Widespread Panic: Another Joyous Occasion
Let’s investigate a simple but joyous jamband formula, the LIVE album. The live setting is where jambands make their mark and carry folks to another dimension of elation. Add to this formula; special guest appearances and extended re-workings of classic songs and you end up with another joyous occasion to celebrate. If done properly, the listener will close their eyes and imagine themselves stage center getting ready for the ride.
Such is evident on the newWidespread Panicalbum. The mighty WP hooked up with the New Orleans basedDirty Dozen Brass Bandand hit the road during the summer of 1999. One can only imagine the amount of notes; solos and extended blowing and noodling that took place over the course of this summer trek. So as I see it, after eight years and seven albums and a fulfilled recording contract, Widespread Panic decided to part ways with Capricorn Records and form their own label, Widespread Records (catchy!). And remembering the jamband formula and the fact that they just cataloged a whole summer of Panic on DAT, what better way to introduce the next phase of their career than to release a live album with the monster funk power of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band covering such classics asStevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, Earl King’s “Big Chief”,Dr John’s “I Walk on Guilded Splinters”and “Arleen” by Winston Riley. I can’t think of a better way but a special mention must be made for the smack ass send-up of “Guilded Splinters” that finds this ensemble leading a butt shaking boogie parade.
The rest of Another Joyous Occasion is pure unadulterated Panic. On “Fishwater Reprise”, the percussion drops into a rhythmic Latin groove for several minutes before guitaristsJohn BellandMichael Houserstep in and jettison the energy while the horns muscle the music along. Elsewhere, Widespread launch this same percussive parade on “Coconuts” off of their self-titled 1991 album and with the Brass Band in full swing, I kept waiting for them to break into the Blues Brothers theme.
The Dirty Dozen showed up on Panic’s last studio effort to record with the band on“Christmas Katie”and, live, they get down and really dirty as if on a rollicking ride down the Mississippi. And just when you think this track can’t feel any more euphoric, the guitars begin soaring and visit that sacred dualing guitar extravaganza where onlyLynyrd Skynyrd’s“Free Bird” fears to tread. But, never fear, for Panic has already upped the ante, as the horn section adds that extra fat and the sound insulates your mind.Make it last all night!This segues into anewWidespread Panic cut “Beehive Jam” which is a nearly 12-minute flight featuring atmospheric soundscapes, out horn phreak outs and plenty of whacked freeform wailing. I’m sure it seemed like another joyous occasion to drop some acid and head back to the hive.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this band is at their finest when they play live. Panic is one of the top touring acts in the country and have the distinction of setting a one-day attendance record for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1999, drawing 63,000 spectators to the festivals first ever two-set performance. Listening to these guys tear a new hole in rock amidst a wall of horns, sounds like another joyous occasion for Panic fans to spread ‘em wide for Another Joyous Occasion.
Widespread Panic - John Bell (vocals, guitars) / John Hermann (keyboards, vocals) / Michael Houser (guitars, vocals) / Todd Nance (drums) / Domingo S. Ortiz (percussion) / Dave Schools (basses). Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Record Label: Widespread Records
Style: Beyond Jazz