Widespread Panic * Highlights from the 25th Anniversary shows 2011

For your jamtastic listening pleasure, DJ Fundi has put together a 2-part mix featuring highlights of the recent Widespread Panic 25th anniversary shows at the Classic Center in Atlanta, GA. This episode features my favorite moments from the February 10, 2011 show -- we’ll post highlights from the following night next week. I know that purists will be horrified to hear a Panic show edited and blended in this fashion, but oh well -- one can purchase the shows in their glorious entirety at Get ready for some amazing jams, funky grooves and southern soul in these transmissions, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Panic is sounding frickin’ awesome 25 years small feat.

Track listing: For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield; first since 11/22/88), You’ll Be Fine (first since 11/12/01), Proving Ground, Arleen (with Randall Bramblett on saxophone) > Drums > Fire on the Mountain (Grateful Dead; first since 10/2/88) > Space Wrangler > Coconut, Bowlegged Woman, Heaven (Talking Heads).

More DJ Fundi-curated Panic mixes at and

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Interesting to note that Panic opened up their very first show with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” 25 years ago (almost to the day) at the Mad Hatter Ballroom on 2/6/86!

Here’s a review of the 2-night stand, from Honest Tune: The Southern Journal of Jam:

“How many bands can you think of that have made it 25 years, continuing to enamor their fans?  The first groups that likely come to mind are bands as highly regarded as the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, or the Rolling Stones; both of whom have persevered through the loss of key members, addiction, health issues, and an ever changing standard of what is considered "good" music.  The lesser known Widespread Panic is a recent addition to this list and in their 25 years together, they have experienced momentous highs and endured through unthinkable lows.  To the delight of a nation of devoted fans, "The Boys" who met in Athens, GA back in 1986 chose to celebrate the occasion by playing three unforgettable shows at two historic venues.”

More commentary after the jump...

FEBRUARY 10, 2011
The anniversary tour started with a two night run at the Classic Center and would close three nights later at the famed Fox Theatre in Atlanta.  Both venues are sites of legendary Widespread Panic shows, but the Classic Center is actually on the same plot of land where they played their first official show way back on February 6, 1986, when the Mad Hatter Ballroom occupied the parcel.  At that time, the band had very few original songs and was primarily a Grateful Dead cover band. As the first set of the anniversary tour was underway it was clear that this initial performance had not been forgotten.  An opening trio of "For What it's Worth," "Sleepy Monkey," and "Chilly Water" hinted at a possible repeat performance of that first Widespread union.  Of course this was merely a nod to their beginnings as the band has never repeated a set in their 25 year history. 

After the stunning opener, the first set continued with a vigor fueled by the passion of the crowd and some well-placed guest performances.  A massive "One Armed Steve" > "Mr. Soul" had everyone on their feet and featured what was possibly the biggest improvisational moment of the night.  Shortly after, the band was joined by Grammy-nominated John Keane and Anne Richmond Boston. "This Cruel Thing," a song by the recently deceased Vic Chesnutt was played with elegance, and Boston's female vocals truly added to the song's emotional depth.

The rest of the night was filled with well played classic songs like "Jack," "Space Wrangler" and "Coconut," but nobody was prepared for the bubbly bass line that came out of the lateral drum interplay between Sunny Ortiz and Todd Nance. The Grateful Dead's "Fire on the Mountain," a bomb that slapped the crowd across the face, had not been played since 10/2/88.  And man, did they play it. Front man John Bell came with a full out "Fire on the Mountain" rap as Jimmy Herring's guitar wailed as if he was harnessing Jerry Garcia, while Dave Schools held down the low end with his wizardry on the bass. 

At this point it was evident that the band came to throw down. This veteran outfit was not only out to celebrate a career, but to do so in a manner that demonstrated a retrospective glance and provided evidence that nothing has been lost in the long strides and shorts sprints that span a quarter of a century....

Photos from
Creative Loafing.