Widespread Panic - Wakarusa Music Festival

2010 Artist Lineup

Widespread Panic

“If I was to pass anything on to other bands, it would be find people you like and trust them” says John Bell (JB). If you’re gonna listen to anyone, it might as well be JB. As lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Widespread Panic he knows what it takes to make a band work. What started as a few friends picking guitars at the University of Georgia has evolved into one of the most successful rock bands in the world. In their 24 years together they’ve sold over 3 million albums and are consistently one of Pollstar’s Top 50 grossing live acts. No relationship that lasts this long is easy, but the path Widespread Panic has traversed has been marked with challenges; none more difficult than the 2002 loss of co-founder and lead guitarist Michael Houser to pancreatic cancer. Great bands overcome tragedy by bonding together and using it to grow. And that’s just what Widespread Panic has done. Although the years following Houser’s death were trying, the arrival of guitarist Jimmy Herring in late 2006 signaled the dawn of a new era. It wouldn’t happen overnight, with hundreds of songs in rotation and a completely different show every evening it couldn’t, but as we enter 2010 Herring has mastered the band’s vast repertoire and is pushing Panic to new creative heights. While Herring’s unique vocabulary allows the band to explore fresh possibilities, the euphoric feeling of adventure he has instilled reminds bassist Dave Schools of what has always made Panic so special. “It’s like a stagecoach with a pair of horses that are crazy out of control running down a mountainside,” says Schools, “and somehow, the wheels don’t fall off.” Part of what keeps the wheels glued on is the team Widespread Panic has amassed. Beyond the six men on stage, the band’s crew, dubbed “The Home Team,” allows Panic’s rabid fans to experience a unique, world-class concert every night. From lighting designer extraordinaire Paul Hoffman to sound engineer Chris Rabold to the folks back in the office, this is a well-oiled machine, each piece working towards the goal of a transcendent performance. “We’re about 25 people on the road, and then another 10 people in the office,” says JB. “So right now, we’re sitting here with 35 people in the unit and everybody is cooking. And even when we have a new intern, if they’re bringing a spark to the thing, it translates all the way out there to the music.”

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