WSP's NYE Simulcast from Denver

Widespread Panic and Yonder Mountain String Band are celebrating this New Years with 2 nights at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO, December 30th and 31st. The New Years Eve show is sold out but you can still enjoy the party from home! WP has partnered with and Digomé to stream this DVD quality webcast.

For $16.50 you will be able to see the simulcast on the 31st in real time and then replay it over and over again well into 2009.
You can order your personal viewing code at anytime starting Dec. 12th. It can not be replaced so keep it secure. You will need to download the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in to view the stream. It takes only a minute.

Order your pay per view by December 24th and you will automatically be entered in a raffle for some great Panic swag. Five winners will be selected at random and each receive a “2008 Fall Tour Package“ which includes an autographed Fall Show poster, T-shirt, and a copy of Driving Songs V.

Follow the links and all the directions will be revealed.
Reserve your access to the show now!

For general questions about the New Years Stream, go here.


Widespread Panic Rocks Milwaukee

If you haven't heard by now Milwaukee got a killer 3-night run outta of the boys. The venue was ablaze for 3 nights, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You can tell the guys love Milwaukee (Beer Capital of the World) had high energy and delivered outstanding setlists each night.

11/07/08 Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI
1: Let's Get Down To Business > Travelin' Light, Fishwater, Angels on High, It Ain't No Use > C. Brown, L.a. > You Got Yours > Chainsaw City
2: Give, Porch Song > Ribs And Whiskey, Bear's Gone Fishin' > Blue Indian, Fairies Wear Boots > Jam > Second Skin > Solid Rock

E: Pleas > Makes Sense To Me, May Your Glass Be Filled, Mr. Soul
Set 2 ended early due to drum kit malfunction; Slow 'Porch Song'

11/08/08 Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI
1: From the Cradle > Provin' Ground, A of D > Glory > Old Joe > Pusherman > Jam > Sleepy Monkey > Weak Brain, Narrow Mind > Good People > Dark Bar Jam > Good People > Cream Puff War

2: Thin Air > Jam > Vacation > Jack > Low Spark of High Heeled Boys > Tie Your Shoes > Low Spark of High Heeled Boys > Jam > Drum Solo > Jam > Arlene > Fire on the Mountain Jam > Stop/Go > Sleeping Man, Sharon

E: Postcard > *Flat Foot Flewsy, Outro with Theme from Laverne and Shirley

* With Dave Chanting "Sound Man's Choice" at the Start

11/09/08 Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI
1: Diner > Space Wrangler, Greta > Jam > Up All Night, Christmas Katie > Action Man, Tickle the Truth > Airplane > Under the Radar Jam > Papas Home

2: Let's Get The Show On The Road > Flicker > Chilly Water, Down, Disco > Guilded Splinters > Surprise Valley > Drums > Surprise Valley > Her Dance Needs NoBody (

E: Back In The USA (Chuck Berry YouTube), Last Dance

sources everyday companion, panicstream, widespread panic

It doesn't get much better than that. Thank you Riverside Milwaukee for being a great host and thank you Panic for a memorable weekend!

Congrats Obama

Hellava race went down between McCain and Obama. They say this was a historical turnout for voters. Looks like McCain lost by 8 million votes. Obama and Biden have a lot of work to do. Let's hope they shape up this country!
Congrats Obama!

Please everybody, stop calling him a black president or African American president. Afterall, he is half white.

Let's just say he is the 44th American President.

Widespread Panic November Tour Dates

11/05/08 Wed - The Murat Theatre Indianapolis, IN

11/07/08 Fri - Riverside Theater Milwaukee, WI
11/08/08 Sat - Riverside Theater Milwaukee, WI
11/09/08 Sun - Riverside Theater Milwaukee, WI

11/19/08 Wed - The Fillmore at Irving Plaza - New York, NY

11/28/08 Fri - Civic Center - Asheville, NC
11/29/08 Sat - Civic Center - Asheville, NC

Panic @Lakewood Pics

Widespread Panic played Lakewood in Atlanta for two amazing shows Oct 17th and 18th.
Ian Rawn. Concert Photographer, was on hand to shoot some great photos.

Check out his website for more photos from Atlanta. Terrific job as always Mr. Rawn!

10/17/08 Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA
1: Worry, Hatfield > Ribs And Whiskey, Glory > Sleepy Monkey > Goin' Out West, Morning Dew > Rebirtha > Red Beans

2: Airplane > Vacation > Bear's Gone Fishin' > Pigeons, Old Neighborhood*, Chest Fever* > Arleen* > Bust It Big*, Weight Of The World

E: Walkin' (For Your Love)

* with The MegaBlasters

10/18/08 Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA
1: Mr. Soul, One Arm Steve > Fishwater, The Last Straw > Ain't Life Grand, Up All Night* > Her Dance Needs No Body*, You Should Be Glad, Ophelia

2: Chilly Water > You Got Yours, Blight > Red Hot Mama > Jam > Angels on High*, Mama Told Me Not To Come*, Superstition* > Tall Boy*

E: Pickin' Up The Pieces**, North, Pilgrims > Wondering

* with The MegaBlasters
** with Randall Bramblett on saxophone
[Only 'Mama Told Me Not To Come']

from Everyday Companion Setlists

Widespread Panic to Receive Road Warrior Award

Widespread Panic will be honored with special awards at the 2008 Billboard Touring Awards on Nov. 20 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. According to Widespread Panic will receive the first ever "Road Warrior" award.

"This award recognizes a band, perhaps not always at the forefront of 'Billboard Boxscore charts' lies. But their professionalism, stage charisma and the ability to tickets for sale a long time, the tour industry a big boost," said Ray Waddell, Executive Director of Content and Programming of the U.S. industry magazine.

Humanitarian Award will be given to Bon Jovi's Soul Charitable Foundation and the Allman Brothers Band will receive the award in the category of "Legend of Live" during this special Billboard award ceremony.

October '08 Tour Dates

Oct 10, 08 - Austin, TX - The Backyard
Oct 11, 08 - Austin, TX - The Backyard
Oct 12, 08 - Tulsa, OK - Brady Theater
Oct 15, 08 - Memphis, TN - Mud Island Amphitheatre
Oct 17, 08 - Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheatre
Oct 18, 08 - Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheatre
Oct 19, 08 - Atlanta, GA - Tunes for Tots Charity Concert at The Tabernacle
Oct 22, 08 - Tallahassee, FL - Civic Center
Oct 24, 08 - Charleston, SC - North Charleston Coliseum
Oct 25, 08 - Charleston, SC - North Charleston Coliseum
Oct 26, 08 - St. Augustine, FL -Saint Augustine Amphitheatre
Oct 28, 08 - Miami, FL - The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
Oct 29, 08 - Miami, FL - The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
Oct 31, 08 - New Orleans, LA - UNO Lakefront Arena

"Tunes for Tots" Oct 19 Atlanta

4th Annual Tunes For Tots Charity Concert will be held on October 19th at the newly renovated Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA.

Only 100 VIP cocktail party tickets will be sold at a cost of $500 per person. The Private VIP Cocktail Party with Widespread Panic is from 5 – 6:30 pm and includes: Heavy hors d’oeuvres, catered by the renown chef Hugh Acheson from Athens’ 5 & 10 restaurant, an open premium bar, early admittance into the venue and a 2008 Tunes for Tots poster autographed by the band.

For the concert , there will be only 1600 General Admission tickets available for $125, leaving plenty of dancing space. Doors are at 7pm with Showtime at 8pm. Tickets go on sale to the public on September 20th. Online sales ONLY at

Proceeds from this concert go directly to purchase musical equipment for Georgia Public Schools. The 2007 recipients, Rothschild Middle School, received instruments for their orchestra and a 27 station music computer lab with the latest version of Music Maker Finale on them.

Widespread Panic believes that art education, and in particular music education, is integral to the overall education and advancement of children. Art allows for personal expression, appreciation of ideas, celebration of cultural awareness, sharing emotions, and gives purpose to life. Widespread Panic agrees with research findings that art education supports more traditional academic subjects as well as being a worthy pursuit in its own right.

Widespread Panic Honored - GA Hall of Fame

Photo by Kelly Lambert.
See more photos at

By BETH JONES - for Athens Online

ATLANTA - Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools looked a little ill at ease as he posed for photographs before the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards.

The band has played more than 2,000 shows in front of thousands of screaming fans, but Schools admitted this was the first time he'd walked the red carpet.

"I'm not nervous," he said. "I just don't want to scuff up the red carpet."

Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the awards show, which was held at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Joining Widespread Panic as inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame were Keith Sweat, R&B singer from the new jack swing era and host of a syndicated radio show; DJ Hamp Swain; Fred and Dinah Gretsch of Gretsch guitars; the late Christian singer and songwriter Dottie Rambo; and rapper and actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.

When Widespread Panic prepared to take the stage to perform, the night's co-host Monica Pearson said of the crowd, "I think they're ready."

And they were.

They may have sat at tables covered in linen tablecloths and paid $75 for their tickets, but this was not the type of audience to clap politely or clink on a wine glass.

When Widespread Panic took the stage at the end of the show, music fans in their suits and cocktail dresses rushed to the pit below the stage to hear the band play "Up All Night."

They danced and hollered through the band's second song, "Ain't Life Grand."

Chuck Leavell, known for playing the keyboard with bands like The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band, presented the award to Widespread Panic.

"I love these guys," Leavell said. "Even though they've never been embraced by mainstream radio, they've sold over 3 million records. . . Widespread Panic has proved you can be successful by doing things your own way."

The members of Widespread Panic, all dressed in suits, filed onto stage behind guitarist/vocalist John Bell, who took the mic to give the band's thanks.

He talked about the early days of the Athens band, which formed in 1986. He talked about weekly gigs at Athens' old Uptown Lounge and going to Waffle House afterward.

"We were not looking to this day 20 years in the future," Bell said.


JB's acceptance speech

Over the years, Widespread Panic has toured relentlessly, landing in Pollstar's Top 50 Tours every year for the past decade, and played more than 2,000 shows over their career.

The band's popularity reaches far outside the South. This year, the mayor of Denver named June 27 Widespread Panic Day to honor the band's 32nd sold-out show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - more than any band in the venue's history.

John Keane, an Athens producer who has a long history of working with the band, made the drive to Atlanta to see Widespread Panic's induction.

"I know they're glad to have stayed together this long and stuck with it," he said.

Check out>> the video:
Members of Widespread Panic talk about the honor of being inducted before the Georgia Music Hall of Fame ceremony

Jimmy Herring CD Debuts October 21


The first solo record from Guitar maestro Jimmy Herring considered by many musicians and fans to be one of the hottest guitarists on the planet. It is surprising that it took him this long to launch his debut record after founding or performing with outstanding bands and projects - the Legendary Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z, Frogwings, Jazz is Dead with Billy Cobham, Alphonso Johnson,
T Lavitz, Allman Brothers, The Dead, Phil Lesh, Justice League and currently fulfilling guitar duties for jam band phenom, Widespread Panic.

pre-order now available!

This outstanding effort which insiders and fellow musicians calling it an absolute musical masterpiece is full of surprises that elevates Jimmy's already fantastic reputation to be an outstanding guitarist.

Jimmy Herring wrote six of the tunes along with Kofi Burbridge who wrote two tunes as well. They also do scintillating versions of Wayne Shorter's Lost as well the Overture from Walt Disney's Jungle Book.

Get ready for one of most impressive musical statements by one of our very favorite musicians.
Jimmy Herring (Guitar); Oteil Burbridge (Bass); Kofi Burbridge (Piano, Keyboards); Jeff Sipe, aka APT Q-258 (Drums); Special Guests : Greg Osby (Sax); Matt Slocum (Keyboards); Derek Trucks (Slide Guitar); Bobby Lee Rodgers (Leslie and Rhythm Guitar); Ike Stubblefield (Hammond B3), Tyler Greenwell (Drums), Scott Kinsey (Organ)
You can read more here at


Update on Halloween Show

10/31/05 Halloween in Vegas

New Shipping information: Due to hurricane Gustavo, we will not be able to get our ticket supply from UNO until the end of the week, so we have made a few adjustments to our Ticketing schedule.

Mail Order will now ship out Sept 17th 2day delivery via FedEx
the Public On Sale Date is now Sept 26th.

If you do not receive you tickets by Sept 24th, give us a call and we will be glad to check on your order. Thanks for all your patience.

As you know Halloween is inevitably one of most anticipated shows of the year as the band is known for their outrageous stage productions and costumes. This year is no exception with the show selling out 8,000 capacity Civic Centre in just minutes. Past Halloween shows have included themes such as Mars Attacks, where a space ship crash landed onto the stage, and a Mardi Gras themed Bourbon Street.
Always a great time to be had and this year in New Orleans should be wildfun.

I wonder what the boys will costume themselves with this year?

Take a look at last years pics from Asheville.

See ya there!?!

Win Widespread Panic - Mud Island Tickets

Widespread Panic Wednesday
7:30 PM
Mud Island Amphitheatre
(Memphis, TN)

Memphis Flyer online is giving away tickets to Widespread Panic's Mud Island show Oct 15th. They'll be giving away tickets for rows 5 through 1
each week!

Try your luck here and keep trying each week.

Good Luck! Widespread Panic Returns for Halloween

Widespread Panic returns to New Orleans for Halloween;
on sale date pushed back to Sept. 26

Posted by Keith Spera, Music writer, The Times-Picayune

Georgia jam band Widespread Panic is returning to the UNO Lakefront Arena on Halloween for the first time since 2002. The band performs at the arena Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Pre-sale mail order tickets are already sold out; the remaining allotment of tickets were originally scheduled to go on sale to the public on Sept. 12. However, promoter Live Nation has pushed back that on-sale date to Sept. 26 because of the lingering effects of Hurricane Gustav.

Panic's Halloween stands at the Lakefront Arena -- the longest run was three consecutive nights -- have typically sold out well in advance. Fans travel to New Orleans from around the country, and in years past have camped on the arena grounds. However, no camping will be allowed after this year's shows, says arena manager Marco Perez.

On Halloween night, many fans wear costumes, as do members of the band. The musicians surprise fans with unexpected covers sprinkled into their improvisational roots rock 'n' soul. At the 2002 Halloween show, those covers included War's "Slippin' Into Darkness," the Little Feat instrumental "Skin It Back," James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)" and rapper Nelly's "Hot In Herre."

Two New Orleans favorites will open the shows. Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews opens the Oct. 31 show, and Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk is on the bill for Nov. 1.

Palladia airs Rothbury w/ Widespread Panic

Palladia TV formerly MHD (on Dish Sat) will air portions of the Rothbury 2008 festival in HD this weekend.

The hour show will include Dave Matthews, Gomez, Primus, as well as Widespread Panic performing Love Tractor.

Recorded in Rothbury, MI 7-5-08

Panic Books Denver Arena for New Year's Eve

Widespread Panic ringing in New Year

Widespread Panic will wrap up 2008 and ring in the New Year in Denver with a pair of concerts Dec. 30 and 31 at the Pepsi Center.

Tickets go on sale to Widespread Panic's fan club, via mail order, on Monday, and to the general public on Oct. 11.


Sept 20th Hall Of Fame Awards


30th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards

Dates: Sat, Sep 20, 2008
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Phone: (770) 491-9494
Location: Thomas B. Murphy Ballroom, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards celebrates its 30th anniversary with a gala event.

Confirmed 2008 inductees include: Group: Widespread Panic; Pioneer: Fred and Dinah Gretsch; Songwriter: Keith Sweat; Posthumous: Dottie Rambo; Non-Performer: Hamp Swain. Individual tickets and tables are available through the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc.. For further info or to purchase tickets, call (770) 491-9494. The 30th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards will be telecast live at 8:30 p.m. on Sat. Sept. 20 on GPB.

Thumbs up and down from Snowmass Sun

from Snowmass

Thumbs up: The so-called “jazz” shows this past weekend were some of the best in memory. Widespread Panic draws a crowd that parties like no other group. It was interesting to watch the transition from the younger Widespread crowd to Bob Dylan’s old fogies. But the fogies do rock.

Thumbs up: John Fogerty’s (Fogerty’s fogies?) high-energy show was one of the best of the weekend even though far fewer people showed up to see it. It’s rare to see a band that has so many songs entrenched in our minds. Hardly a song was sung that the crowd didn’t know by heart. I haven’t seen a show like that since The Kinks’ 25th anniversary tour that, by the way, would be an excellent band to book for our “jazz” show.

Thumbs down: The results are in and about 95 percent of the Village agrees –Bob Dylan sucked. As a matter of fact, there’s a persistent rumor that it wasn’t even Dylan that stood stock-still like a wax figurine and butchered song after song. The idea that this primadonna wouldn’t allow himself to be photographed or allow the video cameras to show the concert on the big screen is the reason for this suspicion. Some thought he was lip-syncing, but it’s inconceivable that anyone could possibly record such a bad set of songs and then present them as a live concert. He may be a living legend, but he is the definition of “sucks.”

Thumbs down: During the Dylan show the security Nazis were running through the crowd confiscating cameras. These overzealous power hungry punks should be curtailed. Hassling the fans is not good customer service no matter what the eccentric stiff on the stage demanded. In the day and age of a camera on every phone, the days of no cameras in concerts are over. Good riddance.

Thumbs down: Running out of toilet paper in the porta-potties Friday night was a problem that should’ve easily been anticipated. You know how many people are entering the venue and there should be a mathematical equation that can compute how many squares per person will be needed. Maybe the porta-potty people thought that the crowd was full of Sheryl Crow clones using two squares per wipe.

Thumbs up: The Village Market reports that cigarette sales doubled on Friday. Indeed, it appeared that everyone at the Widespread show was smoking something or other. This made a joke of Snowmass Village’s ridiculous smoking law. It was a great idea, but it doesn’t work.

Thumbs up: The Widespread crowd packed our little village. Parking bled onto Fanny Hill with over 200 cars parked out there on Saturday morning. Traffic jams clogged Owl Creek on Thursday. The lodges were full for two nights, perhaps busier than any given week in the winter with the exception of Christmas week. However, I hear that many lodges weren’t too happy with the guests. Rooms were overstuffed flophouses that were trashed when the party moved on. The all–night partying disturbed other guests who were unlucky enough to be accidentally staying in Snowmass over those two nights. There will need to be a lot of assessment before hosting Widespread Panic again. I say bring them back once a month.

Thumbs down: I know from my experience that five days of concerts is stretching the limited resources of Snowmass. The extra day is one day too many. Employees were strained and service likely suffered because of it. While we are assessing whether to bring back that Widespread group of hard partying folks, we should talk seriously about whether it is smart to hold five days of concerts.

Thumbs up: Yonder Mountain String Band was a breath of fresh air on Monday. These guys play some mean Bluegrass. Like Fogerty the night before, the attendance had shrunk even more as each day saw less and less concert-goers. This is another problem with the five-day schedule – it destroys Monday’s concert attendance – which is a disservice to the bands that play their heart out on that day.

Thumbs up: The minor problems I mention arise simply because the Jazz Aspen/Snowmass concerts are a victim of their own success. By all appearances this event did very well. The weather cooperated beautifully, waiting until 5:30 p.m. on Monday for the Yonder Mountain boys to wrap up their set to change dramatically to full-blown winter. It was a perfect weekend and Jim Horowitz and his team deserves a huge congratulation for pulling it off so well.

Outside Lands Fest

This was the first ever Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival but I'm sure there will be many more to follow since this was a huge success as far as attendance. Actual attendance numbers weren't available but some are calling it the West Coast Bonnaroo.

The three-day fest consisted of more than 60 acts including headliners Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Beck and Widespread Panic. The fest didn't considered Panic a main headliner since most came from around the west coast areas to see Radiohead and Tom Petty.

Held in Northern Californina the evenings were chilly, damp and foggy. With no parking nearby the grounds police estimated about 40,000 arrived by foot or bicycle to hit the six stages on the 60 acres. 60 acres sounds like a lot of room but around the stages people were packed in like sardines.

It was Green! The fest did well maintaining an overall eco-friendly environment with the use of solar power, recycling and biodiesel generators.

Other than the transportation and crowd-control issues there was some technical difficulties as well. The loss of sound during Radiohead's performance, not once, but a couple of times left some attendees shouting "I want a refund."

Check out this video clip from San Francisco talking a bit about
the fest which includes some highlights from Widespread Panic's show.

Next up for the boys...
Aspen Jazz Fest, Aug 28 and 29 marking the end of their summer tour.


Widespread Panic Summer Dates

House of Blues -Myrtle Beach, SC July 23,2008

Jun 15, - Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival - Manchester, TN
Jun. 20, 21, 22 - Orpheum Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Jun. 24 - Civic Theatre - San Diego, CA
Jun. 25 - Pine Mountain Amphitheater - Flagstaff, AZ
Jun. 27, 28, 29 Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO
Jul. 01, 02, - Uptown Theate - Kansas City, MO
Jul 04, - "Rothbury Festival" -
Rothbury, MI Double JJ Resort
Jul. 05, - Sound Academy - Toronto, ON - Canada
Jul. 06, - Ottawa Bluesfest - Ottawa, ON - Canada
Jul. 10, - Bank of America Pavilion - Boston, MA
Jul. 11, - Festival Pier @ Penn's Landing - Philadelphia, PA
Jul 12, - All Good Music Festival -
Masontown, WV
Jul. 14, 15, 16 - Tennessee Theatre -Knoxville, TN
Jul. 18, - Plain Dealer Pavilion - Cleveland, OH
Jul. 19, - Ntelos Wireless Pavilion - Portsmouth, VA
Jul. 21, 22, 23 - House of Blues - Myrtle Beach, SC
Jul. 25, 26 - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre -Charlotte, NC


Aug 24, - "Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival"
San Francisco, CA Golden Gate Park

Aug 28, 29 - Aspen, CO Jazz Aspen Snowmass




Athens, Ga., July 11, 2008 - Widespread Panic will be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame at the 30th Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards Show on Saturday, September 20th in Atlanta, GA.

The show will broadcast live on Georgia Public Broadcasting and will include a special performance from the band.
Past inductees include Georgia musicians including Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, R.E.M., and the Allman Brothers Band as well as industry professionals such as music attorney Joel Katz and record label owner Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

"Sharing this honor... with so many of our greatest musical influences, is something I'm sure none of the Band members imagined when we first started making music together. September 20th is going to be a truly special day for the entire Widespread Panic Family," says John Bell, vocalist and founding member of Widespread Panic.

Widespread Panic was founded in Athens, GA in 1986 and has since become a national touring force that has landed in Pollstar’s top 50 tours of the year for the past decade, has sold 3 million albums and played over 2,374 shows over their career. Despite thousands of concerts, the band has managed to never perform the same set list twice. The band released their 10th studio album, Free Somehow, in February 2008 via their own Widespread Records and has a catalogue of 19 albums to date that includes 8 live albums and 1 compilation.

Widespread Panic is currently on the road on their Summer 2008 tour, which kicked off with their 7th headlining performance at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. In addition to Bonnaroo, the band has headlined almost every major festival in the US including Lollapalooza, 10,000 Lakes, Rothbury, Austin City Limits, Jazz Aspen, Vegoose, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Their incomparable live show has earned Widespread Panic attendance records across the country.

This June, the Mayor of Denver, CO declared June 27 "Widespread Panic Day" in the City and County of Denver marking Widespread Panic’s 32nd sold out show at Red Rocks Ampitheatre- more than any other band in history.

Widespread Panic utilizes their large success to give back to the community. Widespread Panic has played an active role in the Georgia music community, most notably playing annual concerts that benefit “Tunes for Tots,” an organization dedicated to support music education in Georgia area schools. To date, the concerts have raised over $350,000. In addition, the band recently sponsored a home in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward through the Make It Right foundation which inspired fans to spearhead a house of their own, “The House that Widespread Panic Fans Built.” Their fans have also come together to form Panic Fans for Food, a volunteer organization that holds food drives at shows to benefit the local food bank in that market. To date, PFFF have collected over $70,000, 13 tons of food in 28 cities. Widespread Panic charitable contributions also include John Bell’s annual Hannah’s Buddies Charity Golf Classic that raises money for Spinal Muscular Atrophy research.

The 30th Annual Awards Banquet, to be held Saturday, Sept. 20 in the Thomas B. Murphy Ballroom of the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, will recognize those who have made significant contributions to Georgia’s music industry. The banquet is hosted each year by the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. and
the Senate Music Industry Committee. Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. has been keeping the arts alive in Georgia communities by recognizing and promoting artists and the music industry for the past 30 years. Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. is a non-profit organization that honors the many achievements of Georgia musicians, songwriters, composers, conductors, publishers and agents.

Each year, Friends of Georgia Music nominates, elects and inducts honorees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, celebrating individuals who have made a significant contribution to Georgia’s musical traditions. Friends of Georgia Music also provides scholarships to assist future musicians, songwriters and composers to continue their education and pursue their dreams.

30th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards
Dates: Sat, Sep 20, 2008
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Phone: (770) 491-9494
Location: Thomas B. Murphy Ballroom, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards celebrates its 30th anniversary with a gala event. Confirmed 2008 inductees include: Group: Widespread Panic; Pioneer: Fred and Dinah Gretsch; Songwriter: Keith Sweat; Posthumous: Dottie Rambo; Non-Performer: Hamp Swain. Individual tickets and tables are available through the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc.. For further info or to purchase tickets, call (770) 491-9494. The 30th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards will be telecast live at 8:30 p.m. on Sat. Sept. 20 on GPB.

Singer finds 'natural adventure' on course

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Every time he takes a stage with Widespread Panic, and that's some 250 times a year, lead singer John Bell must make the familiar music new. His legions of "Spreadhead" followers expect each evening to be a completely authentic experience of Southern jam music that Bell and company started in Athens two decades ago.

To see how he pulls it off musically, watch Bell, 46, play golf. He's on the same quest for the real, only with a club and a ball.

He's out to discover what the environment, his intuition and the moment create.

"This is fun," he says, smiling, as he tees off at Druid Hills Golf Club last week, having driven down from his home in north Georgia. Widespread Panic is on a break between the release of the new CD "Free Somehow" and headlining the Bonnaroo fest in mid-June.

His first drive is average, but he doesn't try another. Unlike most casual golfers who skirt the rules, Bell treats each shot as a unique personal challenge. As in a concert, there are no do-overs. His music, golf and life are played in real time.

Bell is not bothered by marking a 10 (that's not a typo) as his score on a single hole. He does that twice. His sunny disposition does not waver.

Don't call him a purist, though.

"I'm more of the Pigpen of golf!" he says. His flannel shirt and jeans are gone, replaced by an untucked polo shirt, pleated trousers and a Panama hat taming his shoulder-length graying hair.

Evolution of Bell's passions

Golf gave rise to Bell's musical style. His music, in turn, transformed golf into a new quest.

He learned the game as a kid in Cleveland, where by age 10 he had already played some of the best courses in Jack Nicklaus country. By 17, he had already shot 74, almost par.

He was a "feel" player, driven not by technique but by a vision of how a ball should move between grass and sky. He's still that way, as shown by his best shot of the day.

About 20 yards below the mounded second green, he putts perfectly to a few feet from the cup. It's the kind of creative shot that Tiger Woods pulls off in the British Open, one that most golfers would never think of trying.

As a kid, golf was Bell's opportunity to conquer; team sports had little room for a free spirit.

"In organized sports, they just kept me on the team for entertainment," he says.

He still uses the grooved blade putter from his tempestuous teenaged years ("I had to climb a few trees to get it back," he says of the times he launched the club in disgust). And he still twirls the putter in his hand as he bows to line up a putt, tuning his instinct as he reads the slope.

When he was in high school, his family would drive from Ohio to golf vacations in Sea Island, and that exposure led to Bell attending the University of Georgia. By then, music had replaced golf, partly because a bad sunburn had messed up his swing.

Part of what carried over to music was his belief in his own style. "I was lucky. There were 12 guys in my high school that sang just like James Taylor," he says on the ninth hole. There, he needs four shots to get out of the pine needles and ends up with a quintuple-bogey 10. That gives him a 53 on the front nine, 17 over par.

"That was intense!" he says.

Why no club throwing now?

He explains as the back nine gets underway.

'Like rock and roll'

As Widespread Panic began to build an appeal akin to the Grateful Dead, Bell put up his clubs for 15 years, and when he returned, the music had erased his golf ego.

Jamming night after night, extending the songs depending on the vibe from other musicians and the crowd, had transformed how he viewed golf. The two became so intertwined that on show days, he'd play a round then perform in his golf clothes and spikeless shoes.

He rates Woods as golf's equivalent of Delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson.

"Golf is so much like rock and roll," he says. "Anything can happen. You try to do your best, but you're constantly having to make adjustments. It doesn't even have to be with the music on stage. It could be the bus breaking down." Each shot, like each note he played to his audience, reminded him he was truly alive. A good stroke or sound was pure surprise that often transported him into new space and time.

"It's like you get lost in the woods," he says on No. 15 tee, about to do just that. "We start out wanting to do a one-hour set. Then you look up and it's gone 1 hour, 20 minutes. You've lost your way. Time kind of loses its value, becomes distorted. You know what you want and you play and you feel it, and that's the ultimate confirmation that it's happening. You get your brain out of it and you stay in it. You know what song you're singing, but you're lost in it." His drive hooks into the trees.

"Oh, that's beautiful," he says. "This is going to be cool." "Being the ball" is a state of mind most golfers joke about after the catchphrase from the movie "Caddyshack." Bell, though, was serious. He studied "The Rules of Golf," akin to curling up with the Georgia Code, and metaphysical books such as "Golf in The Kingdom" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

"There's magic to be had by if you play the ball as it is," he says as he makes an 8.

"I do it because the game opens up and has a more fascinating quality if you play by the rules ... and you've had your natural adventure."

His score irrelevant, Bell is free to absorb everything else on the course. At Druid Hills, Bell notices turtles sunning, a lizard smushed by a golf cart ("poor little dude") and a gingko tree. He talks of the tomatoes, sunflowers and custom rain barrels that he and his wife Laura arranged at their Clarkesville farm.

"This is one of the most pleasant rounds of 110 I've ever had," he says on the final tee.

Make that 111. He was higher than the standard of par by almost 40 shots. Not that it matters to an artist with a self-described "maverick edge."

For 4 1/2 hours he has been nearly anonymous. He has left no trace of his path, carefully repairing all of his divots and ballmarks. But his zen is soon broken.

A few steps off the final green, he is approached by an incredulous club member who has seen about 15 Panic shows.

Brent Dundun, 32, asks Bell to sign a scorecard, and Bell is cool with that. The round ends with a benediction.

The fan: "Rock on man."

John Bell: "Dig it."


Denver Proclaims Widespread Panic Day

Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper Proclaims....

At the end of Widespread Panic's sold-out run last weekend, the band had played it's 32nd Sold Out show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - more than any other band in the venue's history.

Red Rocks officials honored the band with a special award presentation, and a mayoral proclamation calling Friday, June 27 “Widespread Panic Day" in the City and County of Denver.

Dave Schools and John Bell during
the press conference in Denver


JB Interview on Fox News: 6/13/08


Rolling Stone goes on the Bus with Panic

While Widespread Panic was performing in New York, Rolling Stone took a ride with the boys and got a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road... all captured on video.

Check out Rolling Stone's 9 part video chronicles.

Panic's Walnut Creek Highlights Fiddle Player

Violin player Ann Marie Calhoun was on hand April 26th during Widespread Panic's show at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh.

Ann Marie, who has a great solo performance video of 'Surprise Valley' circulating around the web, sat in on fiddle for five songs which included Surprise Valley, Driving, Heaven, Driving Song, and Fishwater.

Check out her YouTube video:

The April 26th show Bittorrent is available for download at

or stream the music from


Widespread April 22 Savannah Photos

Hey there ya'll!
There are some nice photos from Panic's April 22nd Savannah, GA show taken by Ian Rawn aka playindead.

Check out his flicker pics, including the Savannah show, here...

Widespread Panic
Savannah, GA
April 22, 2008 talks with John Bell

John Bell Loses His Illusions
Mike Greenhaus @

John Bell isn’t only one of the most influential musicians to come out of the second-wave jamband movement, he’s also one of the most intelligent. As Widespread Panic’s lead singer and primary lyricist, Bell has written some of the jam-era’s most endearing anthems, held his band together through a series of key personnel changes and helped bring a stately elegance to the festival-circuit in general (while still remaining humble both on and off the stage). While Widespread Panic is always an active force, 2008 will be a particularly busy year for the sextet thanks to the group’s first post-Katrina appearance at JazzFest, fifth headlining slot at Bonnaroo and the release of the new studio album, Free Somehow. Shortly before the album hit stores, Bell sat down with to discuss his favorite lyrical themes, jamming with Jimmy Herring and why throwing a festival is like owning a bus.

MG- Unlike Widespread Panic’s previous albums, you shied away from playing most of the material on Free Somehow before entering the studio. What was the process of reworking these songs for the stage like?

JB- Let’s see. Well, specifically, I think songs like “Tickle the Truth,” that one we played live and it’s fine where it is. I mean as far as like, when you get something like “Up all Night,” and there is a feeling that at the moment it’s cut and dry and as soon as we take the time to sit around together, we’re probably going to extend it a little bit. And that’s basically like “Crazy,” from the last album, which has that essence to it too. It’s full of cool parts, but you want kind of a jumping off place, you know? And some songs hanker for that. So those don’t feel like they need embellishment aside from the way you approach the song as it is, which would just be from the notes you pick for that night or the tempo or words or if something else pops in or you might find something better that’ll be right for that number or just a joke or it might be something like, “Damn I wish I thought of in the studio.”

MG- Before releasing Free Somehow you previewed a few songs online for fans. What led to that decision?

JB- Well, we’re still trying to tweak that process. The delivery system from bands to fans has been constantly evolving. And obviously in a rapid exponential evolution since the digital age and the internet age came into the picture it’s like, “whoa.” Before that, things moved a little slower.

Plus, this album is a big part of our balance and our relationship with Jimmy [Herring] in the band. And it’s been a long time since our last record. It always feels like a long time, you know? You’re always ready to do something. And because the album wasn’t really finished as far as mix down and stuff went and as far as how we were feeling about wanting to share stuff, it was like, “Well OK, let’s share some stuff.” So we released a single “Up All Night” real early and then went through the same rigmarole that we do with the release of every new record.

MG- As a musician, how do you feel the “artist fan delivery method” has changed over the years?

JB- We were starting to do stuff right when everything was changing. We put out Space Wrangler on album and cassette and, at a last minute, our manager said, “You know, I think we should go ahead and do the CD.” Hell, we didn’t have any technology, we were lucky to have electricity. And he was like, “No, this is going to be big.” At that point tapes and albums were still like 90 percent of the sales. But you could watch it in Billboard, like within six or eight months, the ratio of CDs to albums in the bins started changing in the record stores. I forget what held on longer, cassettes or albums, not that it’s important, but you just watch it and go, “Oh my God there’s a phenomenon going on here.” And then people started buying CD players.

MG- You’ve said that having Jimmy in the studio put him on an equal footing with you guys for the first time because he was no longer a student of the music. How did he contribute to the album’s creative process?

JB- I think it was cool because we were open and he was very, very involved. And we were hearing not only Jimmy’s voice, which was new, because we’re used to each other’s voices, but [producer Terry Manning’s] voice too. So here were two new guys, basically, that are hearing each other for the first time. So there was an element of being at the beginning of sixth or seventh grade and having a new kid move into your area. You know your pick up games and he’s new so he’s not going to try to change them just yet, but things take on a new dimension. For the first time, with this new album, Jimmy feels free to be able to contribute with the songwriting. That’s how we’ve always done things. Everybody’s in there writing.

MG- In terms of your own lyrics, do you feel there are any common themes running through Free Somehow?

JB- If I was in English class saying, “Ok now where are the threads here,” I’d notice right off the bat the premise that we’re all working in these shared realms of illusion, where whatever your reality is, you’ve got a reality that’s uniquely your own. Elements are shared so there is some kind of connectivity there. But, bottom line, you’re still in this kind of tug between realizing that it’s all an illusion and dealing with this notion that I really believe is part of the illusion. I believe that I’m working with and around other entities that are experiencing separateness with their own assumed realities.

You have your own personal reality, which I really do believe, is uniquely your own. Even though you and I can both agree to stop at the stoplight at an appropriate time because green means go it is only because we agreed and put enough force into this illusion that that becomes a recognizable reality for us both, even though we’ve never met. But while we are having our own illusions with our own personalities, there is the notion within that belief that we’re having a collectively conceived and created existence. And I just use movie as an analogy. So, I mean, that’s what I’m toying with in my own life, and hopefully not too seriously, because I’m still pretending this whole thing. But there again other things that pop up as kind of corollary considerations come up lyrically and out-of-body experiences and reincarnation pop up a little bit too.

I heard something somewhere, which really blew me away…if you have certain considerations or certain ways of thinking, whether it’s religion or theories or practices, mediations or yoga, something like that, that’s all illusion too. But then I heard, the notion was put forth, that “Hey, there are some illusions that if you incorporate them as part of your daily consideration, some of those illusions are actually windows where you can begin to let go and get closer to the ultimate reality.”

MG- Given that we are all living in a reality it is uniquely our own, do you feel your lyrics can take on truly universal meanings?

JB- When I’m tapping my subconscious for lyrics, or if I’m tapping my subconscious to try to interpret what someone else has started lyrically---because when we get together sometimes we co-write certain things lyrical---another interesting thing, which is a little bit of a departure, is a song like “Walk on the Flood.” And hopefully it’s left in enough of a metaphorical state that it can kind of tap into that window of where other people can find their own experience within that, you know what I mean?

MG- When we talked while you were in the studio last fall, you mentioned that you try to write songs that work on several different levels, some literal, some metaphorical. Do you feel this is still the case?

JB- Getting away from specifics and stuff, for me, my intention is really trying to get away from the intention of giving my lyrics meaning. It’s weird, trying to put together a meaningful song, that you know has meaning but is going to mean something to as many people as possible. Their level of observation or experience or awareness or something like that can very different. We don’t want to create a country club where you know nobody’s allowed, or that anybody’s dictating what the reality is.

But that being said, what I thought was really interesting is that in my songs there’s still a whole lot of hope involved. That’s another thread that I think that is involved no matter where we go. As far as exploring any of the dreamy or nightmarish places that pop up in your considerations, that there’s always a sense of hope. And in my belief system there is hope.

I think one of the big things, if you’re getting into a place of a making a statement or voicing a bald-face opinion, is to remember your responsibility and acknowledge your own responsibility of making that consideration a reality. I think that’s pretty important with anything.

MG- Knowing that it is all an illusion, how do you put enough stock into your thoughts to create such universally meaningful lyrics?

JB- I listen for what feels and sounds right, a lot of songs begin with just blurting stuff out trying to kind of tap the subconscious and see what comes up. But then when I take it from a different angle or point of view and start seeing what has been bubbling up, then I take on the responsibility of seeing exactly what’s coming together and then trying craft it as a song. I do look back and there are times where, you know… well, actually, even with this booklet, we actually printed the songs in this booklet and I think it’s the first time we’ve ever done it in what, 22 years we’ve been together or whatever, but there’s a disclaimer that says all lyrics are subject to change. Because I am going to depart from them on stage, for better or worse, it is part of the adventure. But there are times where I look back and say, “Gosh if I could sit with these songs for ten years and I’d keep massaging them, stuff will keep coming out and I’ll go, “Oh, I should have picked that or this would have been more descriptive.” But at the time, I’ve tried to get out of the way and let the lyrics be very representative of open interpretation while still being, hopefully, tapping into something where there is a cohesive song there. Mostly it’s subconscious, you know? If I get into feelings and thoughts while they do emerge, they could cloud it.

MG- Having said all that, do you find it strange when someone interprets one of your lyrics in a complete different way than intended? I mean you’ve been quoted on countless people’s High School yearbook pages.

JB- But the subconscious, the shit that I’ve been hiding, that’s usually what’s the most interesting. If I get into opinion world or emotional world, then it’s kind of like that could lend itself to being a little too preachy or controlling, and I think that would be a warning sign that the song could stagnate, it would be more of a celebration of self importance or something. But I do feel the emotions and what I do feel is like on the intellectual and emotional level.

When I’m writing it’s like intellectually I go, “Oh! Ooo!” I recognize that I am not controlling this right now that I am reporting. And emotionally then I get that “Ooo! Ooo!” Feeling like “Alright alright! It’s like, Ooo! We’re here!” You’re just really happy to have found that place because you don’t always get there. You know you’re feeling the flow, and that in itself evokes an emotion of blues-man giddiness.

MG- I think many people are also curious why Widespread Panic has never organized its own festival.

JB- Well, one very really hip thing that started out in a wonderful way was H.O.R.D.E. It was a very innocent time. It was the beginning for a lot of bands like Blues Traveler and Phish. There were five bands at that time and we shared those gigs, so that festival-sense did occur. Then there was also another thing, and I wouldn’t call it a festival, but it was a multi-band situation that we were putting together, basically just like you do any gig. You have your gig and you have an opening act, and this situation it was summer time and we were adding a lot of other acts. I think in their innocence, and I got to be cool here, I think there were some folks that decided at the last minute, unfortunately, that they should go off and do their own thing, create their own kind of festival.

It’s kind of freaky because you gotta remember that you’re dealing with all the same promoters, same agents, and the same venues around the country. And everybody pretty much knows what everyone’s doing. There’s traffic out there, there are a lot of bands coming through and their promoters that are coordinating what is possible and making sure that each night is lucrative for themselves and for the bands as possible. So we did have something in the bag, and free will took its place. And that turned out to be less than a festival. It turned out to be a summer with a couple really great acts on the bill, with G Love & Special Sauce and Sister 7.

Of course we’ve done other things as they’ve popped up like Bonnaroo, aside from the already established festivals like Memphis and New Orleans, and some of the jazz fests out in Colorado. Bonnaroo really has been a wonderful example of doin’ it in a big way but not contaminating it too much with a lot of the crap that could bring a festival down. It’s stayed really hip, keeping the line-ups varied from year to year, so I don’t know. If you do your own festival, it’d be kind of the like difference between do you want to own bus or do you want to lease? If you buy a bus, you got all the headache that comes off it, which includes insurance, liability and taking care of the whole shoot and match repairs. But if you lease, you got a brand new bus and if the bus messes up, then you get another one.

MG- And it comes with its own driver! One final question, I know you are a huge Star Trek fan. Do you prefer Next Generation or the original?

JB- Well, you know, I loved the original, but with Next Generation you jump ahead 20 years with the cinematography, the acting and everything, so it’s hard to say. I used to go get the Star Trek magazines at Borders and stuff, but I was under the impression that they were finished with this particular ensemble. But William Shatner really kicked ass in the original. What a character.

OMFG!! Drugs at a Widespread Panic Show?

Widespread arrests in Orange Beach
Posted by Guy Busby, Staff Reporter

Nearly 150 arrests were made in connection with the the jam band Widespread Panic's concert last weekend in Orange Beach -- many of them drug-related charges, police said.

Undercover and uniformed police patrolled the parking lot and amphitheater of The Wharf during the three-day event in Orange Beach, arresting suspects on a total of 147 charges ranging from underage drinking to felony drug possession, officials said today.

The band played Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at the venue on Alabama 180. About 23,000 people attended total, said Peter Bryan, general manager of The Wharf amphitheater.

Nearly 25 officers from Orange Beach, Foley, the Baldwin County Drug Task Force and Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board worked the concert in conjunction with security at The Wharf, Assistant Police Chief Greg Duck said. Duck said few disturbances were reported.

"It was more like a Woodstock crowd, peace and love," he said.

He said officers made 10 arrests for possession of hallucinogens, including LSD and mushrooms. Some hallucinogenic mushrooms were coated in chocolate.

"They looked like Reese's Cups, seriously," Duck said.

Widespread Panic Spring 08 -All Done!

SPRING TOUR 2008 Apr 2008 - May 2008

Apr. 01, Washington, DC -Warner Theatre
Apr. 04 & 05, New York, NY -United Palace
Apr. 06, Albany, NY -Palace Theatre
Apr. 09, Cincinnati, OH -US Bank Arena
Apr. 11, 12 & 13, Chicago, IL -Auditorium Theatre

Apr. 16, Murfreesboro, TN -Murphy Center
Apr. 18, 19 & 20, Orange Beach, AL -The Wharf
Apr. 22 & 23, Savannah, GA -Johnny Mercer Theatre
Apr. 25 & 26, Raleigh, NC -Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Apr. 27, Richmond, VA -Landmark Theater

Apr. 29, Columbia, SC -Township Auditorium
May. 01, New Orleans, LA -New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
May. 02, Houston, TX - Showgrounds @ Sam Houston
May. 03, Dallas, TX - Nokia Theatre

Dave Schools talks Orange Beach

Panic! at the Wharf
Widespread Panic visits Orange Beach once again

By LAWRENCE SPECKER Entertainment Reporter (Press-Register@

When Widespread Panic wrapped up its 2007 spring tour with two nights in Orange Beach, it seemed like any fan of the band could hardly ask for more: An outdoor setting, pleasant spring weather, all the accommodations and a attractions of a resort area.

But of course, a true fan always has a wish list. For example, "How about three nights next time?"

Wish granted. The titans of the jam-band scene return to Orange Beach for shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A week and a half later they come back to the coast for their first appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival since before Hurricane Katrina hit.

That's a whole lot of Panic, especially the three nights in little Orange Beach. But bassist Dave Schools said it all comes down to keeping listeners happy.

"It's a cool place, it's an interesting little area," he said. "And I think the reason that it was so popular with the fans is that they could all get condos, they could all stay there, there's some things for them to do around there, there's beaches and fishing and so forth, and they just make a whole weekend out of it. They come from everywhere."

It doesn't hurt that the band, which has been making music since the late '80s, has a lot new to offer.

For one thing, there's a renewed sense of cohesion. Following the 2002 death of founding guitarist Michael Houser, the survivors -- Schools, guitarist/vocalist/principal songwriter John Bell, keyboardist John "JoJo" Hermann, drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Domingo Ortiz -- took 2004 off. George McConnell's tenure as a replacement ended amid tension in early 2006; since then, Jimmy Herring has settled into the role, enjoying markedly better fan response.

A new studio album released earlier this year, "Free Somehow," is Herring's first as a full contributor. Freshening things up further, the band created most of the songs in the studio rather than first developing them in live play, its usual approach.

That has its good and bad points, Schools said. On the plus side, it's a lot of new territory to play around in.

"We actually pulled them all out the very first night of the tour, because it was April Fool's Day," he said. "We thought, you know, why prolong the nervousness on our part over having to break it out over the course of a week -- you know, let's just get 'em all out there."

"Some of them are easier to pull off live than others. Some of them are going to take a few turns at the wheel before we really get our sea legs on them. But the ones we've been playing (regularly) so far have come along really well."

On the other hand, he said, the process has been a bit "divisive" for the fan base.

"There's a difference in how fans perceive it, too," he said. "They're super-analytical, they double-think everything."

He said he thinks it'll all smooth out as the band learns to fully exploit the potential in each song.

"The way we look at it is, the studio is a snapshot, and it's an opportunity to really gussy up the tunes," he said. "Whether they evolve to the forms that the appear on the record or evolve from the form they appear on the record doesn't really matter to us -- As long as they do evolve. That's what's important to us. And I think most of the diehard fans give us that."

Right up front, songs like "Boom Boom Boom" and "Walk on the Flood" strike the listener as being a bit more raucous, a bit more punchy than one might expect. This seems to come from Herring's guitar work, an impression Schools doesn't dispute.

"I think a lot of that has to do with a side of Jimmy Herring that maybe a lot of people who think they know Jimmy Herring don't know," Schools said. "Which is that he, just like us, was influenced by a lot of the hard rock must that was on the radio in the '70s when he was learning to play."

"Yeah, we're a little older and we love writing smoky ballads, because, you know, we're finally old and slow enough to do it," he said. But then he adds that "we all like a good rock and roll punch."

This might come as a surprise to those who know Panic only as "a jam band." But those who've witnessed them at work know there's a lot more cooking than an endless soup of stereotypically mellow meandering. The reality is more like a musical stew: A big hambone hunk of Southern rock might roll to the surface one minute, or one might encounter a positively jazz-like segue in the next.

So if the flavor has a little more gritty guitar rock this time around, why not? Schools said that in a case like the song "Walk on the Flood," where Bell was moved to write about the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, "that harder edge just seems like the right costume for those words."

Anticipating what their fellow band members are going to do is part of the magic, Schools said. But they don't try to anticipate the crowd, he said, even when they know they're going to be seeing many of the same people three nights in a row.

How does he expect the Orange Beach run to go?

"I think it depends on how much partying they do the first two nights," he said, laughing. "Those who've been into this band for a long time have learned how to pace themselves fairly well.

"As far as how we approach something like that, it is what it is. The one thing can really hurt us, we've found, is trying to overly second-guess what we think the audience wants. Because then the special things aren't going to happen that make us unique. It's best if we just look at the tour as a long arc."

"We try not to stuff the new material down their throats too much. And at the same time we try not to represent ourselves as some sort of nostalgia act, playing music from albums we put out 15 years ago. It's a delicate balance. But if we do what comes naturally to us, then I think everybody, band and audience, are pleased in the end."

To the extent that a certain percentage of the Widespread Panic fan base fondly links Panic imagery and marijuana references, and to the extent the numbers 4-20 are widely used to refer to denote marijuana appreciation, is there anything to be drawn from the fact that the third day of the set is April 20?

Schools jovially declined to touch the question.

"We're certainly not into numerology," he said.

What, then, about the band's return to Jazz Fest?

"One of the biggest honors we've ever enjoyed is to play Jazz Fest, and to have been a part of it for so many years," he said. "It was really difficult for us to stomach the fact, and it was a fact, that things were not working out for us to make a performance showing for New Orleans in the wake of the Katrina thing, but those were the simple facts.

"There were massive hard decisions to be made by the band and the management and the people who organized jazz Fest. We just found we weren't going to be able to do it, and that really bothered us," he said. "I mean, some of us couldn't sleep at night because of it.

"But we're just really happy that now we have a chance to come back and show our support in a way that is more publicly visible than the support we may have shown in the last few years."

As always, the road has more than its fair share of twists and turns. And to the fans headed for Orange Beach, Schools offered one last bit of advice, his tone suggesting that his tongue was firmly in cheek.

"I'll just say this: Just because there's a full moon one of the nights, don't expect us to play some crazy cover song," he said.

"We are not influenced by numerology or astrology."