Beth Montuori Rowles
General Manager, Phish Inc.
Few play as integral a role in the sprawling enterprise of Phish than Phish Inc. general manager Beth Montuori Rowles, who has worked for the beloved jam band since 1995. Her most consequential role may be as executive director of the WaterWheel Foundation, the organization she co-founded in 1997, which oversees Phish’s charitable efforts – including that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food sitting in your freezer.
“Generally speaking, in a normal year of touring … we raise about $1 million,” she says. “Last year, once I realized that the band wasn’t going to tour, I initially assumed that WaterWheel would not be able to do much … considering we were heading into a time of great need, I really wanted to figure out how to get some momentum going.”
WaterWheel’s charitable activity surpassed expectations and then some. Throughout the pandemic, Phish streamed archival shows with the “Dinner and a Movie” series, raising nearly $800,000 for a slate of beneficiaries that included NIVA, ACLU and HeadCount. Also significant was Trey Anastasio’s weekly livestreamed residency at the Beacon Theatre, which raised $1.2 million across eight shows in October and November for the Divided Sky Fund, an initiative housed under WaterWheel that will finance an addiction treatment center in Ludlow, Vt.
“We have a very connected community and there was not a day that I did not correspond with a handful of the fans,” says Montuori Rowles, noting that Phish’s supporters “kept me fueled.”
She’ll reconnect with them in person soon enough.
“In a perfect world,” she says, “my first live show [post-pandemic] will be Phish, in some large outdoor space, working together again with all my amazing coworkers and enjoying all the happiness that the fans will bring, with my bosses doing what they do best: putting on the best live rock show on the planet.”