Press Release From Sanctuary Records

The Athens, GA-based "jam" rock band Widespread Panic and Sanctuary Records, the flagship label of Sanctuary Records Group(a division of U.K. based music & media company Sanctuary Group plc) have entered into an exclusive, worldwide, multi-album recording agreement. Albums produced under this agreement will be released on the Widespread Records / Sanctuary Records logo. This signing continues an aggressive period of acquisition for Sanctuary following just weeks after the announcement of the signing of Megadeth.

Vocalist John Bell announces: "When musicians combine their talents in ways that feed and magnify a creative environment; that's the magic of playing in a band. When you add to the mix a Record label that recognizes its own unique abilities, as well as those of the artists, you get even more creative fuel - that's what Widespread Panic and Sanctuary have in each other - and this particular party is just getting started."

The reputation and community of fans that Widespread Panic have established over the years are the result of two (seemingly) simple things -- high-quality live performances, and, an incredible "connection" with their fans. In this age of prepackaged, manufactured "music" stars, and disposable trend driven artists, it's refreshing to have a band like Widespread Panic out there illustrating just how powerful and thrilling a genuine performance by flesh-and-blood musicians can be, and, how important the relationship between artists and their fans remains.

"Widespread Panic have developed a deep relationship of trust with their audience, which is why they are among the top 50 grossing touring artists in the US. We are confident that we can make them one of the countries top 50 album selling artists as well. We also believe that we can take their success to the world and make them one of the important US artists in the international marketplace", enthuses Merck Mercuriadis, CEO of the Sanctuary Music Group. "We have sold over 70 million records with artists who have developed a unique relationship with their audience that provides the foundation for their success and whose success is enhanced by but not reliant on radio and television."

The unique flavor of Widespread Panic's live events and the opportunity to enhance awareness of this quality around the world, and thereby build upon their consistent and established record selling base, strongly motivated Sanctuary's interest.

"The spirit of celebration that exists at all Widespread Panic live events is magical, and is inspired by the honesty and genuine nature of their music. Globally, as well as domestically in North America, we feel that they have tremendous potential to continue to grow, and we are proud to be the company that will make this happen," said Tom Lipsky, president of the Sanctuary Records Group.

The band has sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone of its impressive catalogue of releases over the past decade. The debut, Space Wrangler, was released on Landslide Records in 1988. Widespread Panic then hooked up with the renowned label Capricorn Records, and their album simply titled Widespread Panic was the band's first Capricorn release in 1991. The next year the label re-released Space Wrangler. Other Capricorn albums included 1991's Everyday, 1994's Ain't Life Grand, 1997's Bombs & Butterflies, 1998's live album Light Fuse, Get Away and 1999's 'Til The Medicine Takes. Vic Chesnutt, a fellow Athens resident, collaborated with Widespread Panic, and this musical union -- under the name Brute -- resulted in the 1996 Capricorn album Nine High A Pallet.

Following it's departure from Capricorn Records, Widespread Panic formed its own label, Widespread Records, and released 2000's Another Joyous Occasion, which features 11 songs recorded on a 1999 summer tour with the New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This summer, talks began between Sanctuary Records and the band and management, which ultimately resulted in the decision for Sanctuary to become the home for the next phase of the band's career.

Widespread Panic manager Buck Williams (of Progressive Global Agency) remarks on the venture: "I think Widespread Panic and Sanctuary Records offer each other a rare opportunity to explore and develop alternative methods of selling records and create artist awareness worldwide. Sanctuary understands the special relationship between the band and its fans as well as the band's unique position in the industry. Their obvious enthusiasm gives us confidence that they get it. We are extremely excited about the prospects that lie ahead."

"I'm very excited about the possibilities, both in the US and Europe, that can be achieved through our relationship with Tom Lipsky, Merck Mercuriadis, and the people of Sanctuary," expresses co-manager Sam Lanier (of Brown Cat, Inc.).

The strength of Widespread Panic's live performances has generated a notable list of famous fans who like to sit in with the band regularly, including jazz saxphonist Branford Marsalis and keyboardist Chuck Leavell (a member of the Allman Brothers Band and Sea Level who has also toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.)

Widespread Panic returns to the studio to complete their initial Sanctuary album early in January 2001, with worldwide release and subsequent global touring to follow later in the year.

[Published on: 12/18/00]

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