I worked with Led Zeppelin years ago, and I just felt a little bit of a similar vibe and energy with these guys. They all have a similar mix of individual skill and power that Zeppelin had when I worked with them.

-Terry Manning on working with Widespread Panic

Photo by Lynn Goldsmith

AT: When did you first become aware of Widespread Panic?

Widespread Panic
Terry Manning: That's hard to say, the very first minute, you know. You see the name places, and then you start wondering about bands. Doing what I do, I don't really listen to lots of outside music. It's stupid in a way, I guess, 'cause when you're making music, I guess you outta know what everyone else is making. You like the classic things, you like the things you grew up with, you like your friends' music, and you like the stuff you're working on, and you hear a few things here and there. But you're into the Beatles, AC/DC, or Led Zeppelin or whatever it might be. I don't just buy and listen to the latest stuff every day. It has to make a path to me for me to hear it sometimes.

I guess the first close association I had with the band besides hearing their name and liking a few songs was when Dave Schools came down to do an album during their hiatus. Not wanting to do anything else, Dave stayed in music during his time off... which I guess is what everyone really does in the music business. He took time off from playing in a band and started another band. (Laughs) That was Stockholm Syndrome. I just fell in love with Dave right from the start. He's such a wonderful person, an amazing musician, great intellect... just a good person to know. I meet lots of people, but it's rare that I meet such a special person like Dave.

I really got into listening to Widespread Panic intently after meeting him, which was a little over two years ago now. I've listened to two or three of the albums. Turned out my son, Lucas, who is 15 years old, already had some of their music on his iPod, so he let me check it out. So there was already a fan in the family.

JB recording on Robert Johnson's Dobro
Compass Point by Terry Manning
The thing I found out about these guys was that you have a preconceived notion of a band based on a few terms that get thrown around always. It reminded me of when people talked about AC/DC many years ago. It was the same thing – I was focused intently, my microscope up and my blinders on, on doing what I was doing – and I'd hear about AC/DC and the only thing I ever remembered was 'heavy metal band.' And it turned me off, 'cause I'd heard 'em, some were ok, but I didn't have time for another heavy metal band. A bit later, when I actually listened to some, I was like, 'This isn't heavy metal. This is Little Richard meets blues meets rock.' It blew me away.

So finding Widespread Panic was kind of like that. I had a preconceived notion in my head that wasn't bad, but it was 'jamband.' That's not a bad thing at all, but still it wasn't everything that I now know about the band and have discovered about the band. When I started looking at them more intently, it was the same thing – 'This is much more than just a jamband. This is blues, it's rock, it's country. It's all kinds of influences, and everyone in this band is powerful and brings something unique to the sound. Everyone makes their own statement. That really got me interested in them, so I started listening deeper and deeper into the music. When we started talking about working together, it really got me excited about it. As good as all the music I'd heard was, I thought there was even more that could be done and I wanted to be a part of that.

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