Widespread Panic All Good 2010: This was my first real experience understanding what Widespread Panic was all about. I had seen them previously at All Good 2008 but I wasn't quite sure what to think, I didn't even understand what was going on honestly. Those were the young days though and in 2010, I fully absorbed what Widespread Panic could do and I became enamored with the endless jam possibilities that this band could come up with. This is where my real love for Widespread Panic came about, not only just because they're an amazing band and Derek Trucks added such an explosive element but because something happened at the show, little events, little occurrences that kept happening that made me think that I was destined to be there, serendipity again at my door. We all have these moments, where we feel we're at the right place at the right time, even if that is a little overwhelming and scary, they can still be a life-changing experience. I sat on the hill at All Good blown away completely: eyes wide, mouth hanging. As they played "Tall Boy" some young guy in front of me was writhing on the ground like a snake "looking for a place to shed his skin" and that act was reverberated through the song "Second Skin" when I felt that the person in front of me had now became someone new as he seemed rejuvenated and danced in a reptilian frenzy. As they played "Sleeping Man" the young snake in front of me had passed out completely, as I watched him. I became each song and lived their entirety out in real life. I thought these occurrences were just a little strange and they always stuck with me. When someone released hundreds of Chinese lanterns into the sky at set break, I can honestly say I almost cried out loud at such a beautiful site but some of the lanterns kept falling back into the crowd and burning people's hair and it seemed dangerous, beautiful but really dangerous, as most things are. Someone had just disbursed Chinese lanterns throughout the crowd and random people were sending them into the air. As hundreds or what seemed like thousands of lanterns floated away, I gawked in amazement and even the band came out onstage to see the lanterns blow away, likely into a poor farmers yard somewhere in West Virginia. When the band finished their encore, fireworks streamed from the back of the stage and I again was blown away at the magnificence of the display. All in all the show not only change my life but it was just freaking awesome. Derek Trucks and Widespread Panic together are unstoppable. This show is classic to any jam music fan and let me tell you what... I will never forget it.
Dweezil Zappa in Richmond: (Ride My Face To Virginia)
Another phenomenal performance from Dweezil and the gang last night, I am still buzzing off the music and getting to meet the band after the show. I guess I should start at the beginning of the concert with a few songs off the “Freak Out!” album, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While “Freak Out!” is certainly not my favorite album, by any means, I fully see the merit and importance of this seminal work. 50 years ago this album was very ahead of its time and as Dweezil said last night, “It is still very ahead of its time.” The youthful influences of Frank Zappa can be heard in “Freak Out!” From his 50s-60s pop music satire, to heavy-abstract chord structures, all rolled into a strange and dissonant package.
The show really starts with “Inca Roads” for me, the band always plays this one when I see them live. It is my favorite Zappa song and I welcome it at any time,I just truly wish there was a marimba player, really missing Ruth when they play this one. “Black Napkins” always gets me going and when they transition straight into “Montana” I will not complain. I am still coming to terms with the new members of the band, after losing one of the original members of ZPZ, Dweezil replaced him with two new members who are still working on their sound and stage presence. The new chick singing was a little bit shrill and should not be singing some of the vocal parts, especially during "Zomby Woof” She seemed a little over enthusiastic, if you ask me...
Dweezil Zappa is a phenomenal guitar virtuoso and still holds up as one of the greatest live guitarist I have ever seen. His inclusion of Arabic and Middle Eastern scales and chord structures brings another level of genius to Frank's music. Someone in the crowd yelled, "Play whatever you want” and Dweezil responded with "I will play whatever the fuck I want." This is when Dweezil began his Zappa Family Trust spiel and I always get negative vibes when it is brought up. One of the new things that he had not mentioned previously, was that he is starting a campaign called “Dweezil Zappa and the Others of Intention” where you can donate to his cause. This makes a lot more sense now that I understand he is trying to gain support and monies to fight the battle. I support you Dweezil and I will be joining the "Others of Intention" as well.
The show started to pick up speed with some of the classics from "Joe's Garage" but having two female members in this band seemed a little strange to me, especially during songs like, “Keep it Greasy” or “Wet T-Shirt Nite.” I can see the reason for having two female members, possibly to broaden the audience inclusion, draw a more diverse and larger crowd but some of the songs are so male-centric, it's hard to get around a woman yelling about “Rump Relief” or "Big Wet Tits"...unless it's Scheila, we all love her.
Dweezil shows are all about the performance, there is really no light show, just overhead-cans shining down on the band. “Watermelon in Easter Hay,” Dweezil's favorite Frank song, was very, as Dweezil put it, “Emotional and Draining.” The band changed the lyrics of “Ride My Face To Chicago” and added “Ride My Face to Virginia” instead. The night concluded with an shred-tastic, “Muffin Man,” reminiscent of 77 Live.
I stayed after the show to meet the band and have my poster signed. Meeting Dweezil was an amazing experience and as a guitarist, I have been watching his YouTube lessons and I got to personally ask him about his economy picking style, something I have yet to master. Dweezil reassuringly responded, "You will get it man.” Needless to say, I was Fan-boy status after that. As I continued down the line to get more signatures Scheila Gonzalez herself commented to me, "Dude, I can't believe you knew every word to the songs tonight!" She seemed honestly shocked and I didn't know she could see me singing along up there. I responded, "Yeah, I'm just waiting to sing Captain Beefheart with you guys!" My night was made and I cannot wait for the next show, perhaps they will even call me up for “Deborah Kadabra” or another Frank/Beefheart Classic… A man can dream. Blown Away!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.