Widespread Panic | Saint Augustine Amphitheatre 10.05.14


IMG_20141005_213522_438Whoa! Slow down, there, Tex! I know them’s fightin’ words, but let me explain.

I know the original sentiment was THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A GRATEFUL DEAD CONCERT. Whether it first appeared on a bumper sticker or on page two of the eight-page booklet accompanying Europe ’72, nobody seems to know. And I know many fans would like to insert ‘Phish’ or “DMB’ or some other band name in there. I understand all that.

I have this mantra about music being, in the moment, as good as it gets, when it takes you to that magical place where all the synapses are firing happily away. There are a number of bands who have led me on that journey, many recently. And I pretend that I don’t have a favorite. However, Sunday night at the Amphitheatre in Saint Augustine (a wonderful venue), I was reminded once again that:


Because, WOW. Just WOW. Consider the opener, their brilliant cover of the late J.J. Cale’s “Travelin’ Light.” 36 shows, and that was the greatest opener I have ever heard from them. They aren’t called the six-headed monster for nothing, you know.

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!

“Rock,” the second tune, is not one of my favorites, but JoJo Hermann absolutely knocked it out on his piano solo, and then Jimmy Herring was… Jimmy Herring.

In the car on the way to the show, I was trying to sort out my feelings about Houser Panic and Herring Panic. [And I really liked GMac, but I’m not going there.] I realized there is no reason to compare them; they are two different beasts, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE both. If I hadn’t already arrived at that conclusion by showtime, it became immediately evident.

A beautiful “Pilgrims” led into a bouncy, ragtime “Fixin’ to Die” (I never realized that Bukka White wrote it), and JoJo was all over it again. A solid “Makes Sense to Me,” with its tough lyrics and guitar chords gave way to a simply magnificent “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” and JoJo and Jimmy again led the charge. (I have NOT forgotten Mr. Schools!).

“Pickin’” and “Mercy” let everyone catch their collective breath, and then the first of several evil, wicked, mean and nasty segues, with hints at “Have a Cigar,” blasted into set-closer “Conrad the Caterpillar.” Dave Schools had been strong all set, but he really ripped this one wide open.

Because I am obsessed with the topic, I will again wonder out loud why there were so many people standing beyond me in the beer garden section having conversations almost the entire hour+ set. “Makes sense to me” it does not.

Back on stage after the break, JB (John Bell) led the sextet through his tender interpretation of Van’s “And It Stoned Me.” We had no idea he was just setting us up like bowling pins.

Nance, er, I mean, Trucks and Ortiz began the wonderful percussive beginning to Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.” I’ve seen a few and heard more. None of them sounded like this! It was unreal, surreal, something. First, Herring lit into it, and that led to a nasty jam (it will be fascinating to see if the recordings match my memories!) with Herring and Schools going bonkers – I think that’s the technical term. It was mind-blowing.

“St. Ex” offered a welcomed breather, and then “Angels on High” appeared. Well, in my ears. You know. It featured a great short drum segment, then JoJo with his B3, and JB to sing the last stanza; then JB and Herring moved to the side of the stage, and a contagious outbreak of funk escaped. JoJo had been using his Clavinet extensively, but he abused it on this jam, with the drummers and Schools having a romp. That morphed into another very nasty segue that became “Second Skin,” which lolled along at its pace, suddenly to explode into “Stop Breaking Down Blues.”

The lilting “Party at Your Mama’s House” with its pretty melody gave way to one more monstrous avant segue, out of which emerged the perfect party-closer: “Blackout Blues.”

But of course that wasn’t the end of the party. Back on for the encore, they offered a ballad (“May Your Glass Be Filled”) before romping and stomping through “Fairies Wear Boots.” Man, oh, man, oh, man!IMG_20141006_103757_722


That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Great to spend time with Rev. Hugh and his wife. Sorry not to connect with the rest of the SOS/BOS. Blame Rev. Hugh! And Anastasia State Park is wonderful!

[SET 1: Travelin’ Light, Rock, Pilgrims, Fixin’ to Die, Makes Sense to Me, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, Mercy > Jam > Conrad; SET 2: And It Stoned Me, Pusherman, Saint Ex, Angels On High > Jam > Second Skin > Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Party At Your Mama’s House > Jam > Blackout Blues; Encore: May Your Glass Be Filled, Fairies Wear Boots]



'Widespread Panic | Saint Augustine Amphitheatre 10.05.14' has 1 comment

  1. August 19, 2020 @ 8:37 pm Coda: Founding Widespread Panic Drummer Todd Nance • MUSICFESTNEWS

    […] 10.03.14, drummer Duane Trucks was at kit; Nance announced he was dealing with personal matters. (We caught the band 10.05.14 in St. Augustine.) Trucks stayed in the touring band. Nance did perform at 2016 Panic en la Playa, but thereafter the […]


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