Words by Michael Kaiz :: Images by Tobin Voggesser

Widespread Panic :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: Morrison, CO

WSP :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is one of those venues that every band wants to play. It's a place where the echoes of the past influence the music we listen to today. Aside from one show in Kansas City, the venue found just west of Denver, CO would host the start of Widespread Panic's summer tour.

The June 24th concert was to be broadcast across the nation on Sirius Satellite Radio's Jam On station. Combine this with the fact that the band's rabid fanbase anticipate Panic at Red Rocks on a Saturday night with a particularly high level of reverence, and the stage was set for an epic show.

John Keane - WSP
06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
The tour takes place on the heels of the band's seventh studio release, Earth to America, which is the first album that did not feature John Keane as the producer. At Red Rocks we began to learn the reason why. While Keane has always been known to join the band on stage during their shows, his sit-ins would usually be limited to two or three songs. Over the course of this weekend, John Keane would barely miss a song.

I personally believe Keane is in the process of becoming an official member of Widespread Panic. If this were the case, it would make sense to find a new producer who can give an "outside of the band" perspective in the studio. Whether or not this is the case, Keane's persistent presence on the stage has a strong effect on the sound of the band.

The most obvious change is that Widespread Panic is now playing with three guitarists. Being able to play a concert with three guitarists and not muddle the sound is a difficult feat. Keane's experience with the band in the studio makes him the perfect addition; he already knows how the band writes and plays their songs. He has versatility as the third guitarist, either standing to play his brown sunburst Telecaster or taking a seat at his blue pedal steel guitar. This allows Panic to choose how much the guitar leads should blend or contrast on a given song.

McConnell & Hermann - WSP :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
There is a certain precision that is brought to the stage with the addition of the band's long time producer to the line up, and Red Rocks was the perfect place to experiment with the new possibilities. The amphitheater is a naturally occurring rock structure that provides almost studio like reinforcement in an outdoor setting. Only the dull thud of the bass can be felt outside of a concert, and I'm told that an acoustic performance can be heard clearly at the top row of the 9,500 person venue.

In my opinion, the experiment of adding John Keane has had less than desirable effects. I didn't come to Morrison, CO to see Panic's albums performed live. I made the long trek to see Panic jam out on their tunes. Too often it felt like Keane was keeping a tight leash on the band when they otherwise would have gone out on a limb. George McConnell is a great guitarist, and the right man for Panic, but he can't burst out of his shell when Mr. Keane is looming large.

John Bell - WSP
06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
Panic is supposed to have a deep southern edge to their music. That edge has been filed down with the addition of John Keane. I had to place myself directly in front of Dave Schools for his bass lines to cut through the mix. After the passing of Michael Houser in 2002, there are essentially four elements that give Panic their signature sound. In no particular order those qualities are Schools' innovative bass techniques such as the sliding karate chop, JoJo Hermann's funky keys, Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz's unique flair on percussion, and John Bell's voice. With Keane on stage, it felt as if all of these qualities, with the exception of JB's singing, were muted and held back.

With everyone settled into their place in the benches of Red Rocks, Panic brought the crowd to their feet with "Solid Rock." This first set was good, with a punchy "Thin Air" thrown in the mix, but when they closed out the set with "Ain't Life Grand," I felt like they didn't hit their maximum intensity.

The second set started off with "Slippin' Into Darkness" as the sun took its leave in the Rocky Mountains. The best run of this show started when Panic went into the anthem off their new album, "Second Skin." I think everyone can assign a meaning to this song, which allows you to connect deeply with the band.

Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
With that connection established, I found myself three rows in front of George when the splashes of Evian and Crystal Geyser informed me that the band had segued into "Chilly Water." With the shadows of the mountains stretching over the city of Denver, the song and the sensation of the droplets were both refreshing.

Sunny's drum solo resonated off the natural red walls of the amphitheater and gave the sound a god-like effect where the drums seemed to be coming from all directions. At the start of his solo, a seasoned Panic fan leaned over and told me that Sunny is the band's secret weapon. Focusing on his sound I realized that his congas, cowbells, and bongos had always captivated me in the background of Panic's songs.

Keane, Nance, Bell :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
From Sunny's solo, the band made their way into "Ribs and Whiskey," a mellow tune during which all three of Panic's guitarists were whipping out their slides, John Keane using his bar slide seated at his pedal steel. "Ribs and Whiskey" is centered around JB's vocal delivery, and as any Panic fan will tell you, JB's voice can take them to another place, and that's one part of the band's sound that couldn't be caged by Keane's presence. The slight raspiness combined with the heartfelt soul can swoon any belle.

As a long-standing fan of the Talking Heads, I was overcome with joy when George slipped the first lick of "Life During Wartime" into the epic jam. Apparently the members of Panic have been fans of the Heads for a long time too. They gave this song an intensity that I thought couldn't be duplicated. The whole audience was swept up in the feverish tune; everyone was dancing with all the room they could occupy on the spacious benches of the amphitheater. The transition back into "Chilly Water" was so flawless that the dancing didn't skip a beat until the band brought the set to an end.

Widespread Panic :: 06.24.06 :: Red Rocks
After a lengthy break, Panic came out playing "None Of Us Are Free." At a time when the song's words take on new meaning, JB's comment "We didn't write that, but we wish we did," rang out through the satellite feed to all of America. The second set of this concert was on a level that few bands can achieve. It takes a group like Panic to take a crowd of 9,000 to the heights we reached at Red Rocks.

In the spirit of making up the plan as you go, I think it would be best for Panic to keep Keane stashed away until those moments for which his technique and sound are best suited. It used to be special when they brought him on stage for a song or two, but the general feeling of the fans is that Keane's time on stage has ballooned too far. With Earth to America, the band truly puts on their second skin. I just hope that skin features George and not a combination of George and John Keane.

Do you have thoughts about John Keane touring with Widespread Panic? Use our Comments Box below to make yourself heard!

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[Published on: 7/28/06]

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nickholley star Fri 7/28/2006 04:31PM
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I have seen panic well over 100 times and I could not disagree with you more about having keane on stage. I know ALOT of people who go see panic and most of them are thrilled that he has joined them. I have always supported George and think he is great but Keane helps panic in many ways and on many songs. The General feel of the crowd is not what you say Sorry

DonnaT starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/28/2006 04:37PM
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Right on time, brother. Love ya, Keane, but stay in GA!
Looking forward to a George nite in Kentucky!

toestothenose starstar Fri 7/28/2006 04:51PM
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Well Mike-

We share a pretty different opinion. Maybe I'm just one of those old Crotchety fans that live in the memory of MH, But Keene has been a breath of fresh air over a stale moment in Panic time.

George is a happy man, heck my personal thought is that he lacks the darkside that made me fall in love with Panic in the first place.

I've been to 20+ shows since Mike passed and last summers Portsmouth, VA Saturday night show was as good as McConnell has played. Keene has joined this summer tour and added a sound that I can connect with easier.

George might be the guitarist picked for the position, he might be the greatest guy in the world, but I am sincerely happy to see Keene in for an extended haul.

Do you also feel poorly torwards Sam Holt when he steps in for let's say - the nasty Machine from Dallas?

okid5003 Fri 7/28/2006 05:12PM
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i hit the entire kc to seattle and the rumor is george is out......thats why keane has been sittin in so he can learn the rep so they can continue to tour while they find a replacement....a very touchy subject which i am not gonna get into......but George spits fire... which brought new life to panic after mikey's passing....and filled the spot and raised them to new levels....and keane does not do that....and wont probably due to the fact that he is not gonna lead a band that isnt who will replace george?????.........i dont think keane is permanent...just a filler...and that is what his playing sounds like........saved by the bell>bow legged>stsb....let em know

ilikemychkn Fri 7/28/2006 05:26PM
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wonder if a certain person will not be with panic after the fall...hence why keane and sam have been filling in? just an observation

rwilliams star Fri 7/28/2006 05:50PM
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I've been a fan of WSP since the spring of 1997, and I must say that John Keane and Sam Holt have brought back some of the signature sound that the band has been lacking. I can only wonder who these fans are that feel Keane's time on stage has ballooned too far, and if they ever saw this band with it's original line-up.

The "certain precision" you speak of Keane bringing to the songs, is actually the songs played the way they were meant to be played. In tune, correctly, with the basic riffs played the way they are supposed to be. How long are we supposed to give George to learn the into to Surprise Valley? How long are we supposed to sit by idle, when the guitar tech can play circles around the lead guitarist? If you can't hear it in person and on the tapes, I seriously doubt you've listened to any pre-2003 material. I'm not trying go living in the past though, but let's at least find someone who can do the music justice and play it the way it's supposed to be played. WSP and their fans both deserve it.

Mill Valley Management starstarstarstar Fri 7/28/2006 06:30PM
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Mill Valley Management

fist, it was nice to have a review written by someone who isn't a hardcore fan...reading something that isn't bias is good for the integrity of the work. For that, I give an A+. As for the review itself, you are going to piss off a lot of Panic fans with some of those comments. But, you are entitled to your opinion and we must respect that. However, if you were in Dallas on 7/26 and heard not 3 but 4 guitars rip Porch...or 3 different ones rip Machine >Barstools, you might be singing a different tune. At one point in Diner George was playing rhythm w/JB and Keane was fully playing the lead...and it was as close to lingering as it gets these days. Stop-Go w/Keane on pedal is more rich and full. Even if Mikey was alive I would like to see Panic experiment like they are doing now. I think it takes guts and courage to experiment on-stage. And I think it takes skill (from all players) to change the instrumentation of your music. What rock band has done that? It is a very jazzy idea. The Stones rehearse for months before hitting the road with new instrumentation. Panic rehearses for a week or so and tests it on the road. Balls, I tell ya. So, cheers for them for keepin' it up! They are still the only band that makes me shake like a leaf in a hurricane.

Hollow starstar Fri 7/28/2006 08:13PM
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I have to disagree with you about George's sound lacking the darkside. 'Haunting' is one of the first words that come to mind when I try to describe it to someone. I was at last summer's Portsmouth show, as well, and agree that it was badass, though! Long live WSP!!!

hellyeah Fri 7/28/2006 08:45PM
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here in eugene a couple of weeks ago sam holt and keane came out and it was great. george can rip up that guitar though and is getting a better feel for the songs. he sounds much better than end of 03. people need to give the guy a break. none of us can imagine stepping in and filling those shoes and doing it half as well as george does.

pat5507 starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/28/2006 09:23PM
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3 guitarists are way too much. i completely agree with you. keane does not bring a lick of energy to the stage. he's a solid player but george is an above average player. panic should stick with george, the kid can well. completely agree with this assessment. saw them at the fox this year and i wasn't feelin keane for most of the show. a few songs is cool, but the whole show it's just annoying. they already have 6 people as it is if they add another it will just be too much

burn star Sat 7/29/2006 02:08AM
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John Keane makes me wish I had skipped tour last year. And spent everything I had THIS summer.

mwoods starstar Sat 7/29/2006 06:09AM
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I have to disagree with most of your opinions in this article. I never wanted Panic to choose a guitarist to be another Houser, and I think George was a great choice because he was very different and brought a new energy and flavor. But something was missing that I think Keane helps fill in and that is those signature riffs in some of the classic songs that George just never sounded right on. Keane fills in these moments perfectly. I find it odd that you mentioned that with Keane there is a lack of 'jamming' going on. In just the first set of this show alone there are several extended jam pieces. Thin Air is over 15 minutes long and the Drivin > Papa's sandwich has some long and very explorative sections. Finally, a correction: about None of Us Are Free, JB says "We did not write that, but we FELT that!" Check the tape.

jenemama Sat 7/29/2006 06:34AM
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When asked what I think about John Keene being on stage, my reply is that "I don't". Not in a negative way, it's just that he blends so well, I don't really notice. I've always loved his cameos with the pedal steel... they're a treat. But to consider him as a permanent layer of WP, I firmly believe it is not necessary for the future success of the band. What I do notice, is that when either John K. or even Sam takes the stage... guess who is still doing his job and doing it well? ... it's GEORGE! He's out there wailing on his guitar like the rock star that he is. Solo's? Yeah, it's George bringing it alright. Last I checked, there were six members in Widespread Panic and I sure hope it stays that way. Long live WP, the six headed monster!

doc260 star Sat 7/29/2006 08:37AM
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i totally disagree with your opinion. keane playing is refreshing to long time panic fans. i wish he would join them full time. he was on fire in memphis last night. hopefully tonite will be more of the same

jasonthehead starstar Sat 7/29/2006 09:14AM
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Interesting article and comments...when I read the coment about Ribs and Whiskey being a mellow tune I figured something was wrong, with either the show or the review or both. Maybe it was played mellow that night, who knows? I didn't see enough shows during the run out west but what I did see was a show with just enough Keane (FRI 7/7 Berkeley), he stayed offstage for many of the songs. I actually wished he was out there a bit more. I think George is fantastic, maybe not dark enough for some but he rips on the songs he is asked to rip on and backs off on others for the sake of the band's new direction and sound. I think JB is coming through more because that's how they want it to be, they want his vocals to be heard and absorbed by everyone in the audience, as they often get buried in the wave of sound that is Panic. By the way, Panic never was stale, just very wobbly from the Summer of 2002 until mid-April last year. They seemed to have a little wobble back in their step in Berkeley, but the 8 shows I saw in 2005, from NYC to L.A. to Vegas, were as tight as JB's mind on a whiskey-soaked night.

wspencer21 starstar Sat 7/29/2006 10:51AM
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Panics doing this for a twentieth anniversary tour and i think its great!! Keane fills in those gaps that george just cant seem to do on his own. And hearing keane play surprise valley and nail it seals the deal for me!

crystalcafemac Sat 7/29/2006 11:52AM
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Would have loved to been in Memphis last night to hear that You Got Yours with Keane singing Houser's lines.
What little bit I have heard sounds nice!
I personally think Keane is there to help reintroduce Mickey's songs and help George to become more comfortable with performing some of the intricacies of Houser's style. Time will tell, but the only time they have to practice as a unit is on the road in front of their fans.

jerryil star Sat 7/29/2006 11:58AM
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"....the general feeling of the fans is that Keane's time on stage has ballooned too far."
Well, so far it's three against two in the other direction my friend. I saw the first night in Berkeley and really enjoyed the presence of J. Keane. I thought that the mix was good and no one was left unheard. How can you argue against permanent pedal steele?

barstoolrodeo4 Sat 7/29/2006 11:58AM
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I respectfully disagree with a lot of this writer's claims. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but its pretty obvious the writer has no idea what the general consensus of the fans are. Im pretty sure most of the loyal fans don't feel Keane's presence has" ballooned too far"; in fact, most people regard this tour as the closest and purest inception of Widespread Panic since Mikey died. I don't consider George McConnell a "great guitarist." He's a pretty nice guy but a subpar musician, and certainly not "the right man for panic" if the opinions of the fans mean anything.

umfree starstarstarstar Sat 7/29/2006 12:11PM
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I would have to agree. Seeing John Keane is a special treat but I don't want to see him all the time. I went to the Savannah show in October, which was the first time I ever saw him on stage with Panic and it was great but now it just seems like overkill. I saw the shows in Raleigh and listened to Red Rocks on Sirius but I would rather if Keane just showed up for a few songs and left it at that. I will say though, any time he adds the pedal steel is great.

delete_me165 star Sat 7/29/2006 02:06PM
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Jambase-please just let the Kayceman review Panic...

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstar Sat 7/29/2006 04:56PM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Ohhhh This will cause controversy for sure. First>toestothenose. lacks the darkside << not always true.
I have seen George dig deep on a Barstools at 4-20-05. He can do it, but not consistently. I am 35 yrs old, seen them since the ga theater days, and I saw Keane step in at the webcast shows from the fox. I went to the theather and when Keane was on Electric lead, I felt that good old feeling. I thought his solos on electric were pure magic.
The rumor I hear is George has carpal tunnel syndrome and his hand is giving him problems. I suppose I wanted them to congeal with george and leave it at that, but now I feel, Keane may could step up in that spot, if george quits. I do not really want 3 guitars.. two is plenty.
but lets see how this plays out, Panic is professional, they will drive the groove where it fits them.. Long live the dark side!!! peace yall..

adam36 Sat 7/29/2006 07:14PM
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you know, ive been to a number of shows since mikey passed as well as george is the man. stale? are you serious. maybe you havent seen the shows that ive seen but george rips it up. and of course its not the same because hes not mikey. it would be impossible to capture that same energy. your right, john keene is awesome and the darkness is what made me love panic and why i still love panic. we have to play with the cards that we are dealt, and just the fact that widespread still is touring is blessing enough for me. im sorry you dont feel the same way. it is also kind of funny to me that you are complaining about the lack of darkness behind panic and you have a picture posted with Bob Weir. the most sissiest member of the grateful dead.

God i love panic then and forever.

ikojones starstarstarstarstar Sat 7/29/2006 07:57PM
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I thought it was cool in kansas city when keane was on stage but last night in memphis keane held george down. i'm a big george beleiver and keane keeps him from being the monster that he can be! panic doesn't need another guitarist just george and jb. I think everyone is still in denial, and wont let themselves see george's amazing guitar stylings.

matt3 starstarstarstar Sun 7/30/2006 01:38AM
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sweet .another old dude to chug along in e minor ...i am estatic
love matt

Rod365 starstarstarstar Sun 7/30/2006 03:27AM
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I am in total agreement with you. Your statement, "Too often it felt like Keane was keeping a tight leash on the band when they otherwise would have gone out on a limb", is right on. Keane is all right to play a couple of songs, but please, not every one!

GroovyShoe star Sun 7/30/2006 10:20AM
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Thanks for your negative view of John Keane being on stage too much. Sometimes going to a show should be a simple question of did you have a good time or not. And if you didn't, shut your mouth and move on. I feel like this community sometimes overanalyzes these situations and the end result is not always worth putting the magnifying glass on a specific band or show.

What’s the end goal here? To get John Keane off tour? Just to voice your negative opinion? Do you feel like you are adding to a worthy discussion? Is this a healthy debate to have?

I saw both shows at the Greek in Berkeley and talked to Dave Schools for an interview. When I asked him about John Keane on tour, Dave said he couldn’t be happier to have him on stage. That’s enough for me. This is just another way they would like to present the songs of Panic. You either like it or you don’t. But is it really worth it to write a long article to say you would rather have him on stage less? The band likes having him there so enjoy it or don’t go to any more shows on this tour.

wumpus252 star Sun 7/30/2006 10:30AM
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Sorry Mike but you got this one all wrong. Keane (and Sam) have filled the gap that everyone feels has been missing and they take the pressure off George and allow him just do his thing. I have always been a fan of George and the new sound but this is the best the boys have sounded since 02. Make no mistake folks, this is the new beast called PANIC!

Silvers Sun 7/30/2006 11:21AM
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JB's comment was actually "We didn't write that, but we felt it." As a long time Panic fan I think the addition of Keane brings out a sound that has been missing since Houser passed on. I've only been to four shows since he's been gone but that night at Red Rocks was the best (by a long shot) and much needed for me personally. Thank You Widespread Panic.

Chaloupka starstar Sun 7/30/2006 03:48PM
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Yeah, I disagree w/ the author too. I've seen around 50 Panic shows, and I thought the Sunday evening show @ Red Rocks was about as good a Panic show as I've ever seen. I personally think Keane should play w/ them all the time.

hoosierpanic star Sun 7/30/2006 07:37PM
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I think John Keane, and Sam Holt as well, have brought the band back to life. Keane was fantastic with them in Spring 2002 when Mikey was sick, and he sounds even better now. I look forward to seeing Sam and John rip it up in Indy and Chitown. I like George, but Sam and John bring it back to the way it sounded when I fell in love with Panic. I love it, and hope it continues, couldn't disagree with your opinion more. I don't know a single person of the hundreds I know that go to Panic shows who aren't thrilled about John and Sam's sit ins.

tnfreaker Sun 7/30/2006 10:48PM
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Sam Holt has been killing it this tour, Visting Day from LA, all of Seattle when he played, etc. He and George would be my pick

Alex2112 Sun 7/30/2006 11:15PM
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George shreds all over the place. How can anyone not love that? So if you add a third guitar player, super fucking bitchin George now is relegated to only shreding all over some of the place, a lot of the place at best. How can this be a good thing??????? What was ever wrong with George just killing it every night? It's too crowded up there.

bwakerwsp starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 06:00AM
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GET OVER IT PANIC FANS!!!! John, George, Sam it really doesn't matter who is playing. This band lost its identity when Mikey passed. Just enjoy the music with your friends, tell your mother you love her and get to know your father and quick complaining about F%#&ing WSP. Relax and enjoy what is taking place in front of you...thats what Mikey did...

Arturo starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 07:55AM
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I feel like a little fatherless child, not quite sure which of my mommy's new "uncles" will be frying up eggs in her kimono each morning. Will it be Uncle John, the elementary school principal? Or will it be Uncle Sam, who can do that trick where it looks like he pulls off his thumb?

Help a kid out. I need a little stability. It helps my piece of mind if I know whose legs are going to be poking out of that red robe in the morning.

And, um...the kids at school were talking about Uncle George. What's "car-pool tunnel?"

Death Cube K Mon 7/31/2006 09:54AM
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Death Cube K

I've seen this many shows... I've seen that many shows. Big deal. I've heard that George may have a condition that could end his days with panic.

Goodppl star Mon 7/31/2006 10:14AM
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"I would go and see panic if Big Bird was the lead guitarist" Keep it coming with Keene...

hiddentreasure Mon 7/31/2006 11:03AM
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Bravo GroovyShoe. Saw the boys in Winter Park and St. Louis last night. Ripped it up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 11:19AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I am sooo geared up for Louisville this week!!!! Hot damn!
Just tear my head off!!! I love u WSP.... peace yall..

statzj37 starstarstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 11:33AM
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Widespread Panic is my favorite band in the world, but I must admit that I didn't jump on the bandwagon until 2003, so I never saw Mikey live. The band I have fallen in love with is the McConnell era Panic, and thats what I like. I really hope George isn't leaving because I would hate to see Panic go through another period of transition when they seemed to be kicking so much ass in '05 and so far in '06. As far as Keane and Sam go I am indifferent. As long as they don't detract than I am fine with them out there, but I am quite content (even ecstatic!) with George.

pronice starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 12:35PM
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Jets19rule: Georgie's condition is that he plays with a machine gun instead of a guitar sometimes. He's probably a mad cool guy, too, but I can't get into everything he does on stage. Hey, I like the 'new Panic' just as much as the next person but his licks can get monotonous and stale after a while. I've seen a bunch of shows before and since Mikey passed but none with John Keane out there (sorry, I am from the northeast and we don't get as much Panic as the rest of y'all!). The reviewer needs to expreience what all these reviewees are writing about and not be so biased. I have heard GREAT things about this tour...
...I hope Keane stays with the boys so I can experience that sound in Manchester. Maybe Big Bird will be their 'special' guest.
Long live PANIC!!!

Summer starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 01:16PM
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If you check out Panic's MySpace page there is a comment there (Posted at the end of last week) telling George that she was sorry to hear about his hand and he was a great guitar player, etc.

I think that the puzzle just fit....

blower starstarstar Mon 7/31/2006 04:11PM
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The show review should have been more about the show and less about John Keane. Interesting discussion never the less. Saw the Tahoe shows. It did feel at times like they were somehow auditioning for a guitar player. I had a simialiar type of feeling when I saw Mikey and George play together at Red Rocks. If George has health issues, I'm sorry, what a bummer after all the hard work he has put forth. He really has taken on a tuff act to follow and has done well.

Keane sounded great, especially on lap steel. He is a solid player, but did not add anything that warrants another full time guitar player. The author seems to be feeding some unsubstantiated rumors. Keane was a treat to hear on this tour and I would enjoy hearing him again. However, George and John Keane have a such a similiar guitar tone especially during rythm parts (Fender amps) that at times it just seemed like redunancy. JB and George both play slide guitar so well that the pedal steel was really just a nice bonus. I am just happy to hear WSP with or without John Keane. Just Bust it big!

But, Sam Holt absolutley rocks. He has the tone that kills it. Sam on the Soldano-Mesa Boogie combo sounds like a rock star, and Panic is a rock and roll band. The fender amps just do not have the same drive. Sam has it. With a volume pedal he can sound just like Houser if he wants to or add his own unique ass kicking.

If rumor is correct and George is on the way out, I do not think Keane has enough grit to be the main man for WSP, he is very technically proficient but is not the hard rocking machine that Sam is. Impossible with Sam was amazing. Until confirmed George still has earned the gig in my book. Even if Sam hits it harder.

cocheese starstarstarstar Tue 8/1/2006 06:39AM
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I haven't gotten the chance to see the new format for Panic yet this summer, but I'll be there in Chi-town. For me JoJo and Sunny are the ones who get me going at Panic shows, but there was always something really special about Mikey's playing that I haven't quite found yet with George. I have heard from a lot of SpreadNecks that Keane can bring back those haunting licks and elicit memories of early Panic. So I ready for Chi-town and the Southern leg of the fall tour, because you Panic always brings the heat in the good ole South!

greatful71 Tue 8/1/2006 07:09AM
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Keane in Memphis was a great addition. George held his own...but having the 2nd guitar in the wings to tear it up a little was nice...the band I saw in Memphis was rejuvinated and ready to kick your ass...I haven't seen WSP get a room that riled up in many years...probably before Mikey they are doing something right.

Panic is alive and well...

stlhoffman Tue 8/1/2006 12:56PM
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I've heard the rumors concering George, and after seeing the show in STL. I belive they are true. Except for "Stop Breakin' Down" he just wasn't gettin' it on. Yea he looked like he was havin' fun but conceded quite a few solos to Keane. Weather George stays, Sam or John takes over. They will remain the greatest rock band playing today!

chrisprice starstar Tue 8/1/2006 02:07PM
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Not an experienced Panic fan, 5 shows(1 with Mike) and I caught 2 shows on this tour (Jackson,Wy and Winter Park).
The Jackson show was by far the best Panic show I've ever seen, all the guitars were solid and I didn't feel that anyone was holding anyone back..... They're as good as ever in my opinion, for whatever it's worth

jjwood starstarstar Tue 8/1/2006 03:13PM
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While the Keane comments are interesting, I'd like to talk to the person who claims he/she can hear acoustic instruments in the last row at Red Rocks. To this well seasoned concert-goer, the acoustics at Red Rocks
are flawed in the last 25 rows since the sound travels
UP instead of in the back. On a windy day, a listening
experience at Red Rocks can be challenging to itself,
but especially for acoustic instruments since they cannot
travel the same way as electric because of volume and tone alone. One's mileage will vary here, but while Red Rocks
is a venue that visually speaks for itself, there are better places in Colorado for acoustic music, such as the Chautaugua Auditorium in Boulder, Mishawaka Amphitheatre,
the Boulder Theater, Fox Theatre and the Planet Bluegrass Ranch.

missinmikey star Tue 8/1/2006 03:15PM
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I agree with a lot of these posts, and I'm sure this discussion will continue... It's a shame this article wasnt a review of the show, rather a rant on John Keane. My thoughts: If George is having health issues, everyone should wish him well. Personally, after 120+ shows, majority of those coming with the founding 6 members, change is hard to handle. The hardest obviously being the passing of a band member. My hat goes off to the band for plowing through that. Personally, if George's days Panic are over, as today they are rumored to be, then bring on the next era. But, please, please keep it coming. There is a solid fan base of 'old school' fans that will support this band no matter the changes. Most of who are saying, bring on Sam Holt and Bring on John Keane.

chillyribs star Tue 8/1/2006 03:58PM
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Rumors, rumors, rumors. Regardless of what everyone is saying about the Keane/George saga, WSP is still treatin' people to a good time. Keane probably was invited because the boys love to have guests play with them. George rips, Keane's good, and I miss Mikey, but more importantly I'm just glad that when I'm at a show, I'm spending another memorable evening with the boys.

earlgonefishn star Tue 8/1/2006 06:40PM
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So, George isn't playing in Louisville tonight. Rumors have it he's out for good. Do you like the taste of crow?

bigrivermusic starstarstar Tue 8/1/2006 08:08PM
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Just my two cents...if you have been to a WSP show since Mikey's untimely death you have George to thank. I truly believe that such a tight knit family like Panic losing a founding member wouldn't have continued to tour unless a guy like George was available. Remember, Gmac was HANDPICKED by Mikey and a bandmember with JoJo!!! I really don't see Panic holding auditions, too non-family of a move. Mikey taught Gmac his songs, Gmac literally helped make it possible for Houser to even attempt to finish that tour. I personally will forever be indebted to George and the band for making it possible for me and my good friands to see those last Red Rocks shows with Mikey. Houser played like a man whose life depended on each note!!! Watching his frail body walk off and then return for that Sunday encore of LGTSOTR, Sometimes was a real heavy moment. Few realized just how near the end he was, myself included. You surely couldn't tell from the conviction of his playing!! I really don't think there would even be a Panic without George and that makes his effort pretty special in my book. Thanks George and good luck in whatever you do. As a guitarist who makes his living playing guitar, I simply can't imagine having that taken away from my be it carpal tunnel or whatever. Like I say, just two cents worth from a longtime time Panic Freak (met my future wife at my first show: 5/6/93, Vic Theater, Chicago, IL-check the setlist, Dream Show Indeed! Take care and remember folks, "It's only Rock and Roll, but I like it."

scottmcs starstarstarstar Tue 8/1/2006 08:28PM
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Hearing George is gone, confirmed he didn't play tonight 8/1, not sure if he was fired, contract expired, or possible medical condition. I'm hoping it was medical and that he can come back, there are alot of George haters, but he has had 2 years of experience and knows the songs and hoping he wasn't fired, if he was, why didn't this happen before the new album, tour, etc.

daveapaug Wed 8/2/2006 05:54AM
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Y'all got your wish. Should've just found another favorite band instead of Hatin on this one. Enjoy the Herring.

nfenne starstarstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 07:27AM
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adam36 said: Bob Weir. the most sissiest member of the grateful dead.

WHAT?!?! With songs like Estimated Prophet, Throwing Stones, The Other One how can you say that? I think Bob's songs are powerful and complex. Brent Mydland HAD to be the "sissiest" (is that a word?) member of the Dead.

As someone who is still trying to acquaint themselves with Panic I look forward to hearing the new additions. I can say that hearing Trey play with Phil was a treat but hearing play an entire set with them wasn't. I felt like he held the band back but then again there were other fans there that said it was the best show they've heard. I respect the author for politely stating his opinion then openening the forum for the fans to duke it out.

Bedmunds starstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 09:58AM
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It just hit the WSP website, George has moved on - a real shame after a new album & mid-summer tour

Michael_Kaiz starstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 11:20AM
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Well I guess I was wrong about George being "the right man for Panic." I'd put my endorsement in for Sam Holt ahead of John Keane though. I'm sorry if a lot of people didn't like my review, but I'm not writing to make die hard Panic fans happy, I'm writing to give my point of view.

jasonthehead starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 12:35PM
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way to speak up, Michael, props to you for chiming in...

jd123 starstarstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 01:35PM
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bigrivermusic, chillyribs, refreshing to read your posts, my sentiments exactly, i've supported the band through the post-mikey transition (and had many kick a** times and shows in doing so) and will do so going forward. i am truly dismayed today however, sad to see george go for one but i'm even more bummed at the outright hate and vitriol being directed at him on the boards. it is one thing to not appreciate his musical stylings, quite another to spew venom and hatred towards him as a person. seeing all of these alleged 'fans' dancing on his grave today is a REAL is sooo depressing to see that there are so many a**holes in the panic community.

the relix story tease, where george said he feels like the most hated member in the jam community, is particularly sad. the man gave his all for four years so that we could keep going to shows and getting down, and his thanks for doing so is a non-stop barrage of criticism from mean-spirited ALLEGED fans. SHAME on the haters....without george, you wouldn't have panic here to bitch and moan haters are truly the quintessential Turds in the Panic punchbowl.

i am grateful to george for stepping up and ripping it and i am ashamed of the hateful personal commentary he has been subjected to from one rotten sector of the panic community. we are lucky to still have panic at all and while i look forward to supporting the band in this new endeavor, i dread the day when the hateful comments start towards whoever steps in next.

anyway, it was refreshing to see the mostly reasoned analysis and commentary on this post. spread the love, not the hate! long live panic!

Jackaro2 Wed 8/2/2006 02:17PM
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I will miss George as much as the next guy & he seems like a very nice guy . However I think that he never really fit into their lineup whereas John Keane or Sam Holt could step right in and take over without making so many waves . I think that he was given enough time to prove himself but something just wasnt right obviously and if I were him and every night there were two other lead guitarists playing along it would make me wonder if something was wrong . I have heard a recording of Jb playing with John Keane acoustic and Keane plays a sick lead on lgtsotr . Sam holt I havent heard that much but Ive heard he is great . Im sure many nay sayers of George are doing cartwheels knowing that he is gone , but I say hey you had a good run there fella . Taker easy George , good luck .

blower starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/2/2006 07:15PM
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Thanks George you rock! Thanks for all you did. Kudos to the author. For not being a spreadneck you felt it. I stand corrected your article hit it right on.

Jimmy Herring at Sound Check 8/2/06? Sam playing every song? How will the drama play out? Just Played Picken Up the Pieces. Old school with Sam can't wait to hear it. Exciting times for a fan.

There are many who may lack sensitivity when they hide behind the computer on forums and it seems pretty harsh. But it really is not because they are "haters", the opposite is true. It is really because they love music and the band, too damn much. I just try to remember that when I read or hear some of the B.S. and hope George does too. They certainly could not hold a candle to him when it comes to rocking out.

Live long and Lucky!

jimmyjetski starstar Thu 8/3/2006 05:59AM
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To understand Keane, please listen to the posthumous ( that means after you are dead ) album by Houser " Sandbox".

Keane plays most of the other instruments over some home made demo tapes that Mikey left. He is supremely talented and connected to the history and sound of Panic. Spirit moves in all things.
The album is emotionally charged, so Vermont-band followers may not understand it.

PS- I still would like to see Herring, I think his improvs are probably better.

AustinRocks starstarstarstar Thu 8/3/2006 06:45AM
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I agree with everything jd123 wrote (Thank you).

There are a TON of a**holes in the Panic community. And I LOVE the fact that a lot of them are referencing "Lets Get Down to Business" now that George is gone. Don't they realize that song is NOT even a Panic tune? Learn your music.

And to all the haters, DON'T GO to a show if you hate the musician. What's the point? There will NEVER be another Mikey. Period. Nobody can fill those shoes-not even Sam or Keane. Face the facts people and live in the now. I loved Mikey and George. 2 different styles, 2 different people.

And I've said it before, I'll say it again...I really hope people find out how the band acted the past few days. I for one, will no longer support a band that treats friends that way.

Tony8 Thu 8/3/2006 09:43AM
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Damn! I never even knew so many fans bitched about George in the first place! I seen George with Panic in Memphis October 05 and I thought it was great! I am a musician myself and I think that George has done an excellent job stepping up after Mikeys untimely death. I am sure that whoever takes on the role will do fine. The three guitar thing sounds good for a song or two and that's it. Unless it's Bob Weir, Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes...hehe You Rock can come join my band anytime! HA! I am just glad this band is still around after Mikey's death and didn't cop out like the Dead did and create like a hundred "spin off" groups...Phil and Friends, Ratdog, The Other Ones....blah blah blah

nwilso Thu 8/3/2006 10:02AM
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Exactly jd123, I am a newcomer to the panic family and was not able to see mikey in person but if it hadnt been for george I may have never seen or heard of them. If you dont like the sound that George brought to the table then dont listen to it. Simple as that. I still am a fan and dont care who plays for them. Never in my life have I enjoyed and had music that meant this much to me and I dont want that to go away. The only thing that is hurting the band now is all the haters that talk bad about how george sounded bad and that they would sit back at shows and make fun of the things he screwed up during the show. I have no interest in going to a show just to see them screw up and never will. I'll see all you REAL fans at Portsmouth and all you haters can stay at home.

blower starstarstarstar Thu 8/3/2006 04:49PM
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Its official! Jimmy Herring will be on fall tour full time.

Not sure how I feel. Hope he brings the heat! His technical skills could take the band to another planet. They have never had a full time lead guitair player as profficient. Never really heard a hard southern tone from him however. I really can't wait to hear how they fit him in the mix.

If he can find his own identity in the band, and find that hard southern edge, look out world! If he does not sit back and play supporting cast or try to emulate Houser too much, he might just be perfect. It looks like Panic has many good years ahead Rock on!

Tony8 Fri 8/4/2006 10:26AM
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Blower I guess you haven't heard him when he was with the Allman Brothers

rmarcus51 Fri 8/4/2006 02:37PM
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Actually, John Keane produced almost every Panic record. The 2nd record (Self-Titled), and Everyday (3rd record) were both produced and recorded by Johnny Sandlin, an old school Capricorn producer famous for recording early Allman Bros. records. Sandlin also produced and recorded the bonus tracks for Space Wrangler that appear on every copy now. Lucky for me I still have an original Landslide copy too, as I had to buy it 3 times in high school due to repeated swipes by my friends. I guess now it is a true collector's item.

joejoe2000 starstarstarstar Sat 8/5/2006 07:26PM
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I went to the show last night 8/4 in MD. I've seen about 20 shows since 96'. I only saw George McConnell in MD when he was just starting and at the movie theater show this year. Never really had a trancendenal feeling with his guitar playing. I saw John Keane at a couple shows on slide and little guitar and thought he was ok. Well let me tell ya. John Keane is a guitar god. He got on that axe for Ain't no use and Band sounded like it was firing on all cylinders. He seemed to really step up when he took over. I really think he needs to cut his own album.

I liked Sam Holt. He seemed to be able to play the way Houser did. that signiture sound where it sound like the guitar was reeling you in as opposed sending out music. (hope you now what I mean).

I've seen Jimmy Herring play with the DEAD. He is very good. I look forward to seeing that incarantion of the band.

alias22 Sun 8/6/2006 01:44PM
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Jimmy Herring is one of the greatest guitar players around. But, they will still miss the dark evil tones of Michael. The band hasn't done anything musically in a very long time...

dwyerm Mon 8/7/2006 11:40AM
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Does anyone know why George left w/ just two weeks left in the tour? I heard a rumor he had schlerosis??? I can only think it is medical b/c why wouldn't he finish the tour?? Bottom line...sunday at winter park and the red rocks shows prove that panic is as bad ass as ever...widespreadmotherfuckinpanic.

freddyg3 starstarstar Tue 8/15/2006 08:21PM
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Been a huge fan since the early days and saw literally hundreds of shows by the early 90's. Saw my last show mid to late 90's and fell out of the touring scene, but kept up with the music. I saw my 1st show in 6 or 8 years on the 2nd night in Memphis - one of the best I've ver seen. The whole band (guests and all) were completely tight and the whole house was a sweaty, rockin groove. Think about it for a minute... would any of you have even tried to fill Mike's shoes if you were a musician and asked to join? Yeah, me niether. I say right on George and thanks for taking the leap of faith that kept the band on the road. My first show in a long time was so good, it just may be my last as that's the way I remember a Widespread show used to be.