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July 5th - Widespread Panic **OFFICIAL TORONTO THREAD**

Jay Funk Dawg

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http://www.livenation.com presents...

Widespread Panic



Sat, July 5th, 2008


11 Polson Street

Toronto, ON M5A 1A4

Doors: 8:00 pm | Show: 9:00 pm

Phone 416.469.5547

Confirm your attendance on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/editevent.php?eid=18382718061#/event.php?eid=18382718061


GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS:(incl. GST) $25.00 (plus FMF and service charges)




Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Rotate This and Sonic Temple or call 416-870-8000 to charge by phone

Fans of the highly renowned touring band, Widespread Panic announce one of their first Canadian tour dates in over a decade – July 5th in Toronto! The tour is in support of their 10th studio album, Free Somehow, and will kick off with Bonnaroo 2008 where the band will headline the four day festival with a closing set.


“If I was to pass anything on to other bands, it would be find people you like and trust them†says John Bell (JB). If you’re gonna listen to anyone, it might as well be JB. As lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Widespread Panic he knows what it takes to make a band work. What started as a few friends picking guitars at the University of Georgia has evolved into one of the most successful rock bands in the world. In their 22 years together they’ve sold over 3 million albums and are consistently one of Pollstar’s Top 50 grossing live acts. No relationship that lasts this long is easy, but the path Widespread Panic has traversed has been marked with challenges; none more difficult than the 2002 loss of co-founder and lead guitarist Michael Houser to pancreatic cancer. Great bands overcome tragedy by bonding together and using it to grow. And that's just what Widespread Panic has done.

Although the years following Houser’s death were trying, the arrival of guitarist Jimmy Herring in late 2006 signaled the dawn of a new era. It wouldn’t happen overnight, with hundreds of songs in rotation and a completely different show every evening it couldn’t, but as we enter 2008 Herring has mastered the band’s vast repertoire and is pushing Panic to new creative heights. While Herring’s unique vocabulary allows the band to explore fresh possibilities, the euphoric feeling of adventure he has instilled reminds bassist Dave Schools of what has always made Panic so special. “It’s like a stagecoach with a pair of horses that are crazy out of control running down a mountainside,†says Schools, “and somehow, the wheels don’t fall off.â€

Part of what keeps the wheels glued on is the team Widespread Panic has amassed. Beyond the six men on stage, the band’s crew, dubbed "The Home Team," allows Panic’s rabid fans to experience a unique, world-class concert every night. From famed lighting designer Candace Brightman (who worked with the Grateful Dead for 20 years) to sound engineer Chris Rabold to the folks back in the office, this is a well-oiled machine, each piece working towards the goal of a transcendent performance. “We’re about 25 people on the road, and then another 10 people in the office,†says JB. “So right now, we’re sitting here with 35 people in the unit and everybody is cooking. And even when we have a new intern, if they’re bringing a spark to the thing, it translates all the way out there to the music.â€

The band’s uncanny ability to adapt and evolve can be seen not only in personnel and sound, but also in the recording process and channels of distribution. Many of Widespread Panic’s fans have never purchased vinyl, some of them have never even seen it, yet the band’s first release, Coconut was pressed as a 45 rpm single. Today we live in a world where Panic’s tenth full-length album, Free Somehow (available February 12, 2008 with a vinyl edition in March), will be downloaded over the Internet. And as formats have changed so has their music. The influence of Herring and the union with producer Terry Manning (Led Zeppelin, Al Green, ZZ Top) has allowed Widespread Panic to craft one of their most sonically adventurous albums to date. “I think it was sort of building on a lot of the work that John Keane had done on Medicine Takes [1999], particularly with horns and background singers,†says Schools. “We really love those kinds of embellishments that have been done on this record. I’m excited. It’s gonna catch a lot of people off guard, but this is what the studio is for.â€

Not only does Free Somehow build off the foundation laid by John Keane, it brings the band back to the Bahamas to work with Manning at Compass Point Studios, as they did on 2006’s Earth To America. That album was their first project with Manning, a first date of sorts. With Free Somehow, the relationship has advanced along with their trust in Manning, and it shows in the results. “There’s a big difference here because Terry and Widespread Panic knew each other a little better,†says JB. “We were ready to fall off the cliff a little more for each other.†Manning used this trust to add layers of orchestral strings, woodwinds, horns and lush backing vocals, all working to realize a bold vision in the studio for Widespread Panic.

This is also Jimmy Herring's first opportunity to write and record with the band. “People should withhold their judgment of Jimmy until they hear this record, because he never had a fair shot to create material,†explains Schools. “He’s got songs that he brought from his idea pool that are part of this record that we all collaborated on.â€

Another shift we find on Free Somehow is a new approach to writing lyrics. “Some of the songs are more straightforward and less metaphorically cloaked,†says JB. “Although there’s still plenty of that going on.†A prime example of this is “Walk On The Flood.†Perhaps the most direct song the band has written, it deals with current-day issues in a way they’ve rarely approached. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, JB was overcome with emotion and the song poured out in a single day. “There’s so much stuff coming up right now that it didn’t feel wrong to address it somewhat directly,†reflects JB. “You’re talking about folks that are going through a real thing, right now. Why not cut to the chase and have some lyrics come out of you that are just more matter of fact than they’ve been in the past? So we let that happen.†While the spark for “Walk On The Flood†came from the massacre at Virginia Tech, the imagery stretches to New Orleans. "With Hurricane Katrina and the way the environment has been kind of Indian wrestling us, we need to realize that we’re messing with it, too,†says JB. A new world with new conflicts calls for new types of songs, and Widespread Panic adapts.

This is a band that stands behind their principles. Not only are they addressing social concerns on an artistic level, they are committed to affecting change in a tangible manner. In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Panic has joined forces with the Make It Right Project to help rebuild the Lower 9th Ward, donating an entire house as well as offering an advanced MP3 of “Walk On The Flood†through LiveWidespreadPanic.com with proceeds going to Make It Right. Widespread Panic is also dedicated to rebuilding our nation’s dwindling music education. Through their annual Tunes For Tots charity they have raised over $300,000 for the purchase of middle school and high school instruments.

In many ways Free Somehow is a new chapter for Widespread Panic. It’s their studio debut with Herring. They’ve cemented their relationship with producer Terry Manning, entered new areas of songwriting and gained a fresh sense of inspiration on stage. “What I’m witnessing now is a really nice feeling of harmony within the group,†says JB. "When you feel that everybody plays a little harder.†They’ve broken free of their past, free of their own expectations, free of themselves. The pieces have fallen into place and Widespread Panic is free somehow.



JOHN BELL - guitars, vocals

JOHN "JOJO" HERMANN - keyboards, vocals


TODD NANCE - drums, vocals

DOMINGO S. ORTIZ - percussion, vocals

DAVE SCHOOLS - bass, vocals

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And make sure to show up on time. They're starting close to the time printed on the ticket. They announced this before the tour and seem to sticking to it. Even if it means just JB solo for the first song, as was the case at one show so far.

Wish that I could make the Toronto show, but am consoled by the fact that I'll be seeing Steely Dan, Kruger Brothers and others instead. And still get a (I hope) 2 hours Panic set on Sunday.

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FWIW, I thought the Sound Academy setup for Maceo Parker was superb. It was a smallish crowd, so the whole back portion behind the soundboard (where the ceiling is low) was cut off completely. Made it feel nice and intimate. Plus, the sound was stellar, and it was really easy to get to any spot in the room. Sightlines were fantastic. Only real issue was a crowded bar, but you can always head outside to the bar on the patio section.

I really hope they use the same configuration.

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FWIW, I thought the Sound Academy setup for Maceo Parker was superb. It was a smallish crowd, so the whole back portion behind the soundboard (where the ceiling is low) was cut off completely. Made it feel nice and intimate. Plus, the sound was stellar, and it was really easy to get to any spot in the room. Sightlines were fantastic. Only real issue was a crowded bar, but you can always head outside to the bar on the patio section.

I really hope they use the same configuration.

They did this last year for the Canada Day celebrations and it was wicked, I wish they did that for Ween...

unofficially IN...

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Panic is Bob Lefsetz track of the day:

I've fired up the stereo. And I'm firing through the channels. Looking for something familiar. But that's not what I get. On Sirius' jam band channel, #17, I hear a song that just sounds right. Turns out it's by Widespread Panic, it's entitled "Space Wrangler".

I've seen Widespread Panic. Back in '92, in a triple-header with Col. Bruce Hampton and Phish. Actually, I thought Widespread Panic WAS Phish. I'd been up skiing at the intermittently defunct Mt. Waterman, listening to an Eddie Money cassette and I listened to Tesla's "Great Radio Controversy" too".)

And Chip insisted I come to the Variety Arts Center. It was my birthday, my father had died the month before. I was in a reflective mood. And when I walked in, I immediately got this band, that was already playing.

And I now know two things about Widespread, as their fans refer to them. They never broke through and their guitarist died. But they still ply the boards.

You may be too old to have experienced the Grateful Dead when they broke through, when they finally followed Crosby, Stills & Nash into country rock with the exquisite "Workingman's Dead". It was a revelation. But I stopped going. Probably about the time you started, when the younger generation renaissance happened. But I remembered the vibe, the feel, the hit. "Space Wrangler" has that same vibe, that same feel, it gave me the same hit.

'Space Wrangler" isn't about the trappings, it's about the music. There's magic in "Space Wrangler". You see, music can't be quantified, it's not what's on paper, not something calculated by Clive, but a feeling.

Listening to "Space Wrangler" is like having your best friend drop by unannounced and insist you get in his car for a road trip. The automobile's not a Ferrari. It's probably not even a convertible. And a movie star is not sitting in the backseat. But staring out the windshield, you're in heaven anyway. Thinking that being alive is so fucking great! Thinking about the unknown, contemplating your adventure.

You wonder why jam band music does business year after year? Because the audience knows. The secret. That it's not about album sales. Not about terrestrial radio. Not about how you look, not even about hits. It's about the music. The music makes you want to join the club. That's why we're fans. That's why we keep going to see them. It doesn't begin and end with the recorded take, that's just a jumping off point.


Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/


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Edited by Guest
Edited for the short attention span of stoners.
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Good read, Interesting thoughts,

Space Wrangler grabbed us as well. It was Vegas 94 in May and we were tooling through the lot and noticed lots of heads looking for Widespread tickets. My only reference point at the time was whatever I may have read about in Unbroken Chain or Duprees Diamond News. Anyhow it certainly tweaked my interest that heads were willing to trade Dead tickets for Spread tickets. Unfathomable in my lil mind.

We got back to the Hammer and I wandered down to Cheapies and looked through that Music Database computer they used to have. Looked up Widespread and asked the kind folks to order in "Space Wrangler" and "Ain't Life Grand". The Space Wrangler disc grabbed me right away, there was something about this band that I couldnt place.

It would be nearly 3 years later when we got to see our first show at the Opera House. We drove down to Florida 2 days later to catch 2 shows at the HOB and it was there, that we had that feeling and vibe from the crowd that was lost for us when JErry passed. Sure there was Furthur tour but it just wasn't quite right. All of our other head friends had gone Phishing but we never caught that bug. It was Panic in the South that made me feel that vibe again.

Over the next few years we were once again planning our vacations around touring, this time it was Panic and not the Dead. Did the New Years Runs in Hotlanta, saw the Halloween shows in New Orleans and had our Honeymoon at Red Rocks.

Times changed and our lives have moved on but Panic has remained a huge part of my vibe. We even drove around with WSP FAN plates for a few years. We only got to see the boys once Post Mikey, Bonnaroo 03, and are ecstatic that the band from Athens is coming north in just over a week.

Wish we could do Toronto & Ottawa but I'm a family man now and Ottawa will be our show. Look for me with the biggest Shit Eating Grin ever as I dance with my wife and boys to the band that took me to a place where I can safely say that no other band has.

Panic may not be for everyone but it really is that honest tune with the lingering lead that has taken me this far.

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