Nearly a year after the break began, McConnell traveled to New Orleans, where he convened with the Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge (a mainstay on the jam band scene Phish helped ferment) and Funky Meters' drummer Russell Batiste. McConnell had known Burbridge for over a decade, as Phish had often shared bills with the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Burbridge's seminal early-'90s band. Batiste and McConnell had first come into contact while working on a track for Get You A-Healin', a benefit album, with Phish bassist Mike Gordon and others.
The trio improvised a good deal of music, which ranged in tone as McConnell experimented with acoustic pianos and various synthesizers. Turntablist DJ Logic joined them for a session. Ultimately, the band latched onto an electronic sound, not entirely unlike the New Deal. McConnell shaped some of the material into songs, adding lyrics, and the band's self-titled debut was born.
The band played their first live shows in late 2001 in Burlington and New York. At the latter performance, on New Year's Eve, they were joined by Phish's Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon. The Vida Blue began to tour in earnest in early 2002, playing small clubs and theaters throughout the country, often playing with younger jam bands (such as the New Deal and the Slip). ~ Jesse Jarnow, Rovi