11/08/01 Orpheum Theater, Boston show review


Widespread Panic receives cooler reception in Northeast

By: Mike Meyer
Issue date: 11/13/01

11/08/01 Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA

1: Pigeons, Bear's Gone Fishin', Sleepy Monkey, Tall Boy, Driving Song > Casa Del Grillo > Driving Song, Maggot Brain, Big Wooly Mammoth, Knocking 'Round The Zoo

2: All Time Low, Blight, Climb To Safety, Let's Get The Show On The Road, Happy Child > Ain't Life Grand, Chilly Water > Drums > Chilly Water, Blue Indian, Red Beans

E: This Part Of Town, Makes Sense To Me

['Symptom Of The Universe' tease by Mike before 'All Time Low'; 'Symptom Of The Universe' tease by Dave after 'Drums'; 'Third Stone From The Sun' jam after 'Drums']

Widespread Panic originally booked their November 8 show at the Tsongas Arena, but had to switch to the Orpheum at the last minute. The Athens, GA-based band was having trouble selling tickets for the Lowell venue, because of their small following in the Northeast.

Widespread Panic is a cultural staple in the South, however. In 1998 they filled the streets of Athens with more than 80,000 people for an album release party and concert. The band has been around since 1997 and has released seven studio albums and two live CDs.

Inherently, Widespread Panic is not known for their album sales or studio releases; they have achieved their devout fan base through constant touring for the last 14 years, and by changing up their jam-intensive shows every night. Their Orpheum show was a great example of what Widespread Panic is all about.

The band came on stage at around 7:30 p.m., opening their set with two crowd favorites, "Pigeons" and "Tallboy." As the first set continued, the band segued between songs with ease and guitarist Mike Houser seemed to take control of every jam.

"Driving Song" was next, followed by lead singer and guitarist John Bell's Spanish singing debut from their newest album Don't Tell The Band on "Casa Del Grillos."

The set came to a peak with another song from the new album "Big Woolly Mammoth," sang by pianist and organ player John Hermann, in which the crowd followed the tradition of throwing lighters at the stage during the song.

After a break the band came on for their second set. It started off with another crowd pleaser, "All-Time Low," and then "Climb To Safety." This song seemed to summarize the Widespread Panic experience as the entire crowd sang along to the chorus.

The balcony seemed like it was on the verge of collapse during a fast-paced, piano driven ode to Southern gourmet called "Red Bean's Cooking." Next, the 20-minute-plus drum solo and bass solo by drummer Todd Nance, percussionist Sonny and bassist Dave Schools purged any doubt about the band's musical ability. The band came on for an encore, which seemed to be a dedication to injustice with "This Part of Town" and "Makes Sense To Me."

Widespread Panic has been placed in the category of Phish and String Cheese Incident as a "jam band" in the tradition of the Grateful Dead. There are many of the similarities to the aforementioned bands, including long instrumentals and a neo-hippie following reminiscent of the Deadheads. That is where the comparison ends. Widespread Panic is a Southern rock band with closer ties to the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band than the Dead.

Widespread Panic may not be a familiar name to as many in the Northeast as it is in the South, but anyone who caught the show on Thursday night will surely remember the band next time they roll through Boston.


6/8/01 Interview w/ John Bell

liveDaily Interview: Widespread Panic frontman John Bell
June 08, 2001 05:50 PM
by Don Zulaica

Jam band Widespread Panic is currently on the road supporting its forthcoming "Don't Tell The Band," due out on June 19 on Sanctuary Records. "Don't Tell" is the group's seventh studio album and the first since last year's live effort "Another Joyous Occasion," which also featured the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

The band formed at the University of Georgia as a trio made up of vocalist-guitarist John Bell, guitarist Michael Houser and bassist Dave Schools, deriving its name from Houser's then-nickname, "Panic." Drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz soon joined the group, and the current lineup was completed in 1992 when keyboardist John "JoJo" Hermann came aboard.

LiveDaily correspondent Don Zulaica spoke with Bell while the band was taking a brief respite from the current tour.
LiveDaily: How do you guys write the material? Is it prepared before you go into the studio, or does a lot of writing happen there?

John Bell: I'd say 80-90% of it's already fully baked. And then we'll sit down and tweak the form or arrangement of each song, if it needs tweaking. Sometimes what's been working live--you're working a whole different thing with the CD format--so you've sometimes got to dress it up a little bit. Sometimes you've got to dress it down a little bit. As far as lyrics go, I'll change those up right through the recording. Musically, it's very collaborative.

You have a longstanding relationship with producer John Keane (REM, Indigo Girls), and you recorded "Don't Tell" at his Athens, Ga., studio.

We've done every album but two with John. We did our very first record with him. He's pretty much the guy in Athens. There are a lot of good producers and engineers that have come out of Athens since, but he was one of the first. He's probably trained a few of the groups that are considered some of the best--I don't think there's a band that's come out of Athens who hasn't crossed paths with him in one way or another.

Specifically, what does he give you? What does he pull out of you that nobody else could?

It's a combination of things. His hearing is impeccable, as far as sense of key, tone and tempo. He can feel little things that we won't be able to feel until half a year down the road where we go, "Oh my God, I don't believe we let that happen." So he's in there making sure some of that doesn't happen. And also, with some of the ideas that we have, he's able to translate that through his brain and then through his hands on to the board, and eventually on tape. He has a lot of his own ideas too, but I don't think any of them are conflicting with ours.

It's just a good fit.

Yeah. He's not the kind of producer that comes in and makes every band, no matter who they are or where they're coming from, sound pretty much the same. He helps a band define what it actually is doing.

What was the musical situation like for you growing up?

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a no-pressure situation, it was just something that was there. Everybody in the family took lessons of some kind. I got kicked out of piano lessons. My sister went a little farther in her endeavors. My dad used to sing with the Glee Club in high school and college. Mom played piano, but very rarely--but when she did sit down, she'd start wearin' it out.

My brother let me have his guitar after his interest kind of moved away from that. I was nine. I learned in a very folk-type of setup. Me and this other guy sat in this group of about 12 other girls that were older--that's what kept me goin' with my lessons ...

I was going to say ... [laughs]

[laughs]...you know, you'd all sit around, and the teacher had us singing campfire-style. You know the chords, and then you learn the song by everybody singing along. That was that kind of training.

I did take some lessons later on when I was about 14, with a fellow named Dick Lurie in Cleveland. I struggled through maybe a year with him. My heart wasn't in it. You know, when you're 14, those are your days. It might have been even half a year. I remember him telling my pop, "You know, when he's willing to pay for his own lessons, send him back then." He was a delightful character. I just wasn't toeing the line.

How did Panic come together in the early '80s? You and Michael Houser met in college.

We were going to the University of Georgia. A friend introduced me to Michael, said, "You guys should get together." So I met him, we tried it out, just goofed around off and on. We'd drink a couple beers and just chill out, and not have great demands or expectations of each other. Then we started to find something. I already had some gigs, so we just changed those solo gigs into the two of us playing. The more we played, the better we got to know each other.

We met Dave [Schools, bass] a year or two later. Michael and I were already playing parties, so it was easy to just throw in a bass player. And then we probably went through a bunch of drummers. We'd just call up the music school and see who was available and if anybody wanted to gig--maybe if we're lucky, earn 20 bucks or something like that. But I think they got pretty tired of us fast, because what we were doing was going wherever the music took us. We didn't have command of much more than three or four chords. And tempo was nothing we wanted to keep straight. We were thinking, "Hey, if it's time to speed up, it's time to speed up."

[laughs] The last thing a drummer wants to hear.

Yep. And it would be like, "Well, okay. At least tell me when to do it." "We don't know when it's going to happen." "What are you talking about? You're all in agreement with this?" But we met Todd [Nance] one day, Mike knew Todd from their junior high school days or something like that. We had a benefit to play, and Mike called Todd in Atlanta, Todd ran away from home and stayed with us. We were a real band then--we were sure making enough noise.


5/4/01 Interview w/ Dave Schools

Widespread Panic's Rules of the Road
Friday May 04, 2001 by Jason Koransky

If you want to conduct an interview with Dave Schools, bassist and vocalist of Widespread Panic, it is a good idea to wait until he's finished dinner. After all, a man deserves to eat his steak and potatoes in peace, to fuel up for another trademark wild ride of hard-driving road rock 'n' roll which has catapulted Widespread into the forefront of touring bands in the country. I had been waiting for about two hours for the interview, during which time I was privy to a hot sound check and a lukewarm catered fish concoction (with far too much Endorphin Rush hot sauce), and although not impatient to get the interview, I knew that the show was going to be starting soon. And then it would have been three hours hanging around the Aragon, with only a burning tongue to show for my time, and only a show and CD review for a story.

"Hey Dave. My name is Jason. I was told that I could do an interview with the band," I carefully ask as he sits down at the table on the Aragon's balcony.

A look. A pause. A few thoughts thought (And you are from?). "All right. After I eat though," Schools replies.

All right. An interview with the bassist from one of the most exciting, unpredictable, feel-good bands on the road today! Just the night before at the Vic, Widespread played their first show of a two-night May Chicago stand. A special 25th anniversary gig for WXRT, tickets never went on sale to the public. They were only given away by the radio station, with a large block going to the band as well. What emerged in the three-hour show was a classic example of a Widespread jam. It would be incorrect to classify Widespread Panic as only a "jam band," as they constantly write original, diverse songs. But this six-member group hailing from Athens, Ga., definitely knows how to go off on a musical tangent and capture a unique energy. An energy which has attracted a contingent of devoted fans which follow the band from city to city. With their fifth album recently hitting store shelves (Bombs and Butterflies), Schools, John Bell (guitar/lead vocals), John Hermann (keyboards/vocals), Michael Houser (guitars/vocals), Todd Nance (drums), and Domingo Sonny Ortiz (percussion/vocals) continue to produce a sound which has taken them across the country for the past 12 years, and made them regulars on the H.O.R.D.E. tour. Their popularity has never been higher, as demonstrated by the sold-out Aragon Ballroom (Or is that Brawlroom?) tonight.

So steak digested, Schools gets up, stretches, and asks if now's a good time to do the interview. Well, it's almost 6 p.m., and if the show's going to begin at 7:30, then we better get this going! So taking a seat in the front row of the fixed balcony seats at the Aragon, looking out over the venue's expansive dance floor and the prodigious stage set-up, symbolic of Widespread's success, Schools shares his thoughts on touring with a band, jamming, the state of Widespread today, the Grateful Dead, the South, and, well, Hootie and the Blowfish. Widespread has a great site of their own, which inclues live concert video, tour schedules, and merchandise. Check it out at: www.widespreadpanic.com.

Or visit their record label's page, Capricorn Records. Here, you can listen to some samples from Bombs and Butterflies. Order "Bombs and Butterflies" at CDnow!

PanicWeb offers a great archive of set lists

They love Widespread Panic at Spreadweb ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Centerstage: So how was the show last night?

Dave Schools: It was fun, a lot of fun.

C: I understand you went off into some great jams.

DS: It wasn't really a "real show." It wasn't sold to the public. XRT has always been on our bandwagon. I think they played the vinyl to Space Wrangler in 1989. It was the only radio station in the country to play it, and they were a commercial station. They really have proven themselves to be supporters, avid supporters, of Widespread. It was the least we could do to help them celebrate their 25th anniversary. They've understood about real music for a long time, and somehow they have managed to avoid what most of the radio stations have succumbed to, which is a corporate monopoly.

C: How have you found your radio play lately?

DS: Well, with the new record, things have changed a lot. "Hope in a Hopeless World" is the most successful single to date. And the whole Polygram/Capricorn/Mercury arrangement. You know I think that it has definitely helped us out a lot with the radio. But we still wind up butting our heads against the wall due to this nationwide format. And a lot of stations-we used to get heavy play at WNEW in New York, and they've been around forever. They played us this time, but they couldn't report us because they've switched their format to classic rock. So the people in New York City can still hear us, and they can't hear the name Widespread Panic. But this doesn't do our number across the board any more because WNEW isn't an influential, trend setting A&R station like they used to be. It's kind of dinosaur rock now. And all dinosaur rock stations know exactly what they are allowed to play. It was there 20 years ago. It's hard for a new band that's not so grungy, and not so "Hootie" [and the Blowfish].

C: What do you think about Hootie?

DS: I love Hootie. I'm just using them as the opposite of grunge. They're fluffy, and poppy.

C: They can get play on any station it seems like.

DS: Well, yeah. They did go alternative-because alternative in some cases can mean new. In other cases it can mean unwashed (said with a grin). That's just sort of the dichotomy there. You've got your Nirvana, Bush, Silverchair types, and then you've got your Hootie types. There just doesn't seem to be any place, a niche, for or a band like us or Phish. Just take the music that we naturally create. It's not definable. It's not categorizable.

C: So you guys are going to be out in Red Rocks [Morrison, Colo.] in June.

DS: Two shows.

C: Looking forward to those shows?

DS: Hell yeah. They're almost sold out.

C: I always hear bands say that this is their favorite venue.

DS: It's definitely the best, the most sought after outdoor venue. There are grail places. There are the historic nightclubs when you're first starting out, like CBGB [in New York City] or the 40 Watt Club in Athens [Georgia]. Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill [North Carolina], St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. And you get there, and they're really just as grimy and dirty as anywhere else you've played. They've just been around for a while.

And then once you get into that circuit you start to realize that there are these nice little theaters, like the Fox in Atlanta, and this place we played in Louisville [Kentucky], The Palace. They're all over the place. They're old movie houses and presidium theaters. The Vic is an example of an old vaudeville theater. So then you start looking for these places. The Fox Theater was where they premiered Gone with the Wind. It has these beautiful twinkling stars and clouds that move across the ceiling. So you've got those types of places. And then when you've got to that point, you start thinking, "Red Rocks, The Gorge." Those are the two outdoor places to play that are huge. They're natural.

C: Alpine Valley has that certain mystique to it.

DS: For Deadheads there's a lot of meaning. If you're a Deadhead you know that Alpine Valley has been the site of some great shows. But there's really nothing special geographically about the venue. But it does have, unequivocally, the steepest lawn of any shed I've ever seen or played in (laughing). If it rains, you've got yourself a mudslide.

C: So you have a fan base that follows you. You mentioned the Dead. Are you a Deadhead?

DS: Yeah, personally I am. And I'm proud of it too.

C: Why not be proud of it?

DS: There are six people in this band, and when it gets to things like that and when someone poses a question like that, there's a way to answer it taking the whole band into consideration. No, as a band we didn't play in the parking lot at Dead shows. As individuals in the band, no, we are not all Deadheads. As an individual in the band, I am a Deadhead. I have a great place for them in my heart, where as Todd [Nance] and Mike [Houser] had never even heard them before they were playing their songs 12 years ago when we started this band.

As a matter of fact, that became such an anathema that we had to cut it off. Our timing was right, we were just starting to play outside of Athens and build our reputation outside of the town, so that's when we cut off the Grateful Dead covers-and mostly all the covers. We had enough original stuff. This was right before our record came out (Space Wrangler), and if we hadn't done it then, we would have done it when our record came out.

You know, we had been playing those covers, playing at fraternity parties and things. I mean, this is the South. It's not like the Northeast. You know, it was not like how Phish could go a half hour away and have 10,000 students to play to. In the Southern circuit, major cities with colleges in them are eight hours apart. So the fraternity scene is where a lot of the partying goes down. That's another thing. I'll tell anyone the truth. Yeah, we played fraternities. In fact, fraternities financed Space Wrangler, they financed the gear that we got that didn't break down all the time, they financed our truck which enabled us to get to other cities.

But in the South, you have to play. And our sound man will tell you, he used to love it because we were the first band--Dave Matthews took his all the way to the top, but he played as many fraternities as we did. But we were the first band that could get away with playing our own stuff. We played three sets, and we would play covers, but we would play every one of our own songs. And they didn't boo us, they didn't throw stuff at us. That sort of paved the way for a lot young bands that came up.

C: When you guys get a song going, you just sort of latch into a groove. Could you tell me about this process?

DS: It's hard to explain because it's natural for us. We've grown into it to a certain extent, just by playing together for 12 years. Something we were striving for was a particular kind of freedom that isn't necessarily afforded to all band members in most bands. Usually there's a clear cut leader and song writer, and he delegates with extreme authority what the other players in the band ought to do. And that was Point One of our playing when we got together. So right off the bat we had the freedom thing going.

It's amazing to me now, because we'll be on tour four months at a time, and Todd has this little band called Barberque that he likes to play with and I have a band with Dave Barbe from Sugar called the Weird Brothers that I play with. And I've noticed, when we got back out on this tour, how we love doing these [side projects], but those guys that we play with in these bands are scared to jump off, they're scared to close their eyes and jump off with the music. To us it's freedom. You've been driving on a narrow road and all of a sudden it opens up into the Salt Flats and you can drive as far in any direction as fast as you want. And I think a lot of musicians are scared of that freedom. They want specific parts, and notes and measures that they have to hang on to. And we don't. We have plenty of those-we have 130 songs we play-there's plenty of close-to-the-bone arrangement and there's plenty of split-it-wide-open ones.

C: Every once in a while you throw in an unexpected cover.

DS: We played "Maggot Brain" last night. We played the Aragon here on Halloween last year [1996] and we played "Radar Love," "Space Truckin'," and "Riders on the Storm." It's fun for us to surprise the crowd with some classic songs.

C: What's your Halloween costume of choice?

DS: I was a wizard last year, but I looked more like an evil choir boy. We couldn't find a good costume. I had a light blue wizard's robe instead of an evil black one.

It's just the freedom. We can pull out a Little Feat song. We can decide not to play our radio song. Our crowd will decide (pause), and it's kind of frustrating because we choose the songs that we put on our record because we love them. And if it's a song that friends of our wrote, like "Can't Get High," or if it's a song that we respect a whole lot by writers like Thiele and Roy and Pop Staples ["Hope in a Hopeless World"]. We play it not because we want to have a great hit. It's a hit because it's such a great song. And for some reason our fans decide that once they've heard it more than once or twice on the radio that they're not going to like it any more because it's the radio song. They're scared of us selling out. Or of their little scene not becoming their little scene any more. It's almost as if they try as hard as they can not to tell people about the band. It sort of frustrating to be on that end. It's great to have fans that are that deeply devoted to you, but it's frustrating because we love the songs. If we play it, we try to play the best we can every night, and if it gets a lukewarm reception because it is the radio song, you just feel like saying, "You guys are too deep out there. Step back and have some fun!"

C: Would it be safe to describe the band as a group of Southern boys who like to sit back, party, play some tunes, drink some beer and have a good time?

DS: I don't personally drink beer. I had a fight with this interviewer from Connecticut. She started hammering away with the Southern Rock thing. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers. And she wouldn't let it go. I just felt like saying, "Did you sleep through the '80s? Did you forget that R.E.M. are a Southern band?" Hey, Marilyn Manson are from Florida. Doesn't that qualify them as a Southern band? Do you expect them to sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd? It's not really like that way at all. We are from the South, but it's 1997 right now.

The whole thing is that it's different. It's 1997. Atlanta just hosted the Olympics. Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) just won an Oscar. Vic Chestnutt deserves to win Grammy after Grammy. He's the Bob Dylan of the '90s. We just made a video with Billy Bob. He directed the video for the song "Aunt Avis." Laura Dern is in it. Vic [Chesnutt] is in it. We're in it. It was filmed in Arkansas. It established a sort of Southern Gothic clique. It's nineteen-ninety-fucking-seven. Lynyrd Skynyrd are still playing, but half of them are dead. The Allman Brothers are still playing, but half of them are dead. The point is that that's old news. We're not trying to bring back the past. We're taking the lessons of the past, and using them to work for us in the present.

We need to remind people about the South. The literary, important things about the South. What makes it Southern Gothic. Faulkner used to say that you can't escape the sins of your forefathers. The Spanish moss constantly grows on things and shuts the light out of other things. It's just a struggle. We're not about drinking beer and having a good time. Yes, we enjoy that. Yes, there's an aspect of our music that comes through-"Havin' a Good Time," you know?

J.B. (John Bell), our main singer, has always said that he does not like to sing about fiction. If he sings a cover song, he wants it to somehow apply to him and his life. Lyrically, the words he writes are always the truth. He has a bone in his body that will not let him sing about fiction. It's all about experience. It's not about coifing beers and chasing chicks.

C: What's it like on the road with Widespread?

DS: It's a rainbow of bland food, friendly faces, good shows, mediocre shows, bad shows, mind-bogglingly cosmic shows. Living on a bus with six guys. Life on the road is what we're all about. We only play 110 shows now.

C: Only 110?

DS: Instead of 250. This is our bread and butter. It's why people come back night after night. To sit up here from this viewpoint is a great place to do an interview because you get the scope as to how many people are involved. There are people already on the clock, and the show doesn't start for almost another two hours.

C: Do you guys ever think back, you know, you probably used to travel around in a van..

DS: Oh yeah.

C: Having to haul your own gear out at 4 a.m., make a five hour drive back home, do you remember that?

DS: I'll never forget it. It's all part of understanding what it means to be in a band. It's a lot more than getting together and making music and having fun and making records and being on MTV. It's like the relationship you have with your wife or your girlfriend, but multiplied by six.

C: Six disparate personalities.

DS: Totally disparate. We all come from different locations. J.B. is from Cleveland. Mike Houser is from Chattanooga [Tennessee] via North Carolina. Todd's from Chattanooga, Sonny's from Waco [Texas], I'm from Virginia, John [Hermann] is from New York, via Mississippi.

C: How did you all end up in Athens then?

DS: That's a long story.

C: Let's hear the short version then.

DS: Well, at UGA (University of Georgia) I was in the journalism school. I met John Bell, who was an English major. Mike Houser was just about to get his chemistry degree. School played a part. We'd play a party at a friend's house. We were a three-piece back then, in 1985. You'd have to get up and go to school the next morning. I tried everything I could. I was even in night school. By the end that was the last ditch, and finally we had a gig that conflicted with my night school. I said, "That's it. I've got to go for this."

C: Every once in a while you run into something and you just know it's going to work. There's a progression, and everything just clicks together. Was Widespread this sort of seamless progression?

DS: It's always been very natural. There's never been a time when we've had to sit back and question our own doubt. There was never a plan either. There was never a time table where by 1997 we had to be selling out venues the size of the Aragon. It was more like, "This is fun. We enjoy it. Let's do it." There have been times when it was not fun, when it was a struggle. But when it balances out, the good by far outweighs the bad.

C: Especially when you have tours like the Colorado ski tour.

DS: We put that together for fun. That was our excuse to go skiing. How can we make this feasible? How can we afford to stay in these resort towns? Well, we'll play, and we'll play in venues that are so small that we can do it for three or four nights there. And we can trade tickets for lift passes. It was a great example of the barter system at work.

And we don't like being out when it's cold. We've done our share of the Northeast when there's a blizzard. When people are skiing down Main Street to your show in Ithaca, it's like, we don't need to be on tour this time of year.

C: But if you know that someone is going to risk frostbite to make it to your show.

DS: I've heard some stories of people going through hell to make it to shows. I can tell stories about us going through hell to get to play shows. I guarantee you that there are some Panic fans that can tell you some horror stories.

C: Such dedication and devotion. How much of it is the music, and how much just a way of life? Do you represent that? You talked about being a Deadhead, and you talked about Phish earlier. Are you friends with the guys in Phish?

DS: We've known them for a long time. We bring them to the South and they bring us to the North. They were part of the first H.O.R.D.E. We've been playing shows together for a while, and they know what's going on. I think they've tried a little harder than we have to capture that market.

C: Are you scared of that market?

DS: They've taken the heat off of us, really, by being the more high profile artists at the time. So what I see at Panic shows since the Dead quit touring are a lot of older Deadheads, a lot of people who are really into the music. That's what drives them to get to the shows. It's the music, as opposed to "I can't wait to get to the parking lot and buy some drugs and some T-shirts and trade stories and tapes and stuff." I'm sure that if we'd have been from the Northeast and higher profile, that the roles would have been reversed, and we would of gotten thousands of extra people coming to the shows. As it stands now, I think that we have a lot of people whose hearts are in the right place and the scene's not growing at such a rapid rate that it's causing trouble. It's not getting us banned from the venues where we like to play.

C: Don't get banned from Red Rocks.

DS: We won't. Our fans are already out there going, " If you don't have a ticket don't come. Don't fuck up our scene." The band allows this scene to happen, but if bad feedback hits the band, then we'll have to do something.

C: How was Jazz Fest? I heard that you guys got on stage a little late.

DS: It was real surprising. It's an honor to get asked to play. It's one of those grail things when you get asked to play Jazz Fest. But I didn't have enough power to my amp. We were on the second main stage! So it cost us 10 or 15 minutes.

C: That's New Orleans.

DS: I know. We're familiar with it. We were just like, "Damn!" It was frustrating because we only played for an hour and we couldn't really get our monitor system together. So we pretty much just came out and played songs. It's fine. It was Jazz Fest. We were really happy to be a part of it.

C: I was talking to my brother the other day, and he has one question for you guys. Why is Widespread Panic so damn cool?

DS: I'm going to quote Tower of Power and answer that, and I'll wrap this up with that too. To quote Tower of Power from the song "What is Hip": "Sometimes what is hip is what it ain't."

See what I'm saying? We don't strive to be cool. Our whole thing is that we strive to be ourselves. We like the truth to be known. It's not an act. It's the crowd. We can take the energy they give us and turn it into anything we want. It could be a crazy fucking New York crowd, or Chicago. We just play.


Sam Takes on Jambands


Sam Takes on Jambands
By Sam Harris: Chief Music Correspondent

I just got a chance to read Palmer's masterpiece about his renunciation of Dave Matthews and his band and I feel very compelled to write. Trust me when I say that that is an enormously huge deal. I have been great friends with Palmer since my birth ten days after his. Throughout our playgroup days and the good times spent at Broadmeadow Kindergarten, throughout the hellish practices and somewhat fun swim meets with the Mississippi Makos Swim Team, and of course, throughout his obsession with a certain arrogant South American named Dave Matthews I have been there with Palmer. This, to say the least, is a huge deal.

I feel compelled to write on my opinion of the Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, and the jamband scene as a whole. First let me state that I have been a fan of both at one point or another and I don't completely hate either of those bands.

When Palmer first told me about the Dave Matthews Band in fifth grade, the conversation occurred at his old house in his backyard on his old swing set which was identical to the one my family owned. Sweetie, the Houchins's dog, was a newcomer to this world if I'm not mistaken and was playfully jumping on me like he always used to do (yes, I'm a loser because I remember this conversation and the details of many other insignificant conversations just like it from my elementary days). I thought Palmer was extraordinarily cooler than I had thought of him before because I had never heard of this unknown band I was hearing about. Plus he was telling me about some of his college counselors at Alpine who followed Dave and his merry band of talented musicians around, so I knew it must be really cool to listen to this band. At this point in my life I was completely obsessed with the music of Led Zeppelin (an obsession which I still feel aftershocks of today simply because it has been years since I've popped in a compact disc due to Over-Listening Syndrome). When I reached the age of 12 in the sixth grade, my mother took me to Bebop Records to purchase a cassette tape because of the fact that my parents can be considered technologically retarded (they didn't buy their first CD player until my dad turned 48 last July). I bought the tape of Under the Table and Dreaming. I'll be completely honest with you: the only reason I bought it was because Palmer thought it was so cool. I really didn't like "Ants Marching" or "Satellite," and I actually hated the song "What Would You Say." And as a sixth grader, I didn't really look past the singles of a band unless it was Led Zeppelin. So I didn't listen to the cassette for about four or five years, until I got my car that had no CD player and I needed something besides Phish shows to listen to.

About a year went by and Crash was released in the spring of 1996. I listened to the first three songs and proclaimed "THIS COMPACT DISC SUCKS." That was just my attitude on new stuff back then, in my confused little head. Coincidentally, I lost the piece of plastic within a month of purchasing it. I went on proclaiming that I didn't like the Dave Matthews Band for the next three or so years until the end of ninth grade. This is when I began to actually give the guy a chance. Of course by this time he was huge, and had just released Live at Luther College with "guitar god" Tim Reynolds (I'll complain about him when I get to complaining about Dave). I heard the song "#41" and I figured I should give this guy another shot because let's face it, the song is pretty. Whenever I was in somebody else's car after this, I would pop in Live at Luther College or some other Dave Matthews Band album, basically in the hopes of hearing "#41." I said I liked all of his stuff. That was a lie. I liked "#41." I was fed up with being known as The Guy That Doesn't Like Dave Matthews. I was ostracized for having that title. Much like my terrible, terrible sense of smell which I had to make people assume was good for a majority of my life because no one would believe me and then make me feel like an idiot if I told them I didn't have one, I had to tell people I liked Dave Matthews. Now don't get me wrong, I liked a lot of his stuff, but I also didn't like A LOT of his stuff. I asked Palmer to spin me some shows, which were 8/8/98 and another one which I can't remember because I never listened to it. I listened to the 8/8 show and wasn't too impressed, and from then on my ear for the Dave Matthews Band deteriorated, but not as much as my contempt for Dave Matthews himself would expand in the time to come.

Now to Widespread Panic. I had started listening to the pure bliss of Phish (a band whose music I was introduced to at the beginning of that school year) very frequently in February of eighth grade. I needed something completely different than PanterA (there's no typo, thats just a cool way to write it), and Phish seemed to be that escape. It was a great decision. Much like Palmer with Dave Matthews, I felt an incessant need to buy every Phish album on the market. I also began collecting shows once every two months or so because I discovered the jamband fan's code--"You aren't a real fan unless you eat, sleep, and know what you're favorite jamband ate and at what time they all slept." I'll break down that quote later in this column. (That's actually a pretty good quote and I can't believe I came up with it off the top of my head like that. I guess I can now be considered "witty" along with, in Palmer's words, "omniscient." I have just found another frontrunner for my senior quote.) So at this point in my life, which was the summer before ninth grade, I wanted to become a full-fledged member of the jamband scene. My dad and Mr. Ferrell took me, Matt, and Camp Craig to the Red Lobster and, seeing how it was the summertime, we ate outside. Outside there were two acoustic guitarists playing, along with a keyboard player. Me, Matt, and Camp were too immature to simply ask the group to play some Allman Brothers Band tunes, so we rudely coughed out "Allman Brothers" and the band obliged with a rendition of "Melissa." So I thought I was pretty cool at this point. They then played a beautiful song very slowly that I later found out was "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead. At the end of this show though, I had counted about 6 different times where the band said that they had just played a Widespread Panic song. I knew they were coming to Jackson and wanted to see them play so me and Matt bought tickets and I invited John Lowery (who was and always has been a HUGE Widespread Panic fan, in case you didn't know) in the hopes that I would look somewhat more in the know than I was about Panic. Jacob Christian and Andrew Defore went with us, too. I had bought Space Wrangler and Light Fuse, Get Away about two or so months before the show to get me ready to see them play. So they came and my mom took us to see the show (yes she stayed there, which brought my coolness level down a notch or two). So they played and it was fun and I bought all of their albums except for Bombs and Butterflies. I wore my cool concert shirt every other day throughout ninth grade and figured I was the epitome of coolness, although now that I think about it, I'm sure Gray Fiser was a little upset that I was taking away his coolness, due to the fact that he wore the same shirt everyday, too. Anyway, the shirt looked really cool and had a bunch of pretty colors and stuff and I was happy because I was in with this whole jamband thing and nobody else in my grade at JA was, besides Lowery.

So tenth grade came around and I kind of quit listening to Widespread Panic. Then they came in April of 2000 with the Meters opening so I figured that I would go. I'm not going to lie to you--I had a really good time. Widespread Panic shows are pretty fun to go to. I'm just sorry that I have seen them play more times than I have seen Phish play. I tried to start listening to them again but I just couldn't and there's a good reason for that. I came to a simple realization. The bottom line is that Widespread Panic's music is bland, monotonous, not imaginative, not interesting, boring, dull, ho-hum, tired, non-innovative, and non-original. Did I mention it was boring and dull? Sure they've written a couple of songs that I dig (listen to "This Part of Town" and "Heaven"…no…wait, David Byrne wrote that…okay, listen to "This Part of Town" and "Papa Legba"…no… wait, David Byrne wrote that, too…so I guess the only songs that I dig are "This Part of Town" and "Porch Song"/ "Havin' a Good Time" to the casual fan), but all in all, I don't see what the big deal is about Widespread Panic.

As far as players go, David Schools is a decent bassist and John Hermann is an impressive keyboardist, but that's about as far as talent goes. Let's see where do I start on the talentless people. Okay, I love John Bell's voice, but the guy couldn't tell you what "comping" is if you paid him (basically, he doesn't seem to know what he's doing when he has an instrument called a guitar in his hands). Then there's the talented Michael Houser. Wait, I forgot to put the "un" in front of talented. I can't stand that guy. Charlie Parker, the legendary jazz saxophonist, took lots of heroine and ended up being looked at as a god. If that's true then why does Houser allegedly take heroine and have to suck so bad. I hate to compare him to Charlie Parker, but I'm trying to display two extremes of the effects of drugs in music. One man is known as a mortal god for the rest of his life and post-death, the other is named Michael Houser. Am I the only one who notices he plays basically the same solo in every freaking song. Sure he looks kind of cool with the wind blowing in his hair and him "just taking in the music" (or else thousands of pounds of acid and heroine), but you have to look at the music that comes out of the guy to talk objectively. Try to remember that this is music we're talking about and not just a cool thing to "listen" to. I had the displeasure of listening to 'Til the Medicine Takes and it made me want to die a slow, painful death at the hands of small stones being hurled at my naked body. Why would this group of people make me listen to this guy play guitar for however long that album is? That's terrible.

Now comes the good part--the percussion section. First off, why do these people make their audiences listen to a crappy drummer and an overrated congo player for as many as 40 minutes a show. If you go to a Widespread Panic show, there's guaranteed to be a drum segment. I've heard good drummers, and these two aren't them. First I'll discuss The Greatest Percussionist in the World, Domingo Sunny Ortiz (otherwise known as "Domingo" or "Sunny"). GIVE ME A BREAK! Does every Widespread song have to start out with a stupid congo roll? It's so overdone with this band. Then we have The Man Who Can Only Play a 4/4 Beat. That's a simple rock beat in case you don't know. If you're still unsure of what I'm talking about, listen to, uh, I don't know… EVERY WIDESPREAD PANIC SONG THERE IS for clarification. Why does this guy even try anymore? I believe that's enough for Widespread. On to Dave Matthews.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't like Dave Matthews. I can't say I hate him just because of the mere fact that he wrote "#41." I can't make fun of his band because of the fact that they're talented. I can wonder why a drummer like Carter Beauford (who is great friends with a certain mortal god named Victor Wooten) has aligned himself with such an arrogant person as Mr. Dave Matthews. I guess it would be wrong to judge him, but I can still wonder. Before I get to Dave I'll give my two cents on Tim Reynolds. Tim Reynolds, much like Eddie Van Halen, is an athlete. A guy who can move his fingers really fast in the hopes of impressing women. That's the unmistakeable truth--take it or leave it. I can detect no feeling in his playing, just a man who wants to show off how fast his fingers can move. As far as Dave goes, why on God's great earth did this guy get the idea that he could charge as much as $60 (that's dollars!) for a ticket. By doing this he has completely left the very roots that made him what he is today--nomadic fans who live to see him play music. And I didn't consider him a sellout until this year. One reaches the point of "sellout" when he goes back on his morals and does something he's really not into musically. And whether you like it or not, Dave Matthews sold out. By dumping a long time producer and going with a sure-fire hit maker like Glenn Ballard, Dave sold out. I mean, Glenn Ballard went to the University of Mississippi for goodness' sakes, he can't be THAT cool (that might have been uncalled for but I had to establish the fact that I really don't like that school. I've always bled maroon and white so please don't take it too personally). Anyway, Dave might say he's wanting to go in a different direction and he's right. It's a direction that fourteen and fifteen-year-old boys and girls, along with Mr. Carson Daly have surrounded. If you want to discuss Dave Matthews further, email me because I still have to talk about the jamband scene as a whole and its 1:00 on a Sunday morning and I'm really tired right now.

Okay the jamband scene. On February 18 of the year 2001, me, Palmer, and Cole Furlow made a road trip up to Memphis to see the band moe. play. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this trip would make me lose faith in the jamband scene. We set off from Palmer's house, excited to be three 17-year-olds driving three hours without any parents and ecstatic at the idea of seeing moe. in concert. So we get to Memphis, Tennessee, and go to the show. There are drugs, lots of drugs, and even more drugs. I was expecting that and I have no problem with it, but I don't take them. But the thing is, is that they play a key role in enjoying the music that was about to be played tonight, namely in the second set. The first set started off with a solid "St. Augustine." It continued with a few other songs, I think I remember six songs being played over the course of an hour in the first set. It was solid. Setbreak rolled around and people took their drugs, while me, Palmer, and Cole went towards the doorway to cool off. We were pretty excited because of the first set and were ready to hear another one. The band came back out at 10:30 and opened with a 20-minute "Timmy Tucker." They then played a 10-minute song, off of the new album if I'm not mistaken, and took a short little break to get a swig of water. Little did we know that there would be no silence for the next 60 minutes. I mean 60 freakin' minutes. That's one whole hour. They played four songs over the course of one hour. It got boring. I could see the looks of complete boredom in Cole and Palmer's faces. I'm sure I had the same one on my face. I've heard of a guy that can hold my attention with four songs over the course of one hour. Maybe you've heard of him. His name is Miles Davis, and moe. is by no means Miles Davis. I hate to compare moe. to Miles Davis, but it's the only person I can think of who can do that. Now don't get me wrong, moe. is a really good, tight, talented band with some pretty good songs and I had a lot of fun, but one hour?! It seemed, at times, like they were just playing to see how long they could stretch the jam. That's ridiculous, but to a lot of people in this whole jamband scene, it was pure bliss. I know it's cliché but I never realized until this show that this music was "drug music." To enjoy what me, Palmer, and Cole sat through you have to be on acid, because I know that three sober teenagers who are pretty hip to what's cool in music and who are fairly easily impressed thought that it wasn't really that good. But this show, as I've said before, was sort of an epiphany for me and made me think about what this scene was all about.

I've been full in the jamband scene at one point in my life, and from what I can tell, my experience was just like any hardcore jamband fan, only mine was a little different because I'm a teenager with overprotective parents, living in the state of Mississippi. Some of the definite opinions that the hardcore jamband fan must acquire are the fact that one must be closed-minded and hate any and all pop music. Closed-mindedness is one of the biggest problems with the scene. All of these different bands open up to you when you dive into this scene, and unbiased opinion is kicked out the window. If a band doesn't jam, then they aren't good. You must like jambands, and only jambands. The words "simple pop song" don't apply here. You must like "vehicles for incredible jams" (i.e.--songs with a short riff, goofy lyrics or lyrics about drugs to get the fans to yell, followed by another little riff or chord progression, followed by a long jam). Once again I exclude Phish due to the fact that Trey Anastasio's compositions are so freaking complicated, but I guess they could fall under the goofy lyrics category. Anyway, if you go on the Phish newsgroup and someone posts a message asking what bands everyone else on the newsgroup likes, it is almost guaranteed that every response will include a variation of the following:

SCI, moe., Widespread Panic, MMW, Phish, the Dead, Galactic, Jazz Mandolin Project, Deep Banana Blackout, etc…

Hey, whatever floats your boat. But this is one of the main reasons I'm close to abandoning this whole movement all together. Don't get me wrong, there are some really intelligent Phish fans out there and I've met a bunch of them, but I'm tired of hearing about all of these bands. I know everybody doesn't have to like the same music, but whats wrong with trying out Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan or the Beatles or Radiohead or James Brown, or even listening to John Coltrane or Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie (you know this whole concept of "jamming" came from jazz, right?). Another concept that one must have is that to be a jamband fan, you must live for long, drawn-out, often directionless, jams. Hence the word "jamband." I have had this attitude at one point. There was a time when I was frustrated at hearing a song Phish only played for 10 minutes. (Phish is different from other jambands nowadays, due to the fact that all four members have impeccable concepts on music theory and tension-and-release, which is very useful when your trying to hold an audience). Another attitude of a jamband fan is explained in my quote, -"You aren't a real fan unless you eat, sleep, and know what you're favorite band ate and at what time they all slept." My personal favorite band was and is Phish. My quote is exaggerating a little, but the concept is fairly true. It seems that in this scene you can't be considered a real fan unless you have every show that Phish ever played on cassette or CDR. It's the same for every other jamming band with a cult following. I too have had this opinion and I'm mad at myself for ever believing it. It's so stupid. This is called music, its an opinion, and one can have a favorite band without owning one show. It would be nice to know one or two songs by your favorite band, but it is all your opinion. But tell this to a hardcore jamband fan, and he'll probably laugh in your face or say something rude (most likely he'll say something rude if he's from the north because most northern people are complete jerks from what I can tell). This whole concept makes liking a band a competition, a competition which I don't want to be a part of anymore.

I think I've covered everything I wanted to in this column. The WordCount on Microsoft Word says I have used 3,363 words this far over the three writing sessions that it took to finish this essay. I'm sure I've made a good bit of people angry and I'd love to hear your thoughts, just email me. Please remember that this is my opinion whenever you are offended, and you can take it or leave it at that. Sorry for the lack of humor, but thanks so much for reading this far.


Subj: clueless
Date: 3/23/01 1:12:32 PM Central Standard Time
From: jon.wingo@anchorgaming.com (Wingo, Jon)
To: samh432@aol.com ('samh432@aol.com')

You had to have faked your resume for this job!! I have never known someone
to be the chief music correspondent and still not have one clue about
what you are saying. I understand that certain people have their own
opinions about the scene and the different bands that play but do you don't
have to show the whole world your ignorance by writing such a piece of ****
article like you did on jambands. Everyone has there take on what they like
and for someone like you, the immature 8th grader, to come along and bash
something that these bands work so hard to accomplish is not right. You sit
around in your office or on your butt at home and bash these guys based on
something you listened to or use to listen to in 8th grade, please.
basically if you don't like them fine then DON'T GO but leave your grade
school opinions to yourself and for god sake quit lying to your employer and
tell them you have not a clue about music and that you need to move on to
smaller and more suitable things like being a kindergarten teacher. Maybe
if you taught kindergartners they would believe this nonsense but for now
just do us all a favor and stay away from this scene. We are trying to
keep it a good scene and make the most out of it that we can so please do
the same and take up nursery rhymes!!!

Subj: Re: clueless
Date: 3/24/01 11:50:45 AM Central Standard Time
From: SamH432
To: jon.wingo@anchorgaming.com

First of all the Chief Music Correspondent thing is intended to be a joke.
I wrote this article for my friend's website, which is viewed by people
around the area in which I live. It is heavily laced with sarcasm and
cynicism, as is my article. Another friend of mine, a Widespread Panic fan,
was angered and posted it on the Spreadnet. I'm actually in high school, not
8th grade. Why are my opinions "gradeschool opinions?" Because they disagree
with yours? That's mature. I'll see what I can do about taking up nursery
rhymes though.

Subj: Your Essay
Date: 3/23/01 6:01:51 PM Central Standard Time
From: pmrials@olemiss.edu (Price Rials)
To: samh432@aol.com

Basically your a moron. Get out of high school, take some drugs, drink a
little bit. Come up to Ole Miss take in a party. As far as jam band fans
not listening to other music, come take a look at my CD case. Along with all
the Widespread shows you'll find Allman Brothers, Miles Davis, Dylan, JJ
Cale, etc... Basically grow up.

"I wanted to stay, I wanted to play, I wanted to love you,
I'm only this far and only tomorrow leads the way."
-Dave Matthews Band, #41

Subj: Re: Your Essay
Date: 3/24/01 8:56:02 AM Central Standard Time
From: SamH432
To: pmrials@olemiss.edu

Oh, so I'm the one who needs to grow up? "Get out of high school, take
some drugs, drink a little bit. Come up to Ole Miss take in a party."

really mature. Apparently, I'm not mature unless I take some drugs? I'll be
sure to remember that.

Subj: hey
Date: 3/23/01 4:11:00 PM Central Standard Time
From: Dawgs402
To: SamH432

****head....you dont know what the **** you are talking about....burn in hell

Subj: Re: hey
Date: 3/24/01 8:53:56 AM Central Standard Time
From: SamH432
To: Dawgs402

That's a really intelligent post. The "****head" part is really original.
Also the part where "I don't know what I'm talking about" when the thing
is 3500 words. It's too bad we disagree about Widespread Panic so much. You
seem like a cool ass guy.

Subj: your article
Date: 3/23/01 9:35:37 AM Central Standard Time
From: ashmos@bellsouth.net
To: samh432@aol.com

well, i tried to read your article but found myself incredibly, incredibly
bored. needless to say, i never finished it. who would want to read some
child's ramblings about the limited experience he's had in this world? other
children maybe? i have no idea.

hey, tell jambands that my little nephew wants to write about how much he
loves his mommy, maybe you can help him out, put in a good word for him...

Sam, continue your education.


Subj: Re: your article
Date: 3/24/01 9:33:49 AM Central Standard Time
From: SamH432
To: ashmos@bellsouth.net

I actually consider my article pretty funny. How are you bored with
something that you feel compelled to write about? You don't really seem
mature enough to be calling me a "child." I think you're just offended that
anyone would dare insult your favorite band, so you had to try to put me
down. That's what we call "insecurity" where I come from. Your remarks were
really intelligent, though.

Subj: When sarcasm goes wrong...
Date: 3/25/01 2:02:55 PM Central Standard Time
From: Madpanic1
To: SamH432

I have been on Spreadnet for the better part of four years. I have
seen it go through a downward spiral of thought vomit people pass off as
opinions, facts, et al. I do commend you for your moxie in writing the
aforementioned article. I did not have a chance to read it, and I don't
recall having seen anything about it (of course I give little attention to
Spreadnet other than the title of the emails).
I am sorry you are catching heat for your blurb on the boys. I guess
you could compare it to the Onion's website. I agree that the boys aside from
Jojo or Sunny have any real musical prowess. They are average players, if
that. I have been seeing the band since I was 14 in 1995; I am only now 20.
They are heavily influenced by drugs, albeit none of my business which ones.
I have a high school buddy who is big buds with Jojo, and I have heard some
things which are damaging to their character. That is disheartening; take
Nancy Reagan's advice and just say no!
The inconsistency of the fans also perturbs me. Last spring there was
a big debate on Spreadnet over the website Southernbuzz.com which blatantly
ripped off the Everyday Companion website. People started yelling plagiarism
and copyright infringement. Granted the webmaster wasn't making money off the
website, he lifted copyrighted information. However, these same people kept
up the conversation about lot shirts. No one seems to think using trademarked
logos and copyrighted lyrics, stolen from their favorite band, is at all
illegal (I also cannot say I don't own a lot shirt!). Inconsistency... I have
seen the scene move away from college kids to a drugged-out, dirty following.
It is a sad cycle. I realized a couple years ago following a band is
ridiculous (although I have partaken in it). Keeping up with the minutiae of
someone else's talents hardly allows my own to develop.
You are a very good writer and you seem to have a good grasp on jazz.
I am in a Jazz History class this semester because I appreciate the music as
an art form and I need to branch out of this genre of hippie bands. I hope
you do well in all of your pursuits. I think it's pretty awesome you
stood by your statements and corrected your fallacies rather than take up the
defense. There are other young fans out there and I don't doubt many people
share your views. Good luck.
Alison Driscoll

Date: 3/25/01 3:36:07 PM Central Standard Time
From: fanothejam@hotmail.com (FanO' TheJam)
To: samh432@aol.com

Sam you is, Why you dis my band? I read your article the other day on the
web, my how things get out on this little tool. Its worse than my tiny home
town in North Mississippi. I figured you were kinda exagerating things at
the time, and after readin your article on the Spreadnet I was proven to be
corect in this assumption. But, I stll felt the need to write a little note
of encouragement to you. I think that you made some very valid points.
Houser, and for that matter the rest of band, is not as talented as some.
Collectively, I feel they have captured something that most bands, despit
their talent, never will. There music is honest and it speaks to lots of
people on a level that most music today does not. John Bell, besides being
a really nice guy can write lyrics filled with tons of imagery, he paints a
great picture with most of them. Great examples of this are Pleas(not
Please) and Little Kin( a very personal song for Schools). Another good
point you made: DMB sucks.
Let me say that I hate the term Jambands. I prefer to think of the scene as
a bunch of folks that know when a really good band is coming to some small
bar to perform for a few people. This band may or may not jam, but they are
talented. Some of the bands play jazz, some play folk, some funk, some all
of it, but they don't all JAM, and they certainly don't all remind me of the
Grateful Dead. Most people don't know how good these bands are, but I do
and at the same time I also know how good a band like Radiohead is. Some of
these bands really suck. moe. sucks.
I got into all this in 9th grade. I heard this song, Uncle John's Band, on
the radio and have been hooked ever since. I, like you, in high school
thought I was the coolest kid on the block, with my GD t-shirts and tapes.
Nobody in the whole school dug the Dead. After a while all my friends were
listenin to em. We thought we were the ****. I met a kid from Chicago who
introduced me to Phish, like your friend i went to Alpine and heard the
Panic. This whole new world of music just opened up in front of me. I
thought I knew what it was all about. Not to offend you but you, like I
back in the day, have NO idea what the 'Scene' is all about. You will not
have any idea until you get to college or out of high school. The 'Scene',
at least for me and my boys, was not just about the band we were going to
see or the partying we were going to do. I have seen WP 50+ times, and they
are not my favorite band right now. Those days I went to see them they
were, because I was getting in the car with a cooler full of beer and my
best friends in the whole world and taking off across the highways and
byways of this great country. Panic comes on stage, and they rock the
house. They might not be great that night, but the next night they were on
fire. It's that human drama of watching them try to pull it off. Some
nights they don't, but when they do its as close to perfect as it gets. And
your not worrying about your girlfriend and the test you blew of to make the
trip, nothing. I went to Ole Miss, sorry, and because of that band I have
life long friends from LSU, State, BAMA, CO and many other places. So, I
urge you not to give up on this thing because the real meat of it don't last
long. I'm workin in the real world now and I miss the hell out of those few
years when I had the chance to let it all out. It will give you some mighty
incedible times, along with some pretty good rock and roll music. One more
point. DO you actually think that Bird, Miles, and the rest were on every
night. Maybe they release all of the things you have heard because they
were on that night. My dad saw Bird a few times. One time in particular
was the worst musical experience of his life. So, keep the faith Sam my man
and put yo' Led Zepplin CD's back in because those boys are good.

A life long Fan O' The Jam

Subj: Your take on Jambands
Date: 3/23/01 2:38:34 AM Central Standard Time
From: Wsp1x1
To: SamH432

I know by now that you have probably been flamed to hell and back
about your article on Jambands but I would just like to tell you - way to go
man. It is so refreshing to actually hear someone speak what they actually
felt about the music. Although I do not agree with much of the Panic section
of your article, I love to read other's outside opinions on the band. The
only thing that I felt made your article was the fact that talks about Houser
using heroin. Although I realize that a time ago maybe it was being done now
Mike is clean and trying to be the best father he can be to his son and
daughter. I know this for a fact. Thank you for your opinion and keep
writing, you have a lot of talent!

All the best
Jason Bragg

PS>Till the Medicine Takes is by FAR their worst studio album, and also moe.
is the worst band I have ever heard

"As Panic grabbed my legs you know,
it pulled me in"
-Mike Houser

Subj: Re: An Open Letter to the Spreadnet from Sam (a.k.a. Panic Hater)
part 2

Date: 3/24/01 4:18:27 PM Central Standard Time
From: daniel_l_owen@hotmail.com (Daniel Owen)
To: samh432@aol.com

well done sir... you're entitled to your opinion. Always..
Just rem. one thing about WSP fans. We are some of the most dedicated
faithful, religous fans out there when it comes to the music of WSP..

And I think you can see that now..
Well done though,

Subj: Re: An Open Letter to the Spreadnet from Sam (a.k.a. Panic Hater)
Date: 3/24/01 4:41:46 PM Central Standard Time
From: lgtsotr@earthlink.net (Scott Holcomb)
To: samh432@aol.com

Thanks for the response to the list, Sam. Sorry you had to get all that
hate mail from the freaks, but you should know that if you write
something that harsh and sarcastic to be posted on the Internet, you
should expect some level of hate mail. There's very little said on the
Internet that doesn't make the rounds, unless it's completely vanila and
boring. It's one thing to be controversial, but with controvery comes
public outcry. Also, as we all know, it's very difficult to convey
sarcasm over the Internet, so most of these statements are widely
misinterpretted. I don't find anything wrong with being controversial,
but you have to be prepared to take the reaction.

When the link to your article was posted, I was curious and checked it
out. I only read the first part of the article because your viewpoint
was obvious and I didn't need to read any more of your supporting
arguements. I did do a little research discovering that the website
hosting your article was some a private school, so I got an idea of the
age of the writer. A little more research led me to the main page of
the website and the listing of articles there. Since you were the
"Chief Music Correspondent", I knew there had to be other articles
containing music that you actually like. I found your listing of the
best 20 pop songs from 1990 - 2000. The first line of that article
really clued me in that you knew what you'd said about Panic was

"Well I'm bracing myself for a good amount of hate mail after my last
column, and I guess that's pretty cool. I have wanted to start some
solid controversy for a while, and I think that bashing Widespread Panic
with 3500 words might have done the trick. I guess we'll see."

And see you did.

Your list of music there let me know that you obviously aren't and
idiot, which I was happy to see. You've obviously got some music taste
with inclusion of artists on that list like Pavement (who I've checked
into, appreciated, but not fully "gotten"), Radiohead, Nirvana (and not
the Jo Shmoe "pop" Nirvana), and Built To Spill (who I saw on HBO's
Rewind and was completely impressed by). I didn't agree with everything
on your list, least of which was inclusion of "Mm, mm, mm, mm" by the
Crash Test Dummies, which I find to be a completely idiotic song. Of
course, that's just my opinion. Also, "No Rain" may be one of the first
songs that folks from your generation learn on guitar, but most folks
from my generation started learning to play before that song was ever
released and starting learning the guitar with songs like "Dead Or
Alive" by that great rock band Bon Jovi :o These statements dated us

I guess none of the stuff I've said has been worth the time that it took
to write it, but I was just something I felt like writing. I'll end
with something that is worth while. If you want to learn just how
talented a guitar play John Bell is, you need to check out his solo
acoustic sets, specifically 9/9/00. I was blown away with that
performance. The stuff he plays when the rest of the boys are on-stage
isn't what you would consider traditional guitar playing. It's mostly
about coloring the jam. The times that he impresses me the most when
playing with the band is during the rap sections of Diner or Hatfield.
When he up there spitting out whatever words come to his mind at the
time, he will occasionally stop and lay down a quick riff on the
guitar. Those riffs aren't supposed to be a great guitar solo. I
consider them thoughts and feelings that he came up with during the rap
which he can't seem to put into words. The only way to convey these
feelings to the crowd is with a quick burst from the guitar. I can't
think of any particular performances to point out to you, so I guess
you'll have to let your Panic-loving friend play a few for you. I can
think of worse way to spend some time.

Keep writing those controversial articles, but make sure you don't make
any assumptions about people that are hurtful (like the comment about
Houser and heroine), and be prepared for the backlash.

Scott Holcomb http://home.earthlink.net/~lgtsotr/ - personal stuff
- more Widespread Panic info. than you can imagine

"Americans couldn't be more self-absorbed if they were made of equal
parts water and paper towel."
- Dennis Miller