Watch Widespread Panic & Friends Honor Vic Chesnutt At 25th Anniversary Run In 2011
Widespread Panic continues to roll out pro-shot video from a 2011 run in honor of the band’s 25th anniversary that began with two shows at The Classic Center in their hometown of Athens. A performance of Vic Chesnutt’s “This Cruel Thing” from February 10, 2011 featuring guests John Keane on guitar and Anne Richmond Boston on backing vocals is the latest clip shared by WSP on YouTube.
Fellow Athens artist Vic Chesnutt was a singer-songwriter who collaborated with Widespread Panic as brute. before his death in 2009. Panic has played a number of Chesnutt’s songs without him over the years including “Aunt Avis,” “Blight” and “Protein Drink/Sewing Machine.” The band paid tribute to Vic by recording his “This Cruel Thing” for their 2010 Keane-produced studio album, Dirty Side Down.
I’d like to tell you a few things about the song ‘This Cruel Thing’, which is a Vic Chesnutt song. And one that, John Keane, our producer unearthed for us. We were all pretty heartbroken when Vic passed away. We played a lot of his songs the new years eve right before we went into the studio, and we were sitting around starting the recording session for Dirty Side Down, and uh, we were just like “what can we do for Vic, and for us, and for people who love Vic. Even if it doesn’t make the record we should probably record something.” And so, John Keane started going through his old demo tapes, having worked with Vic Chesnutt for probably 15 years. He found a couple of things, some that were pretty funny, showing Vic’s sense of humor. But then this tune, ‘This Cruel Thing’ came up and it was actually recorded for the album ‘About To Choke’, which John produced for Capitol Records in probably ’97 or ’98, but the track didn’t make the record. I guess the A&R guy didn’t like it. Well, we heard Vic’s demo of it and it just damn near tore out our hearts and stomped on ‘em. And we thought that it would be the right song to do, and a fitting tribute. So, we played it really close to the bone. We preserved the melodies, and JB did an amazing job with the vocals, and Jimmy did a wonderful thing with the baritone guitar, phrasing the melody that Vic played on a little keyboard, as sort of the repetitive hook that you hear between choruses. And we just, we’re just pleased as punch, and we couldn’t be happier. And, uh, we miss you Vic, and I know a lot of other people do…
“This Cruel Thing” was debuted live by Widespread Panic on September 25, 2010 in Alpharetta, Georgia. Panic honored Chesnutt with a performance of the song in Athens as part of the first set of the 25th Anniversary Run on February 10, 2011. Two more renditions came within the next year and then Widespread Panic dusted off “This Cruel Thing” again in Athens on February 10, 2016 and on New Year’s Eve 2019 at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
“This is about one of Athens’ most golden souls, Mr. Vic Chesnutt,” Schools told the crowd in Athens on February 10, 2011 ahead of the band’s performance. Watch how it went down below: