What's Robbie Kreiger doing playing golf with John Bell? Well, the former guitarist of the Doors, and John Bell of Widespread Panic are both golfers and it probably served up as a little greet and meet before the jam session that was to take place later that night. There was a buzz heading into the sold out Wiltern Theatre last Thursday as rumors were flying around about a special guest. Sure enough, as you walk into the venue to find your seat, it was clear someone was in the house as there was an extra microphone and
guitar amp setup between JB and Mike Houser. The band opened the first set strong with one of their new intrumentals, "Action Man". "Greta" followed and jammed into "Bear's Gone Fishin". "Aunt Avis", another Vic Chestnut cover, was a nice interlude into the sickness to come. A rockin' version of "Machine" segued into "Barstools and Dreamers". "Radio Child" was an appropriate choice for the LA crowd. A minute went by and JB introduced
Robbie Kreiger as he joined on the stage. "Stop Breaking Down", a
traditional tune covered by the Rolling Stones on Exile on Main Street, served as a blues rocker and a nice ease in for Robbie to start jamming. A version of the Doors song, "Light My Fire", came next and the crowd roared it's approval - JB singing Jim Morrison's lyrics is great stuff - JB pours his soul into it. I was hoping they would leave his equipment on stage for a chance of a second set guest appearance but as intermission went on, they cleared Robbie's stuff of the stage, but the fun wasn't done yet.
"Sometimes", a Firehose cover, started the second set. "Give", a new
Widespread Panic song, followed and was recently called by Jojo his "favorite of the new tunes". "Cream Puff War", "Tallboy", and a huge version of "Walkin'" led into drums. After a percussion solo by Todd and Sunny, the band came back out for a beautiful "Vacation". The first notes of "Stop-Go" sent the crowd into a frenzy and Dave Schools played his heart away through this HOT version. "Love Tractor" with all it's hoots and hollers left the crowd eagerly awaiting some more. The band returned to the stage and played a Tom
Waits cover, "Goin' Out West", an appropriate ending to a sweet night of Panic jams and the special visit from Robbie Kreiger.
Panic Plays Bill Graham Civic in San Francisco
It had been 14 years since the Grateful Dead played in the old San Francisco Civic. The Civic Center has since been renovated and Widespread Panic played their first 2 shows at a new venue for them in the Bay Area. Last July's shows at the Warfield were sold out and hard to find tickets for, but you wouldn't have thought the same about the Civic Center. The setup is much like a big gym with a large clear floor down below and limited seating upstairs. For this weekend, the floor was full, but the seating up top always seemed to be less full. The Dirty Dozen opened both shows and got the crowd going each night, many of whom had just returned from New Orleans.
The first night was highlighted by the somewhat rare "The Last Straw", a jammin' "Tie Your Shoes", "E on a G" - a beautiful new instrumental. The Dirty Dozen joined the band for "Red Hot Mama" and a version of "Arleen" that eventually led to Dave Schools playing with the brass section leading a jam entitled "Bee Hive Jam". It was quite neat to see and hear Dave Schools play right next to a huge low tuba. "Mr. Soul", a Neil Young cover, ended the second set on yet another high note.
The next day I was hoping again for a special guest as I was told again something would happen. The now quite rare "Contentment Blues" opened the first set - I love my chicken! "Genesis", a Jorma Kaukenen/Hot Tuna cover, is always a treat to hear JB sing. The first set closed out wickedly with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band coming out for a DIRTY version of Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman". The crowd pleaser, "Coconuts" was better than usual with the horns blasting away. The second set featured another treat, "Ophelia" by the Band. "Hatfield" was strong, "Surprise Valley" begin and segued in a slow version of the lyrically happy "Porch Song". After drums, and as the band entered back into the jam at the end of "Surprise Valley" my "rock chick" friend reminded me they never finished the last verse ..... until now. Crowd favorites, "Space Wrangler" and "Fishwater" rocked an end to the second set.
For the first encore, the band decided on a pairing of 2 new songs called "Down" and "Imitation Leather Shoes", my two favorites
of the new songs. The band wasn't done yet. After playing a one song encore the first night, the band decided to return to the stage for a second encore.
The Talking Heads' "City of Dreams" has become a Panic cover staple and is always a favorite. 14 years later, many things have changed, but the similar good vibe exists with Widespread Panic as it did with the Grateful Dead.
Panic Tour heads up the West Coast to play in Seattle, Eugene, and Montana for 2 nights this week.
James "Kimo" Ko
Jambase Widespread Panic Correspondent
http://www.widespreadpanic.com - Official Band Site
http://www.diggiddy.com - a Panic Friend-ly Website
11.2.00 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
1: Action Man, Greta, Bear's Gone Fishin', Aunt Avis,
Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Radio Child,
Stop Breaking Down*, Light My Fire*
2: Sometimes, Give, Cream Puff War, Tall Boy, Walkin'
(For Your Love) > Drums > Vacation, Stop-Go, Love Tractor
E: Goin' Out West
* with Robby Krieger (The Doors) on guitar [Only 'Light My Fire']
11.3.00 Bill Graham Civer Center (JB wore overalls!)
Set 1: One Arm Steve > Makes Sense To Me, The Waker >
Tie Your Shoes > Last Straw > E on a G > Papa Legba >
Diner > Climb To Safety
Set 2: Ain't Life Grand > Jam > Pigeons > Thought
Sausage, *Red Hot Mama > *Arlene > Beehive Jam (DAS &
DDBB) > Drums > Drums & Bass > Airplane > Papas Home >
E: Blue Indian
11/4 Bill Graham Civer Center
Set 1: Contentment Blues > Dyin' Man, Wondering >
Genesis! > Henry Parsons Died, This Part Of Town >
Blackout Blues, *Pusherman > *Coconut
Set 2: Flat Foot Flewzy!, Ophelia > Jam > Hatfield >
Short Sunny Drums > Surprise Valley > Jam (JoJo synth
freakout) > Slow Porch > Jam > DAS China Cat teases >
Drums > Drums & Bass > Surprise Valley > Old Joe >
Space Wrangler, **Fishwater
E1: Down > Imitation Leather Shoes
E2: City Of Dreams
*with DDBB; **with Peanut