Ever since a friend at a CD store handed me a copy of Everyday in 1993, I have been a Widespread Panic fan. Through 39 shows and 23 years, I have put this band at the top of my list of favorites. And one of the many reasons I have loved Panic was its engine, drummer Todd Nance. There are better drummers than Nance, I opined, but few who do for their respective bands what Todd did for Panic.
I was disappointed to discover, before the band’s performance in October of 2014 at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, that Nance had gone on hiatus. Filling in on drums was Duane Trucks, already a band member with Dave Schools in Hard Working Americans. Schools plays bass for Widespread Panic. The St. Augustine show was the third date on the fall tour.
Whatever opinion or disappointment I had evaporated immediately when the show started. At the time, I wrote:
And about those six heads. I was at the back of the 200 section, great view of everything on stage but not close. Sound perfect. No binoculars, and things were a bit fuzzy besides. I thought drummer Todd Nance looked, well, odd, but I couldn’t really tell. But he sounded so great – I key on him more than anyone – that it didn’t matter. He and Sunny tore it up the entire show, perfectly simpatico.
And I had seen a post before the show saying how awesome Duane Trucks was. Whaaaa? Duane plays with WSP bassist Dave Schools in Hard-Working Americans and has played with the ‘granddaddy of us all,’ Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.). So why were they talking about him?
Maybe with binoculars or rushing down to the pit or something I might have figured it out. My ears sure didn’t. Duane is covering for Nance (out attending to ‘personal issues’) the entire tour. At the tour opener in Charleston, the band played only songs which debuted on or before 1996, as Trucks eases into the role.
It didn’t take him long. He was killing it all night long!
It was so impressive. Duane instantly became a part of the six-headed monster. He played that tour, the New Year’s 2014 run, and all of 2015.
Duane comes from one of America’s premier musical families. His brother is Derek Trucks, and his uncle is Butch Trucks, both of whom played with the Allman Brothers Band in addition to their own bands (Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Butch and the Freight Train Band).
At the Wanee Festival in April, I wrote:
One other piece of business to address. Over the years, I have been a very vocal supporter of Todd Nance as the perfect drummer for WSMFP (as they are affectionately known). And I miss him and his style and what he adds to the band. That having been said, DUANE TRUCKS. Because WOW. He is simply superb, the engine behind the jam. (Friday night)
Duane Trucks had another amazing night with Sunny Ortiz and all of his percussion toys. (Saturday night)
Street Dogs, the album released in 2015, was the band’s first in five years — and the first without Nance. It featured, instead, his temporary replacement, Duane.
It was anticipated that Nance would return for 2016.
And he did. Briefly. Nance was at the kit for Panic en la Playa Cinco, the four-day fest in Mexico February 2-5. So it seemed as if things were back to the origins of Panic; Nance was a member for the very first Panic show on February 6, 1986.
The return was short-lived. As the current tour started Tuesday, February 9, it was Duane with the band at the Classic Center in Athens GA. The official announcement was: “Duane will be the drummer for Widespread Panic moving forward. Todd will not be on stage this evening.” Tuesday’s show, in fact, marked the 30th anniversary of this great band.
I will be sorry not to see Todd, but Widespread Panic is in great hands with Duane Trucks at the drum kit.