PLAY IT LOUD

By Chris Sommovigo

PLAY IT LOUD

Widespread Panic was my wedding band.

Not really (it was really The Bonaventure Quartet gyspy jazz ensemble), however at the venue where my wife and I were married, Widespread Panic was practicing for their show that night in the theater below the ballroom where we got hitched.

In fact the marquee on the outside of the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta switched between messages, so "Congratulations Chris and Mayu!" would swap, on and off, with "Widespread Panic!" - which got a good laugh from everyone who caught it.

But that was hardly my first dose of WP. Back in April of 1998 I was living in Athens, GA when they came to play a free outdoor concert. It was a MADHOUSE of people, ten thousand - maybe more, swarming the streets as they laid down the jamband goodies for hours. I strolled the crowds with my little boxer puppy, Vito, steering him away from the occasional college girl hurling fertilizer into the shrubbery ...

I'm not Mr. Hippie Jam Band, though. These are just coincidences, and you won't find me following Panic, Phish, Leftover Salmon, Avett Bros, et alia ... though I'd be hip to a Medesky, Martin, & Wood show for realz.

So I did a bit of my own noodling around Qobuz and found this, a Widespread Panic studio album from 1999. I gave it a whirl and it's fantastic! I love it. My only recommendation is, for maximum enjoyment, goose that volume knob until the neighbors complain ... then you'll know you've hit the right sound pressure.

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