John "JoJo" Hermann's side project, Smiling Assassin, blew up Ziggy's Friday night and made the entire crowd lose their feet. The night started off nicely for two fans: me and Eric "Sweet" Leaf of Guilford College, as JoJo gave us one hell of an interview and showed us just how laid back this wild rocker can be.

On-stage, JoJo was the total opposite of the relaxed interviewee, wailing on Smiling Assassin songs "Don't Look Down", "Abeline" and "Mountain Hideaway". Luther Dickinson was just as spectacular, sliding up and down solos on his guitar and singing covers of "Shake Your Money Maker", "Are You Ready for the Country" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight". All of these tunes really got the crowd going.

Paul Wine Jones, the opener, got things off to a hot start off with his raspy vocals on an R.L. Burnside song. Jojo played a tune that was sent to him from Bloodkin's Danny Hutchins, and it sounded great. Luther busted out another Dylan cover, "Rainy Day Women", to close out the second set. Then, just in time, JoJo took us home with "Nobody's Loss" on his guitar and "Blackout Blues" on the keys, which had a great shout out to Winston-Salem and a night back in 1992, when JoJo first joined Widespread Panic

I can't wait to see what is forthcoming for this band; maybe another tour early next fall? If it's in the South, I will be there. And if it's somewhere in your area, you should check it out.

P.S. to Jojo: I told Derek "hello."

Cameron Hunter and Eric Leaf
Jambase South
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Read the interview with JoJo!

[Published on: 3/1/02]

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