Returning from an all-nighter full of juggling dynamite sticks, moonshine, and gold mining, Widespread Panic sauntered back onstage in Telluride, CO on Saturday for one extended festival set that had a little sumpin’ for everybody. The nearly-full moon was breaking over one of the many ridges of the Rocky Mountains just as the band resumed their positions onstage to complete their two-night run at The RIDE Festival.
[Photo : EJ Wasik via PanicStream]
Getting right down to it, Widespread cooked up a salacious “Ribs N Whiskey”, Dave Schools and JoJo Hermann slathering the jam with tasty grooves and piano flourishes. John Bell utilized his slide guitar skills while belting out his “seen your sister naked” lyrics like an old hound dog. Next, the band divulged another sweet treat with a solid rendition of “Sundown Betty”, which debuted at the incredible last night of Panic En La Playa Siete in January of 2018. The song possessed a haunted, ethereal feel, like watching skeletons ballroom dancing in ancient wedding attire to Jimmy Herring’s lightning guitar solos.
Back-to-back cuts from Panic’s debut album, Space Wrangler, followed as “Holden Oversoul” and “Stop-Go” wafted out of the speakers to the boot-stompin’ appreciation of the audience. “Holden” blew in like a cool breeze on a hot day, building momentum as Herring took control of the ship. Schools kept the fury in pace and tone, hammering out a momentous “Stop-Go” that blew over the Rocky Mountains like an impossibly routed hurricane. John Bell included a rare “That Don’t Make It Junk” rap before Jimmy Herring ended the jam with a maelstrom of musical madness.
The lengthy, instrumental “Party At Your Mama’s House” emerged from there, its swaying rhythm ramping up to scorching levels of energy as the entire band stepped up to knock this one out of the park. Soon, the tune was stripped down until only JoJo’s piano remained, meandering enticingly until Billy Joe Shaver’s “Chunk of Coal” materialized with JoJo’s on vocals and Schools as the lead excavator.
Schools continued to unearth buried riches with a pulsating, 17-minute take on “Second Skin” from the highly underrated 2006 album, Earth to America. The tune, which was co-written by Jerry Joseph, enticed the audience like the enchanted pull of a siren’s song just before the music rolled over the ship of consciousness like a tidal wave and the helm was crushed by the jagged rocks underneath the surface.
When the dust finally settled, the historical mountain town remained unscathed—for now—as a high-octane cover of ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” followed with its heavy blues-infused pulse. JoJo took the reins mid-song, and it seemed he would never give them back as he danced up and down his piano. However, Herring eventually took over to complete the natural progression of each band member getting a chance to rip their own section on a given song.
Widespread Panic – The RIDE Festival – “Jesus Just Left Chicago” [ZZ Top cover]
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
After a cymbal-crashing conclusion, another heater ensued as a raucous “Little Kin” created new fault lines underneath the Rocky Mountain granite. The intensity showed no signs of relenting as a fast-paced gallop around Saratoga Race Course with “Action Man” preceded a return trip to New Orleans for a saucy pot of mama’s gumbo with a sensational “Thought Sausage” (“COME N’ GIT IT!”).
Widespread Panic – The RIDE Festival – “Action Man”
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Remaining in New Orleans territory, Widespread Panic performed “Gradle” for only the second time this year, allowing the band a chance to “give it all before we go.” “L.A.”, an old instrumental song that has been around since the band’s fledgling years, emerged next for the second time since 2012 and first time since appearing in Alpharetta, Georgia in September of 2016. Old-timers may remember this song as part of The Weather Channel’s February 2001 playlist for the Local Weather (Don’t believe me? See here).
Duane Trucks led the rolling drumline to “Diner” to start what would become an epic sequence of beloved tunes to finish out the festival set. “Diner” gave the wandering vagrants of the mountain’s night, shivering and hungry, a sanctuary to refuel and warm up in JB’s wholesome light. His rap was slightly out of the ordinary with a “Light shinin’ through the peephole” introduction and various different improvisations like “Just a bad joke, from a long time ago.”
Jimmy Herring blazed a hole through the setlist before JoJo Hermann picked up the rhythm to Bill Withers‘ “Use Me”. Soon, a veracious Schools and gritty JB joined in to complete the tune about the honest acceptance and pleasure of being taken advantage of (“I want to spread the news / That if it feels this good getting used / You just keep on using me / Until you use me up!).
Widespread Panic – The RIDE Festival – “Diner”/”Use Me” [Bill Withers cover]
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
After crushing the hot take on the Withers tune, JB stepped to the mic to voice his heartfelt appreciation with “Just to put it in words, we are very happy to be here” before returning to Earth to America for a sweet rendition of “May Your Glass Be Filled”. Even though this song was played on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta and St. Panic’s Day in D.C., the audience embraced the musical blessing as if it was the first time played. Jimmy stretched out those long, sorrowful notes while JB consecrated the festival grounds with his holy appeal to laughter, health, luck, and a glass ever-filled to the brim.
To end the second and final night of their headlining stint at The RIDE Festival, Widespread Panic played “I’m So Glad” for only the seventh time ever. The Skip James song has been revived in recent years as a tribute to Col. Bruce Hampton who, like Cream, had made the tune a staple in his repertoire. Jimmy Herring, a past bandmate of the Colonel’s, hypnotized throughout the familiar jam while John Bell captured the tone and vocal delivery, giving the song a Colonel-esque authenticity. (For more information on Colonel Bruce Hampton’s impact on the band, see H.O.R.D.E. Tour and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. His roots run deep as a cosmic mentor and spiritual advisor).
Widespread Panic – The RIDE Festival – “I’m So Glad” [Skip James cover, Tribute to Col. Bruce Hampton]
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
The next stop for Widespread Panic is the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, FL. They will be playing at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre for three nights from August 2nd–4th in what will sure to be a (literally) hellishly hot time. For a full list of upcoming Widespread Panic tour dates, see here.
That’s all for now. Hope the afterglow of this Rocky Mountain High leads your weary feet to the sun-kissed sands of St. Augustine. See you there, Goodpeople.
As always, you can stream a full audio recording of the performance via PanicStream.
Setlist: Widespread Panic | The RIDE Festival | Telluride, CO | 7/13/19
Set: Ribs & Whiskey, Sundown Betty, Holden Oversoul, Stop-Go* > Party At Your Mama’s House, Chunk of Coal, Second Skin, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Little Kin, Action Man, Thought Sausage, Gradle, L.A. > Diner > Use Me, May Your Glass Be Filled, I’m So Glad (136 mins)
Notes * w/ ‘That Don’t Make It Junk’ rap
– ‘L.A.’ LTP 9/16/16 Alpharetta (106 shows)
(Thank you Curtis George and Coloartist, Panicstream.com, and Everydaycompanion.com)