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: (Wingo, Jon)
To: ('')

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

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: (Price Rials)

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

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

**** 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

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

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 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: (FanO' TheJam)

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 Owen)

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: (Scott Holcomb)

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 - 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