WSP | 07.26.08 | North Carolina

Words & Images by: John Zara

Widespread Panic :: 07.26.08 :: Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre :: Charlotte, NC

Jimmy Herring - WSP :: 07.26 :: Charlotte, NC
Just under two years ago, I got a text message from a good friend telling me that Widespread Panic had gotten Jimmy Herring to take the reins on lead guitar. Fans everywhere rejoiced. Word spread like wildfire that Herring had joined the band. Since then, Panic has rolled full steam ahead without missing a beat.

A new era of Widespread Panic is clearly upon us. But as we all know, this isn't the first time that Herring has been called on to fill legendary shoes. He's proved his worth playing with the Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends and The Other Ones/The Dead. By no means has Widespread Panic replaced that lingering lead we won't forget, but they've grown into something totally new.

Their summer tour demonstrated that Panic has evolved into one hell of a beast. Herring has found a way to weave his accuracy and lightening-fast speed with the band's raw energy. After a slew of killer festival appearances (Rothbury, All Good and Bonnaroo), Panic was sure to bring the fire for the tour closer in Charlotte. As always, they did not disappoint.

Cheers erupted from one patch of fans that triggered another and another. Before I could look up, most of the audience had raised their $11 beers and flask-made bourbon drinks, greeting Panic as they took stage. Right out of the gate, keyboardist JoJo Hermann graced the crowd with his vocals on what would be a fairly standard "Blackout Blues." Nonetheless, the party had started.

Dave Schools :: 07.26
After that warm-up, "Walkin'" set up a sing-a-long "And It Stoned Me," where Herring showed his ability to slow it down a bit, a touch more graceful than usual. This was the calm before the storm. The storm's name was "Wonderin'" > "Rock." This was the first moment in the show where Herring's fingers ripped loose on the fretboard. About three-quarters through "Wonderin'," Dave Schools brought his thunderous thumping bass into perfect harmony with Herring. "Rock" was the ideal song for John Bell's trademark raspy vocals. The slide guitar and JB's voice made this tune reminiscent of the Tom Waits classic "Goin' Out West."

Next up was a mellow and laid back "Pickin' Up The Pieces," which gave everyone in the crowd a moment to settle. "Holden Oversoul" > "Henry Parsons Died" > "Action Man" was a tasty treat just before set break. "Holden" achieved new heights. Just when I thought the band was about to kick back to the intro riff, Herring continued on a tear. Finally coming back to Earth, JoJo took over with some funky ivory moves that only made way for another Herring wailing. That segued straight into Schools dropping the booming chords of the Bloodkin tune, "Henry Parsons Died." Herring took this one to a climax after about four to five minutes of a mind-boggling number of notes. Moving quickly into "Action Man," Herring still hadn't let up, but JoJo one-upped him with a throwdown, as his fingers walked all over the keys.

"Let's hear it for Mr. DJ Logic, keeping you guys lubricated. We love him," exclaimed Schools after the set break. Logic stayed onstage as Panic started the second set. On deck was Jerry Joseph's "Chainsaw City." Panic gave DJ Logic his fair share of time on this one, and he held his own with a solid solo mid-song.

"All Time Low" set up the ass kicking to follow: "Life During Wartime" > "Chilly Water," "Machine" > "Barstools and Dreamers," "Fishwater" > "Drums" > "Fishwater," "Surprise Valley" > "Tallboy."

The Panic Faithful :: 07.26
I was lucky enough to see the first show that Panic covered "Life During Wartime." At that point, George McConnell was on lead guitar, and since then the boys have really polished it up. "This ain't no party," they said, but it sure felt like one. At this point, all six members were in sync as the air filled with electricity. I thought Schools might blow his amp when the first notes of "Chilly Water" dropped. The crowd went nuts for this heavily anticipated song.

Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz went off on a nice conga/hand percussion solo that eventually eased to Herring. JB let out a soulful scream that could have raised the dead. Schools joined on the harmony vocals, as Herring crept the guitar rhythm, just waiting to jump in.

Right on time was "Machine" > "Barstools," where Schools managed to make the low end rattle my chest. Herring stayed in bounds for the first few minutes while drummer Todd Nance held down a rock-solid beat as the band crawled into "Barstools." A beautiful segue as the tempo began to rise, Herring made his guitar wail and cry as JB made a haunting sound emerge from nowhere. This went on for a solid 14-minutes (including a soulful "Satisfied" rap), showing these guys can still jam like nobody's business.

I had to sit down to gather myself at this point. As soon as I heard the funky "Fishwater," I shot up like a rocket, ready to get down and dirty again. "Four train days/ Get me back to New Orleans." Halloween anybody? Schools absolutely beat the hell out of his bass for the song's entirety.

John Bell :: 07.26
The "Drums" portion of the evening came with some help from DJ Logic and Hunter Williams. This is usually my cue to hit the restrooms, but the scratching was infectious, so I endured. JoJo was the first to crawl back onstage, then Schools joined him, bringing the bass back for "Fishwater." Like they never left, everyone was back on beat. "More fishwater! Mo, Mo, Mo, Mo."

Like fresh air, "Surprise Valley" came blowing in. Todd and Sunny started it off and Herring slowly swept in. It did not take long for Schools to join him. JB's voice rang out, "Oh, kiss the mountain air we breathe." By the seven-minute mark, this song was on Interstate 77 headed straight for Jam Town. Mid-song, Herring had an ace up his sleeve with the jam he belted out, which sounded eerily like a riff from "Layla." Then, the boys began to wind down and head into "Tallboy." I didn't really care much for this tune, but Panic had me in its hold. I weathered about two minutes before trying to beat everyone to the bathroom.

After about five minutes of overhearing everyone chatter about what was to come, Panic came back for a three-song encore. Todd brought the beat as JoJo laid down the funky notes of "Superstition." They had not played this Stevie Wonder jam in over a year, and the crowd was into it, moving like the ocean. The segue into "Dream Song" was like a huge fluffy cloud lifting us off to dreamland. The nuances of this song were just amazing. JoJo's B3 sang with JB's voice, both echoing through the amphitheatre. Schools slowly jumped from note to note. Soon the crowd was swaying to Herring and JB's haunting guitar work. Ending the night with "Ain't Life Grand," the boys played this one by the book. The last line summed up the evening, the tour, the band and the fans: "And in my mind I was a child/ And it felt good!"

As I headed to the parking lot, I tried to take it all in. Widespread Panic wasn't just taking a step towards a new and exciting era, but a gigantic leap. Herring has come into his own with the rest of the beast that is Widespread Panic. What at times seems like slight of hand is Herring's technical ability to flash flood your eardrums with everything from jazz to Southern blues. If you missed any of the past summer tour, do yourself a favor and mark your calendars. Fall tour is just around the corner.

07.26.08 :: Charlotte, NC
Set One: Blackout Blues, Walkin' (For Your Love), And It Stoned Me > Wondering > Rock, Pickin' Up The Pieces, Holden Oversoul > Henry Parsons Died > Action Man
Set Two: Chainsaw City*, All Time Low, Life During Wartime > Chilly Water, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Fishwater > Drums*# > Fishwater*#, Surprise Valley > Tall Boy
Encore: Superstition, Dream Song, Ain't Life Grand

* w/DJ Logic
# w/ Hunter Williams

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[Published on: 8/5/08]

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iwantstogetfunkedup starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 03:13PM
+8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This is super nitpicky but what about Jimmy Herring proving his worth on guitar with Aquarium Rescue Unit, his best band ever!! I know this is a WSP review but Jimmy is mentioned so heavily that I have to give it up for the almighty ARU which was somehow forgotten. Otherwise good review...

gregboyer starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 03:19PM
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Sounds great. Hope the fall tour comes to OHighO.

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 03:21PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Panic just rawks, and that's all there is to it.

O1Roggae Tue 8/5/2008 03:33PM
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WSP brings da heat. I wanna go to the Nawlins show so bad but I can't afford that shit.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 04:04PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

First off, excellent review. And certainly, ARU and Col. Hampton deserve mention. I go that far back with Jimmy and with Panic. Been seein' em both since ARU was opening shows for Panic. So here's my pennies worth .... I've seen Jimmy with Panic 3 or 4 times now. And he's def way more fluid that George could have ever dreamed of being. I remember saying so just after seeing him, in what I think was his fourth show with the band with keene still sitting in. But I also remember thinking, that the band sounded so heavy and electric. And I wanted some old school Panic. Since then, I have seen Panic a few more times, and I do think they've come together better. Jimmy does sound good with them. And I do like that they are playing some older songs. Way to go guys. But let me end simply by saying this ..... I miss Mikey. No one will ever sound like Mikey did, I know that, and I don't want Jimmy to try to emulate his sound. But I miss Mikey and the way he could coax sounds from an acoustic guitar like no one else ever could or ever will. I love Panic. I love Herring with Panic. I am a fan for life. Thank you Panic for all the years of great music, and for keeping on keeping on. I'll see ya again somewhere down the road fellas. Peace.

wma starstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 07:48PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I tell you what, I've been listening to Panic since I was 16 yrs old. Growin' up in Georgia, as all of you know, is somewhat of a musical, religious, almost cathartic experience because the music there is so rich and diverse. I lived in Athens for a spell and it was awesome. All the different artists and genres make you believe that music really is that important and that meaningful to all of us in this improvisational community. Widespread Panic has been an anchor in my life for so long that even when both guitarists stepped up to the plate after Mikey's passing the curve balls that were thrown in the bands direction NEVER for once stopped them from continuing the wishes that Mikey had asked them to do. That of course was to continue the journey and keep them still ridin' high on that great "Universal Note" in the sky! "Greta" respect for Jimmy Herring and the band for leaving so many people wantin' more and great article by the writer to point out it's o.k!!! Jimmy's got it covered!

cuttyfives Tue 8/5/2008 08:09PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I like panic, but i would love to hear them with DJ Logic. Thats sounds pretty cool.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 04:40AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

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sickness>>>>>>>>>>Chainsaw City*, All Time Low, Life During Wartime > Chilly Water, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Fishwater > Drums*# > Fishwater*#, Surprise Valley > Tall Boy

King Rhino starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 05:58AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Dear JB .... PLEASE grow the beard back ...

jtcincy starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 07:00AM
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Is it me or does JB look like Ben Franklin or someone out of the 1700's? Bring the beard back JB is yeah, killer second set.

crazynate starstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 07:18AM
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The boys just had one hell of a Summer Tour! I saw the Red Rocks shows and they were fucking awsome! This looks like a great tour closer show! Thanks for the review Jambase!

Broesau starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 07:44AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice one, show looked hot, but this line made me cringe: "...this song was on Interstate 77 headed straight for Jam Town." Really, man?

nsafay Wed 8/6/2008 07:49AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Man.....I was at this show and holy freakin smokes it was hot! Logic sounded so smooth on Chainsaw City. JoJo's intro to Life During Wartime got me going crazy. Then, that awesome old school segue Chilly, Machine>Barstools with the Satisfied rap! Schools did that nasty whamp a damp on the bass before Sunny did a two minute spanish drum intro to Fishwater and then the drums>Fishwater Reprise with Logic and Hunter Williams was an all out dance freakout with great lights that lasted a good twenty minutes. I have seen Logic and other DJ's with Panic a bunch of times, but this was by far the most creative and intense I have ever seen them get. Then, you can never go wrong with a Surprise>Tallboy to close the set out. Superstition was immensly clear. I haven't gotten a Dream Song since they closed the encore the first night of the three night run Oak Mountain 2001 when the folks in the parking lot let the fireworks off behind the stage when JB hit his high note. That was awesome and so was this one. Thank you so much to WSP, Dj Logic, my friends and all the other fans at the show for making that on hell of a Saturday night!

beadiamondsomday starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 09:36AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


BEST DJ SIT IN EVER, seriously, maybe the best drums ive seen

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 10:49AM
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Sounds like a great show! See you in Milwaukee.

My personal favorite DJ Sit in: 06/22/02 Bonnaroo, Drums / with DJ Logic on turntables, Leon Mobley on djembe

gmoo Wed 8/6/2008 12:54PM
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Wow that second set looks nuts.

mccjeff starstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 04:49PM
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Smoking hot show. Great review. Thanks.

Armedaneian starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/6/2008 05:13PM
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Nice Review... I wish I was there!

WidespreadPhanic Wed 8/6/2008 05:17PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


what WMA said..........atlanta / athens such a good music scene.......didn't realize it until i went to school in boston for awhile and found out that it takes more work to find good music than just putting yourself in a big what a god awful music scene.....

widespread / allmans / sts9 > dropkicks

oboyler Wed 8/6/2008 06:50PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I hadn't heard one wsp song before i saw them for the first time at rothbury. It must have been the greatest first impression ever. They blew my mind. Its unbelievable how much herring just rips. They definitely made me a big fan. I cant wait to see'em again. Please come up to the northeast sometime this fall boys.

salsalasa Wed 8/6/2008 06:54PM
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mo, mo, mo,,,come on nawlins!!!!!!!!!!!!

hisla starstar Thu 8/7/2008 07:08AM
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First off, yes this was a sick show. Second, I think this review could have used a little variation on the descriptions. No offense John, but "on interstate 77 heading straight for Jam Town" tipped the cliche meter to its max.

acomma Thu 8/7/2008 01:47PM
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^^ agreed. A good attempt at a review, though. Keep writing dude. The more you write, the better writer you will become.

fishbone1 starstar Thu 8/7/2008 06:06PM
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gotta love that pesky cliche meter!

acomma Thu 8/7/2008 10:10PM
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Phanic, nothing is worse than the cultural wasteland known as Toledo, OH.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/12/2008 04:31AM
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I agree grow the beard back!!! JB!!!!

donk starstarstarstar Thu 8/14/2008 08:23PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Coconut Phil starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/23/2008 04:39PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Coconut Phil

I was in section 5 for this show, was blown away, the 2nd set was the best WP I have seen yet, the Fishwater>JamFishwater blew my shit away, the light show was on too man, really solid jam. Already looking forward to Charleston.