Live On The Bridge


Widespread Panic

Athens, Georgia Southern rock band, Widespread Panic performs a few songs and is interviewed by Jon Hart here at KCPT.

AIRED: February 02, 2019 | 0:26:48

["Blue Indian" By Widespread Panic]

♪ Well now, Pappy left a chair like he's still sittin' there ♪

♪ Once I almost saw him make his move ♪

♪ Brave Indian who never changes his mood ♪

♪ In a painting on the wall right there ♪

♪ Tell me, how long do I have to wait ♪

♪ Oh, tell me how long, how long 'til the medicine takes ♪

♪ Oh, now there's Sally buffalo in the apartment just below ♪

♪ Just a-bein' without a care

♪ Oh, children from my brood they come and bring me food ♪

♪ Maybe open up a window for air ♪

♪ Oh, just now I smell the cornbread bake ♪

♪ Oh, now, now, now I feel the medicine take ♪

♪ It's just like

♪ Ain't it just like home

♪ Ooh, where the little stray dogs go through it all ♪

♪ We're still right here, still just here ♪

♪ My brave little friends

♪ La, na, na, na, na

♪ La, na, na, na, na, na

♪ La, na, da, na, da

♪ Mm, da

♪ Oh, da, da

♪ Well, we got a party goin' on many spirits strong ♪

♪ Ain't no preacher just a happy to meet ya ♪

♪ Half a bottle 'neath the bed keep our spirits fed ♪

♪ My hat's off to you and to you and you ♪

♪ And all our brave friends, too ♪

♪ Dancing circles through the room ♪

♪ And a broom and a radio, the dip and now the dos-e-do ♪

♪ Brand new day, the whole world's goin' ♪

♪ Whole room's goin' so

♪ Just now, don't hesitate

♪ Oh, taste the sweet, sweet morning break ♪

♪ Now, so sweet like a young honeycomb ♪

♪ Oh, now, now, now just like home ♪

♪ Ain't it just like

♪ Well, it's just like home

♪ Ooh

♪ Where the little stray ones go ♪

♪ I'm gonna sit back here against this tree ♪

♪ And rest my bones

♪ Oh, sink slowly like a fresh skipped stone ♪

♪ Into it all

♪ You're still right here

♪ Oh, still just here

♪ Still right here, my brave, little friend ♪

- [Announcer] Live on The Bridge

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- This is a very special day here at The Bridge,

as we have Widespread Panic in the studio

on the heels of their 12th studio album, Street Dogs.

Widespread Panic represented today by JB, John Bell,

and Domingo Ortiz, Sunny, 'cause of his smile.

Thanks so much for coming in, guys.

Really appreciate it.

- No problem.

- Thanks for having us.

- It's such an interesting thing.

You've worked with the same producer,

John Keane, for a long time.

One of the things that you did

was you did some recoding over at Echo Mountain Studios,

which is essentially a redone church?

- Yep.

And that was so we could all be in the same room together,

again, helping out the live performance.

And they have it so you can have enough isolation

between instruments that not so much bleed in

among all the microphones.

- So when we go see you live,

you're all kind lined up facing us,

but when you're recording,

you're sort of setting up in a circle.

- We set up in a circle, yeah.

You know, John Keane has been with us

every since the very beginning of space wrangler, '88.

It was the inevitable thing for him

to join us in the studio.

And yeah, in the studio environment,

you set up what's comfortable for us

so that we can communicate visually with one another.

And like JB had said, it's all about that live performance.

- Sometimes when the crowd

at a Panic show really gets going,

you almost feel like the entire audience

is one massive organism that's just sort of riding waves.

It's gotta be so cool to stand on the stage

and look out and see people responding like that en masse.

- Well, one can only hope.


- It's a two-way street, believe me.

We're grooving the same way that they are.

It's like a big wave, you know?

- Your parents bought you your first drum kit.

And as soon as they bought you the first drum kit,

they immediately picked up the phone

and called your uncle who's a musician

and said do not have him play in your band.

- Pretty much, yeah.


When I got my first drum set, I tore it up.

I just wanted to retro it.

It was just a nice little cheap, three-piece set.

There were some accessories that I wanted,

of course, and I couldn't get,

so I just made 'em up myself, like a tilter for the cymbal

and little things like that.

But yeah, my uncle is the one that got me involved

in the music business at quite an early age.

- So your uncle almost immediately said

I want you to play in my band.

And your parents said no until they found out

how much money he was gonna pay you.

- Well, yeah.

Pretty much it.

(all laugh)

What can I say?

I was an aspiring teenager that just had an empty summer,

and I wanted to have a part-time job.

- So much better than painting houses.

- Yeah, yeah.

- You always hear about musicians moving to Austin,

but you moved from Austin to Athens.

- [Sunny] Yeah, you know--

- That was a long time ago.

- Well, I had a very good friend

that I knew in '69 in Texas.

We played in different bands together in Texas.

And then in '75, he moved to Athens, Georgia,

and we still kept in contact the old school way.

Phone calls, long distance,

and letters, you know, snail mail.

And he owned a club in Athens, Georgia.

He said man, you gotta check out this Athens scene.

At the time, I was living in Austin from '75 to '86,

so I was having a great time playing

with some hot musicians in a hot town

where the music scene was vibrant.

After a while, I was going like yeah,

I wanna check the Athens, Georgia scene.

So I moved to Georgia and hooked up with the Panic boys.

- Yeah, the first thing you came into town.

- Yeah, October 6th, 1986.


- So the first night in town,

you hooked up with Widespread Panic.

This does not happen to people, right?

- I know

You know, it's fate and that's

what I tell people every day,

'cause you just never know when it's gonna drop

and you just gotta take full advantage of the situation.

Because you know, I had been driving 16 hours

and my buddy said man, there's this hot band

that's playing tonight in my club.

You need to stick around.

And I'm kinda like man,

I just drove like 16 hours from Texas.

I wanna go to sleep.

So he says nah, you gotta stay up.

You gotta stay awake.

So we had a nice dinner with his family,

and then around 10 o'clock we went down to the club

and they were performing.

And I didn't know from Adam, and my buddy said hey,

yeah, my buddy just drove in from Texas.

You should let him sit in, and then bam, you know?

- There it was. - There it was.


- I wanna circle back around to the baseball

thing for just a second, John.

I know you have made a suggestion to Major League Baseball

that they have a designated hippie night.

You remember this?

- (laughs) I say a lot of stuff.

(audience laughs)

- [Host] Do you want me to refresh your memory?

- You got something there?

- Yeah, I do. (laughs)

You asked Major League Baseball

to do a designated hippie night,

and the concept is that it's a night game,

but they turn the lights off.

- Oh, all the glow in the dark stuff.

- Yeah, glow in the dark hats,

glow in the dark bats, glow in the dark balls,

glow in the dark shoes.

- That would be cool, wouldn't it?

- It would be cool.

We'd love to hear another song if we could.

- All right.

["Radio Child" By Widespread Panic]

♪ Always been the radio's child ♪

♪ Quick-to-smile precious baby

♪ Search the dial and testify

♪ Turn a tight little corner back in the mirror ♪

♪ Radio boys trying on all their moves ♪

♪ Search the dial and electrify ♪

♪ Radio's playing in your sleep ♪

♪ Prophet waiting in your car

♪ Over and over in the life of a radio child ♪

♪ Oh, rhymes cheating keeping time ♪

♪ Eyes stretching across the stars ♪

♪ Over and over in the life of a radio child ♪

♪ Yeah, a radio child

♪ And the radios laugh like all their friends ♪

♪ Telling tales the old folks know so well ♪

♪ Like an old guitar plays a lullaby ♪

♪ A radio's playing in your sleep ♪

♪ Prophet waiting in your car

♪ Over and over in the life of a radio child ♪

♪ Oh now, rhymes keeping time

♪ Eyes searching across the stars ♪

♪ Over and over in the life of a radio child ♪

♪ Yeah radio child

♪ Oh, precious baby

♪ Yeah, precious baby

- The new album is called Street Dogs.

It's their 12th studio album.

Now I read something.

You're gonna have to help me out here.

Is it true that you have 12 studio albums,

but 43 live albums?

- That came as news to me when somebody said that.

- [Host] Yeah.

- Yeah, and there are different kinds of studio albums.

- I mean, it could actually be bigger than that,

because you actually sell shows the next day online.

- Yeah, every show, it's available.

And now they're streaming things immediately,

so you can listen to it.

The kids call 'em couch tours or something like that.

(host laughs)

But yeah, we've got some younger cats in the group

in the organization that keep up with the technology for us.

- You know, you have been on the road for 30 years.

- That I knew. (laughs) (audience laughs)

- And often playing over 200 shows a year.

You guys have totally been Road Dogs.

You guys sort of made an announcement lately

that you're gonna pull back on some of the long tours,

and maybe just do the occasional

big show, the occasional event.

And for lack of a better phrase,

it set off some, wait for it,

widespread panic among your fans.

- We never really know what's gonna happen, you know?

- So you announced you were gonna stop

just to get us all aflutter? (laughs)

- No, no, no.

And we did it so gracefully.

Our agent decided to use the term

that we weren't gonna tour anymore,

and in his traditional we aren't gonna go

lug it out for six to eight weeks at a time anymore.

At least that's not our plan.

But we're gonna be as available as needs be.

- After 30 years of doing this,

I'm sure that you've had the opportunity

to look back the very early days.

The early shows, a buck a head.

- Mm-hmm.

- And the story goes that you were

really hesitant to increase.

You were having a lot of success,

but you didn't wanna ask people for two bucks,

'cause you just thought that that was too much.

- We thought that was gouging. (laughs)

- You know, back in the early days

it was 75 cents to get in, a dollar long necks

at the Uptown Lounge in Athens, Georgia.

Yeah, you know, anything to bring the masses in

was the whole concept at the very beginning.

- So they did talk you into a buck fifty. (laughs)

- Well, do you know-- - It was tough.

- Yeah, I believe you there.


- I remember the--

- Well, let me take it from here. (laughs)

'Cause I don't know if you guys are familiar with our music,

but there's a song that JoJo wrote called One Arm Steve.

And it was from the first time

JoJo was playing a gig with us,

and One Arm Steve was the doorman/bouncer,

and he only had one arm.

And he threw JoJo out of the club.

And his reasoning was that his face wasn't on our poster.

(host laughs)

So they became friends after that.

But if you look into the lyrics of that song,

you'll see that whole event played out in the song.

But we did say okay, we'll go for 1.50, not the two bucks.

And after that night when we were getting paid,

Steve, he just looked at us.

Please go to $2, 'cause it was just hell

trying to make change with the one hand.

(host chuckles)

So we played one night at a buck fifty.

And then for his sake, we went to two bucks.

(all chuckle)

- Yeah, you don't get a raise

just by having a one-armed guy around.

That's pretty good.

You talk about some of the bigger shows,

the traditional shows, and even we mentioned the streaming.

The routing is often Kansas City to Red Rocks,

and you're gonna be playing Red Rocks

the 24th through the 26th with

a live webcast of all three nights.

- Yeah.

- [Host] So that's a pretty immediate example.

- Yeah, we were surprised too that they wanted

to do all three nights, you know?

- Usually it's just one night.

- Well, it's not like you guys have a record

of success at Red Rocks or anything.

You've only done 48 sold out shows there.

- Well, again, it's technology that just kinda...

Luckily it happens all the time,

so we're not too freaked out

by the cameras and stuff like that.

The self awareness is gone.

- When you do three shows in a row like that,

you know people travel to follow

you around and see these shows.

You're really religious about not sticking

to the same playlist, and in fact

going back three or four days

before you'll play a song again.

- Yeah, but that's for our sanity as much as anything else.

'Cause if we were playing the same stuff,

then it'd kinda just be an act more than just

jump in there and start performing kinda thing.

- I do wanna just quickly touch on one other thing.

You and your wife have a thing going.

- We've had a thing going, yeah. (laughs)

- Well, you have a thing going

that's bigger than a lot of couples have a thing going.

You've got the Cedar Heights Center happening.

And is the website.

And your wife does all kinds of counseling and things there,

but also you have a room with zero gravity chairs

and an energy enhancement system

that I've been reading about for years

and still trying to figure out.

- Oh, have you really? - Yeah.

- That's good.

Then you probably know more about it than I do.

- Well, there are like 16 computer screens

and they do something.

- It's a very quantum physic-y, Star Trek-y kinda thing.

But the short story is they are creating a bioactive field

in their interaction with each other.

They're very specifically placed.

And that resonates through your body on a cellular level.

It works on all kinds of things,

old injuries and thought patterns.

- Does it unleash the creativity in you?

Do you work in there?

- Oh yeah.

I go in there after dinner every night, yeah.

And I'll go check my emails in the morning.

Any excuse.

You know, it's a lounge chair. (laughs)

(host laughs)

No, baby, I'm meditating.

(audience laughs)

- (laughs) That is great.

And people can book this room at

I also wanna throw out just real quickly

a quick plug for something that Sunny is involved with.

He raises funds for Drumming for Success youth program

through a program that he has called Beat the Drum,

which is essentially like the world's greatest drum circle.

- Yeah, it's pretty fun to do.

Dr. Arvin Scott, he teaches at the UGA,

University of Georgia, Drum School.

And he and I get together.

It's mostly his program, but I just kinda

pitch in wherever I can and get some folks involved.

And then the funds go to kids who set goals

and stay out of trouble.

And they receive a drum after achieving certain goals.

- Yeah, John Bell, Sunny Ortiz in our studios

today here at The Bridge, and we'd love

to hear one more song if we could.

- Here we go.

["Old Joe" By Widespread Panic]

♪ Well, Old Joe, he moves slow

♪ He likes to look at things and paint pictures on his radio ♪

♪ He says they make the songs look better. ♪

♪ Well now, one day, Joe met a girl ♪

♪ A sweet breathing thing

♪ Dancin' naked, nudie, in the winter snow ♪

♪ Underneath her dozen sweaters ♪

♪ And someday, somewhere

♪ Some things get hit by lighting ♪

♪ Oh, and some things just don't ♪

♪ May you live long and lucky

♪ And one thing's for sure

♪ Or maybe it isn't

♪ That no matter where we are

♪ It's this life that we're livin' ♪

♪ Often one thing's for sure

♪ Or maybe it isn't

♪ That no matter who we are

♪ It's this life that we're given ♪

♪ And someday, somewhere

♪ Ooh, some things get hit by lighting ♪

♪ Aw, and some things just don't ♪

♪ Hope you live long and lucky

♪ Well old Joe, he moved slow

♪ He liked to look at things

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(audience applauds) - Thank you, guys.


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