Widespread Panic, the kings of swamp-rock, returned to the oldest city in America on Friday to launch a three-night run—this time, thankfully, outside of the blistering Florida summer months. Maintaining momentum from the recent Vegas run at the St. Augustine opener, Panic dusted off two classic tunes, blazed through some fan-favorites, and dug into a meaty pair of second-set jam sandwiches.
Getting the first show of the weekend underway, Panic walked onstage and John Bell exclaimed, “Nothing like a cool, spring time in Florida!” Panic has only previously played in St. Auggy between the months of August and October, so as anyone who has experienced the pit in early August can attest, this March run was a blessing. Sporting his mandolin, JB voiced the opinions of all when he opened with “Ain’t Life Grand”.
Dave Schools took the helm with his bass-heavy opus, “Stop Go”, before sliding into Willie Dixon’s “Weak Brain, Narrow Mind” as Jimmy Herring cut sizzling riffs into the song’s standard blues structure. To follow, a tribute to Danny Hutchens and Bloodkin (“Can’t Get High”) paved the way for the men of Widespread Panic to explore states of wakefulness with “Dyin’ Man” and Vic Chesnutt‘s “Sleeping Man”.
Winding down the first set, JoJo Hermann introduced Jerry Joseph and Glenn Esparza’s “Climb to Safety” before performing “Glory” for the first time since 2019’s Durham run. Panic then reined in the first set with an extended ride through the cosmos of “Space Wrangler”.
Returning from set break, a rare “Holden Oversoul” sandwiched an even more uncommon cover of James Taylor’s “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo” on a Friday afternoon. Diverging from the typical lyrical symmetry, this marked the first non-Thursday Panic performance of the track in almost a decade.
Widespread Panic – “Knocking ‘Round The Zoo” (James Taylor) – 3/25/22
For the first time since 2020’s Beacon run, Panic delved into “Tortured Artist” off 2003’s Ball to begin a string of consecutive heaters. J.J. Cale’s “Ride Me High” wound down into a serene “Driving Song”. After transitioning into “The Last Straw”, the band took a quick breather before completing the second sandwich of the set steering “All Time Low” into the other half of “Driving Song”.
Without wasting much time, JB grabbed his mandolin once more for another Bloodkin tribute, “End of the Show”. The rendition was pure and honest but not quite factual, as Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” closed out the second set with the force of a javelin strike.
Widespread Panic – “Life During Wartime” (Talking Heads) – 3/25/22
[Video: Fred Ramadan]
Widespread Panic returned for a curtain call with a hard-hitting version of Murray McLauchlan’s “Honky Red” before landing back in their own catalog to finish off the first night in St. Augustine with “Porch Song”.
Panic remains undefeated, and with two more shows on the horizon, St. Augustine is the place to be this weekend. Enjoy the beaches and weather. Saturday’s show looms ever closer…
Setlist [via PanicStream]: Widespread Panic | St. Augustine Amphitheater | St. Augustine, FL | 3/25/22
Set One: Ain’t Life Grand^, Stop Go > Weak Brain, Narrow Mind, Can’t Get High, Dyin’ Man > Sleeping Man, Climb To Safety, Glory, Space Wrangler (57 mins)
Set Two: Holden Oversoul > Knocking ‘Round The Zoo > Holden Oversoul, Tortured Artist > Ride Me High > Driving Song > The Last Straw, All Time Low > Driving Song > End of the Show^, Life During Wartime (Talking Heads) (80 mins)
Encore: Honky Red (Murray McLauchlan), Porch Song (14 mins)
^JB w/ mandolin
– ‘Weak Brain, Narrow Mind’ LTP 1/27/20 Playa (41 shows)
– ‘Glory’ LTP 3/30/19 Durham (77 shows)
– Last Non-Thursday ‘Knocking Round The Zoo’ 4/23/13 Columbia, SC
– ‘Tortured Artist’ LTP 2/29/20 New York (39 shows)
Photos by @playindeadphoto pic.twitter.com/D8LuBntnFB
— Widespread Panic (@WidespreadPanic) March 26, 2022
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.