[image-1]Just over a week ago, Athens, Ga., rock band Widespread Panic embarked on their busy spring 2008 tour, kicking of with performances in Washington, D.C. The closest gigs to Charleston include a sold-out two-nighter at Savannah’s Johnny Mercer Theatre on Tues. April 22 and Wed. April 23. Tickets are still on sale for the Walnut Creek Amphitheater show in Raleigh on Fri. Apr. 25 and the Township Auditorium gig in Columbia on Tues. Apr. 29. Visit www.ticketmaster.com for ticket info.

City Paper staffer John Zara had this to say about Panic’s latest collection, Free Somehow:

“Don’t expect to hear classic Panic on this studio album, just the evolution of Widespread Panic (and that isn’t a bad thing). Well-known as a live performance powerhouse on the jam scene, Panic “road-tests” much of their material, leaving little to the imagination when studio albums are released. With the exception of a few tracks, Free Somehow includes a slew of never-before- heard songs.

[image-2]”For their tenth studio effort, Panic gets help from producer Terry Manning (Led Zeppelin, Al Green). The collection is book-ended by upbeat, rock riffs from the new-ish band member, guitarist Jimmy Herring, starting with ‘Boom, Boom, Boom’ and ending with the first single, ‘Up All Night.’ In-between is where the album takes an unexpected turn. ‘Dark Day Program’ and ‘Three Candles’ let lead vocalist, John ‘J.B.’ Bell, soulfully explore a more solemn side. The emotional “Walk on the Flood” takes a lyrically candid look at Hurricane Katrina, while the surprise of the album comes near the end. ‘Her Dance Needs Nobody’ clocks in at nearly nine minutes in length, showing off strong Herring solos. This track is quite dynamic, incorporating orchestral-like movements, lending itself an interesting listen.”

Free Somehow, was released on vinyl Apr. 15. More information regarding tickets, merchandise, and band news is available at www.widespreadpanic.com.

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