Widespread Panic has been busy—though not too busy to play a two-night, post-turkey run in Asheville.
• The band’s hard-working habits earned it the recent honor of the first “Road Warrior Award” from Billboard magazine. This award represents their work ethic, steadfast dedication to touring year after year, and their commitment to the art and craft of live performance.
• The band was recently inducted to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (along with Ludacris and Keith Sweat, to name two).
• One of the highest-grossing live musical acts for more than a decade, the band just wrapped up its fall tour (promoting the album Free Somehow) with multiple shows across the country.
Widespread Panic has played hundreds of shows per year for more than 21 years. The band also has released 11 albums and boasts more than 300 songs in their repertoire.
Free Somehow was the first Panic album that included lead guitarist and shredder Jimmy Herring. Xpress recently spoke with Herring post-tour, following a fishing excursion with his family in Charleston.
“I can’t think of a more deserving award for such a hard-working group of cool dudes,” says Herring of the “Road Warrior” honor. “I didn’t feel comfortable joining them on stage [to accept the award], because I had only been playing with these guys for two years.”
The mayor of Denver honored them with a key to the city for their 32 straight sold-out shows at the majestic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Widespread Panic has also been an Asheville fan favorite going all the way back to 1988, when they played at the Fine Arts Theatre.
Herring says that Asheville inspires him to play and also to create music, and that the fans here are always so fired up to see them play.
He takes pride in being the band’s ultimate “side man” guitarist, as evidenced by his work with the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Jazz is Dead and The Aquarium Rescue Unit, to name a few. His first solo album was produced with his friends Derek Trucks, Brevard resident Jeff Sipe and others.
Herring, a native of Fayetteville and a graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology, has brought his own jazzy rhythm guitar to help fill the void of sounds that the late Michael Houser brought to the world of Panic. ***Herring plays super-speedy, twisting notes into complicated long solos.
“We don’t categorize our sound as jazz, rock, or jam, we just play and let the music take care of itself,” Herring says.
Widespread Panic plans to continue to tour until its New Year’s shows in Denver. “We look forward to taking a break from the tour and get back to working on more projects, and start writing new material” Herring says.
Food-drive activist and lead singer John Bell, and the rest of Widespread Panic, are encouraging everyone to bring a canned item to the Civic Center to benefit MANNA FoodBank.
“During this time of year it’s always great to give back to others, and this is what makes this band such great people to be around,” Herring says.
who: Workhorse jam band Widespread Panic
where: Asheville Civic Center
when: Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. ($35 per night. www.ticketmaster.com)