Rock n’ roll royalty Widespread Panic returned to The St. Augustine Amphitheatre for a final Sunday show on the white beaches of St. Augustine, FL last night. Like the consistency of the tides turning, the seaworthy six-piece expertly steered through the familiar waters of their extensive repertoire churning out classic originals, covers honoring their mentors and influences, and nonstop jams.
Rolling up their sleeves, Panic set sail early in the day with the sun still high in the sky to navigate through the first section of music. The originals “Wondering” and “Good People” gave the veterans of the road a chance to showcase their time-honed cohesion. Taking command, John “JoJo” Hermann docked to lead the way through a labyrinth of narrow, twisting alleys inside the ancient city and into “Dark Bar”. After several rounds of proverbial drinks, JoJo relinquished his leadership to leave the safe harbor of his dive bar to finish the ode to the loyal community with the second half of “Good People”.
On the open water, Jimmy Herring honored the late Daniel Hutchens by cutting an early guitar solo into Bloodkin’s “Makes Sense to Me”. JoJo’s organ sounds carried over into a cover of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” which featured a saucy John Bell. After a brief pause, Dave Schools dropped anchor to embrace the ebb and flow of “Little Lilly”. Changing shifts and weighing anchor, the helmsman JB charted a course through “I’m Not Alone” to pick up marooned and shipwrecked sailors.
Winding down the first frame, Panic performed “Sundown Betty” before closing the set with a torrential “Chilly Water”. Afterward, Widespread coasted back into port to resupply. As water flew from its cups and containers and away from its dehydrated owners, the lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s salty epic ”Rime of the Ancient Mariner” came to mind: “Water, water, every where / Nor any drop to drink.”
After a set break gave the sun-baked crowd time to rehydrate, Panic returned with “There Is A Time”, covering The Dillards (or The Darlings for fans of The Andy Griffith Show). Foreshadowing a travel day on Monday for most, Panic loaded up an “Airplane”, taxied down the runway, and careened into a high-altitude “Take Off” jam.
The transition jam featured Little Feat and Chuck Berry teases before Widespread piloted full-steam into a maelstrom “Tie Your Shoes”. Crashlanding and washing ashore from the waterspout, JB met the rainmaker “Hatfield” and together chanted an improvised incantation: “I remember Hatfield’s Mama / she used to bring out homemade meatloaf / just the little ones / hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot / playing in the summertime / we’d sit back / watch the dog face clouds / all smiles and ears / all smiles / need a little chirpin’ sauce / there’s Hatfield’s mama in her ol’ comfy chair / strumming on her two-and-a-half string banjo / playing thirteen-and-five-eighth’s blues / Hatfield’s a chip off the block / Mama magic, mama magic.”
The hard-hitting introduction of “Little Kin” jettisoned the audience out of their doldrum delirium before teasing Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up”. The biggest bust-outs emerged late in the second set with a double Doors’ pairing of “Peace Frog” into “Blue Sunday”. This Doors combo was performed for the fifth time ever and only the second time in the last quarter-century, not since 10/29/11 (473 shows) per Everyday Companion.
Like Odysseus and his crew in Homer’s Odyssey, the band mistook the island of Aeaea for their home port as Circe transformed the audience into howling animals during “Greta”. A segue into brute.‘s “Blight” was able to reverse the curse as the crew jumped back on board to set sail once more. As is tradition, Dave Schools included geographically-appropriate, political commentary after the second verse: “I’ll be any way I want to be / maybe even gay / but don’t say that shit / not here… AAHHHHH!!!”
To close out the second set, Panic cruised into the safety of St. Augustine’s inner harbor and cracked open one last “Tall Boy” in the process. As the band walked off the stage, those in attendance were left to pick up the pieces of their “fragile, egg-shell minds.”
Returning for the encore, Widespread Panic performed the original “Gradle” before shifting gears to pay respect to their influences and idols. Next, WSP honored Florida-born rocker Tom Petty with “You Wreck Me” before closing out the final night with an exuberant tribute to Col. Bruce Hampton with “I’m So Glad”, originally written by Skip James.
To the utmost surprise of everybody in attendance, WSP came back for a second encore slot as Dave Schools introduced “Ok, just one more story”. This was reminiscent of 2018’s St. Augustine finale, though this time, JoJo got the memo and stuck around for the fan-favorite classic “Blue Indian”. Sunny Ortiz added a tasteful amount of wind chimes and they were off.
It’s said so much it’s almost lost meaning, but this is exactly why you never miss a Sunday Show. You never know what treats the band has in store for the celebratory finale.
Widespread Panic is taking a short hiatus before returning to the Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, NC on May 6th–8th with more shows to follow at the Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, AL on May 27th–29th. For the full tour, click here.
Until next time, enjoy the springtime weather and nature in bloom. Full-show audio is available thanks to the Goodpeople at PanicStream. A collection of fan-shot videos is also available courtesy of Fred Ramadan.
Widespread Panic – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” (Traffic) – 3/27/22
Widespread Panic – “Chilly Water” – 3/27/22
Widespread Panic – “Airplane” – 3/27/22
Widespread Panic – “Tie Your Shoes” – 3/27/22
Widespread Panic – “Peace Frog” (The Doors) > “Blue Sunday” (The Doors) – 3/27/22
Widespread Panic – “I’m So Glad” (Skip James) – 3/27/22
Setlist: Widespread Panic | The St. Augustine Amphitheatre | St. Augustine, FL | 3/27/22
Set One: Wondering, Good People > Dark Bar > Good People, Makes Sense To Me (Bloodkin), Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic), Little Lilly > I’m Not Alone, Sundown Betty, Chilly Water (64 mins)
Set Two: There Is A Time (The Dillards), Airplane > Jam > Tie Your Shoes > Hatfield, Little Kin, Peace Frog (The Doors)  > Blue Sunday (The Doors) , Greta > Blight (brute.) > Tall Boy (80 mins)
Encore One: Gradle, You Wreck Me (Tom Petty), I’m So Glad (Skip James) (17 mins)
Encore Two: Blue Indian (6 mins)
 LTP 10/29/11 (473 shows)
Fool’s Paradise, the fan-favorite destination music festival in historic St. Augustine, FL, will return from a five-year hiatus for its third edition on Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th, 2022 at the spacious St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
In addition to a diverse and exciting artist lineup led by prog-jam vanguard Umphrey’s McGee and Fool’s veterans/Grammy-nominated future-funk heavyweights Lettuce, Fool’s Paradise 2022 will feature surprise sit-ins, artist-led excursions, and more. Other acts set to perform at St. Augustine Amphitheatre for Fool’s Paradise 2022 include raucous party outfit Andy Frasco & The U.N.; Isaiah Sharkey Band, the outfit led by the acclaimed neo-soul guitarist (two sets); soulful acoustic duo Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) and Nick Cassarino (The Nth Power); and more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets and travel packages for Fool’s Paradise 2022 on June 4th and 5th in St. Augustine are available here.