First New Music from Widespread Panic Since 2015
The Grateful Dead invented the model of a band that could tour without a new album or hit single. Invented and perfected. Since then, most of the groups from the jamband genre have used the Dead’s template… most with great success.
It has been five years since there was new music from Widespread Panic, when they issued Street Dogs in 2015. Now the sextet, another Athens, Georgia, success story, have issue new music. “Sundown Betty” is a new studio track, and the “flip side” (the single is virtual, but image it!) is a live version of “I Swear It Wasn’t Me.”
Singer and guitarist John Bell sets up the release with a video explanation:
As you can tell, I’m a bit nostalgic. I like the old ways, I like the old things, and one of my favorite memories is going to Campus Drug Store in Cleveland, OH — Shaker Heights, OH — and there was a little box next to the cash register that had 45s, singles. A-side, B-Side. Two songs, 75 cents. You’d flip through those and find something that you had heard on the radio and say, ‘Oh yeah, well, I’d like that. I’ll listen to it… a lot, or maybe find something new.’ That was a magical little space, especially when you found something new.
In honor of Halloween, in honor of music, and in honor of nostalgia, we are going to drop a virtual 45 with “Sundown Betty” on the A and “I Swear It Wasn’t Me” on the B.
Well, our songs tend to run long, so it’s a good thing this is a virtual single, ’cause it does exceed three minutes and thirty-three seconds. Happy Halloween everybody, enjoy, stay safe out there and, well… here we go!
“Sundown Betty” has that “Jack” sort of vibe. JB sounds great, and there’s plenty going on over in the Schools zone. The recording, as you would anticipate, is absolute perfection. Drums and percussion are superb, and Jimmy Herring takes a nice, stretched-out solo. This almost approaches jazz fusion in the music.
The recording of “I Swear It Wasn’t Me” from Panic en la Playa 2016. JoJo Hermann’s barrelhouse piano provides a roadmap for where we’re heading. Herring’s bluesy guitar stabs punctuate the proceeding before JB sings words every man, woman, and child has uttered (at least once):
“I swear it wasn’t me,
And I swear I’ll never do it AGAIN!”
They do love them some of that deep blues tradition! Hermann switches to piano for that authentic playing. JB sounds sincere, but… never say NEVER! This one is closer to the truth:
“I swear it wasn’t me, child,
And I promise you might never catch me doin’ it again.”
The songs are available on all standard platforms. Listen to them here on Spotify.