On Sunday, Trondossa Music & Arts Festival’s festivities returned for a second glorious day in the sun with a line-up that included Rainbow Kitten Surprise, another night of Umphrey’s McGee, The Reckoning, and more ahead of host band Widespread Panic‘s two-set headlining performance.
Panic’s second night at the festival was filled sexy funk soaked in muddy river water and sunshine. To introduce the first set, Widespread Panic offered up the instrumental diddle “A of D” before strolling through a serene version of “Wondering”. Next, JoJo Hermann led the band through a humorous retelling of his first gig with the band in “One Armed Steve.”
The bouncing bass line of “Old Neighborhood” emerged to take the audience down a memory lane. A deep “Space Wrangler” cantered onstage before Dave Schools introduced the bass-heavy riff of “Bear’s Gone Fishin’”, a whacky tune written about the longtime friend of the band, Bear, and the band’s attempt to watch a groupie and him through a keyhole.
Rounding out the first set, Dave Schools led the troupe through a cover of Vic Chestnutt’s “Blight” before introducing Joel Cummins onstage to lend a hand on keys for a smokin’ “Red Hot Mama”. Some Joel’s fellow Umphrey’s McGee members have participated in the P-Funk tune in Charleston in the past, so it was no surprise when Joel walked the familiar grounds of the song as John Bell executed his sly vocals with the fire of a bourbon shot.
Upon return from a short set break, Widespread Panic opened their final set of the weekend with another instrumental, “B of D”, before nailing a rendition of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul”. The goods came in nonstop exciting fashion as “Driving Song” sandwiched “Cease Fire” and a tasty “Run Like Hell” jam. The percussion section, Duane Trucks and Sonny Ortiz, kicked the “Cease Fire” into high gear before Dave Schools and Jimmy Herring annihilated a transitional jam that eventually returned to the second half of “Driving Song”.
Next, Widespread Panic introduced talented young guitarist Marcus King to the stage to assist in the performance of David Bromberg’s carnival ride, “Sharon”. JB gave credit to the uproarious fans by acknowledging “The same rowdy crowd that was here last night is back again!” Jimmy and Marcus traded guitar licks in a blistering standoff reminiscent of a western high-noon showdown.
To add to the fire, Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” followed in raucous pursuit to keep the circus a-dancing. Marcus King had shared the stage numerous times with Widespread Panic, notably at Wanee Festival and Panic En La Playa. His appearance was welcomed with hoots and hollers from the crowd, and he repaid that respect with the highlight of the night.
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The percussionists continued to abuse their kits before the band returned from the spiritual realms to perform “Saint Ex”. The song’s build-up and breakdown of tempo and intensity was inspired by the incredible story of a German pilot shooting down his favorite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry—of The Little Prince fame—in World War II.
Embracing the roots of the festival, John Bell channeled Col. Bruce Hampton’s spirit for a roguish rendition of “Trondossa.” As Bell told Garden & Gun last year, “The name [of the festival] is derived from a song that we were introduced to by Colonel Bruce Hampton. As much as I can interpret it from that song, Trondossa means a longing to do the right thing in a romantic sense. JoJo, our keyboard lyricist, first identified it as a great name, and it stuck.”
John Bell sang like he was selling snake oil, his sultry voice well-polished from his life on the road. While Schools and Bell crooned and seduced, Jimmy Herring chose to annihilate the confounded minds of the audience with overwhelming force.
To end the festival, Widespread Panic foreshadowed their next location with “Fishwater”, a swampy train ride to the bayous of Louisiana. It was a particularly bawdy take on a beloved classic, as everybody in the band stepped up to hammer this festival home in hazy musical intoxication. Once more, fireworks exploded above the stage as Widespread Panic—and A.S.L. interpreter Edie Jackson—dismounted from their respective positions of power.
Trondossa offered spiritual rejuvenation through soul food and music in South Carolinian sunshine. The cosmic spirit of Col. Bruce was omnipresent as bands and participants paid tribute to the man for his far-reaching influence.
Widespread Panic continues their wanton rampage in New Orleans in their traditional “second Thursday” slot on May 2nd, subbing in after The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac were both booked and forced to cancel in succession.
Until next time, Goodpeople. The name stands for a reason. Keep honoring it and take care of your brothers and sisters. As they say, “two shorten the road,” and y’all make the burdens that much easier to carry. Safe travels to Jazz Fest!
Check out a selection of videos from the performance below:
Widespread Panic w/ Marcus King – “Sharon” – 4/28/19
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Widespread Panic w/ Marcus King – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” – 4/28/19
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Widespread Panic – “Trondossa” – 4/28/19
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
For a full list of Widespread Panic’s upcoming tour dates, head here.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | Trondossa Music & Arts Festival | North Charleston, SC | 4/28/19
Set One: A of D, Wondering, One Arm Steve, Old Neighborhood, Space Wrangler, Bear’s Gone Fishin’, Blight, Red Hot Mama* (60 mins)
Set Two: B of D, Mr. Soul, Driving Song > Cease Fire > Run Like Hell jam > Driving Song, Sharon**, Dear Mr. Fantasy**, Drums > Saint Ex > Trondossa, Fishwater (85 mins)
Notes: * w/ Joel Cummins on keys (Umphrey’s McGee); ** w/ Marcus King on guitar and vocals (MKB)
[‘Fishwater’ closed with fireworks over stage; Entire show with Edie Jackson, ASL interpreter]