Happy Birthday Jimmy Herring: Performing Live With Widespread Panic In 2016
Today marks renowned guitarist Jimmy Herring’s birthday. Herring was born on January 22, 1962 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Possessing an ability to play blazingly fast with laser accuracy and a mastery of soaring solos, Herring has been one of the most sought after guitarists in the jam scene.
Herring’s compatibility in improvisational situations stems from his early love of jazz having played in jazz fusion groups in high school. Herring would go on to co-found Aquarium Rescue Unit in 1989 along with the late great Col. Bruce Hampton, bassist Oteil Burbridge and drummer Jeff Sipe. Herring’s playing caught the attention of the Allman Brothers Band, who offered him the co-lead guitar position alongside Warren Haynes, which he turned down, with ABB eventually giving a young Derek Trucks a try.
Herring would go on to play on The Derek Trucks Band’s album Out of the Madness and in 2000 briefly toured with ABB alongside Trucks. Around this time Herring also fronted a project called Jazz Is Dead featuring jazzy arrangements of Grateful Dead songs. Herring would go on to join the Grateful Dead family, playing with Phil Lesh & Friends as well as the GD incarnations The Other Ones and The Dead. A few years later, Herring found a more permanent home as the lead guitarist for Widespread Panic, stepping in for the departing George McConnell who joined the band after the death of co-founding guitarist Michael Houser.
While no one could replace Mikey, Herring’s style was a bit more akin to Houser’s than McConnell’s and Jimmy quickly endeared himself to the band and their fans. Herring has played with Panic for 15 years since joining the band in 2006. Ten years after Herring became a member, WSP closed out their spring tour with a three-night stand at The Chicago Theatre in Chicago. In honor of Jimmy Herring’s birthday, JamBase takes a look at the stellar second night which took place on May 5, 2016 for this edition of Full Show Friday.
The show kicks off with the classic Panic cover “Sharon” (David Bromberg), which saw Herring firing right out of the gate. According to the YouTube notes by madpicken, the 2016 Chicago “Sharon” was the first time the band opened with the song since 1986, the same year WSP was founded. More vintage Panic followed in “Chilly Water” which encompassed the Bloodkin tune “Henry Parsons Died.” The first set also contained just the fourth “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan and closed with The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature.”
The second set got underway with the classic “Driving Song” which headed into the rarity “Angels Don’t Sing The Blues” ahead of the favorite “Ain’t Life Grand,” which Herring always shines on. Things really got moving after Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” with a massive “Surprise Valley” that contained “Protein Shake,” “Sewing Machine” and “Drums” before the band returned to “Surprise Valley.” Panic kept up the heat with their classic cover “Arleen” which headed into “Hatfield” (containing an inverted intro, as per Everyday Companion) and bookending the set with “Driving Song.” The encore consisted of “Dream Song” and the rowdy “Tall Boy,” which saw Jimmy delivering the song’s signature riff.
To celebrate Jimmy Herring’s birthday, watch Widespread Panic’s entre May 5, 2016 show from Chicago below via the JamBase Live Video Archive:
Setlist (via Everyday Companion)
Set One: Sharon, Chilly Water > Henry Parsons Died > Chilly Water, Cease Fire > Jamais Vu > Rock, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
Set Two: Driving Song > Angels Don’t Sing The Blues, Ain’t Life Grand, I’m Not Alone, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Surprise Valley > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine > Drums > Surprise Valley, Arleen > Hatfield > Driving Song
Encore: Dream Song, Tall Boy
[‘Hatfield’ with inverted intro.]