The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 22, 1991 - Page 9
The night of the living 'spread
Widespread Panic brings Southern-fried rock back to the forefront
My Andrew J. Cahn
The only way to really find out
how tall I am, as Widespread
Panic's frontman John Bell sings on
"Proving Ground," is "by jumping
in the middle of the river."
I guess the Huron doesn't have
the same measuring capacity as the
Chattahoochee waters that flow
down in Georgia, because, like Bell,
* only found out how dry I am.
Nevertheless, I did not lose faith in
the band. By forging together the
Southern virtuosity of the Dixie
Dregs and the communal spirit of
Austin's Poi Dog Pondering, along
with a bit of blues, Widespread
Panic has created something truly
original, much more than just an-
other Athens, Georgia band.
Widespread's multi-themed im-
provisations, such as "Barstools and
Dreamers" and "Pigeons," might
imply a Grateful Dead or Allman
Bros. influence, but according to
drummer Todd Nance, that is not so.
"We used to do a lot of Talking
Head covers and some obscure J. J.
Cale and Van Morrison tunes (such
as the album Widespread Panic's
opener, "Send Your Mind"),"
former home of the Allman
Brothers and the Dixie Dregs shut
down about 15 years ago, but now,
as a subsidiary of Warner Brothers,
Widespread Panic's multi-themed im-
provisations, such as 'Barstools and
Dreamers' and 'Pigeons,' might imply a
Grateful Dead or Allman Bros. influence, but
according to drummer Todd Nance, that is not
so. 'We used to do a lot of Talking Head
covers and some obscure J. J. Cale and Van
Morrison tunes' Nance says, 'but perhaps the
band we covered the most per capita of what
they recorded was Blind Faith'
Nance says, "but perhaps the band
we covered the most per capita of
what they recorded was Blind
While many artists struggle to
be signed onto a major label,
Widespread was chosen to be the
flagship band for the newly re-
formed Capricorn Records. The
the label wants to kindle new inter-
est in Southern rock bands who are
not necessarily country acts.
For its debut album, Widespread
got help from a few Capricorn
folks. One is producer Johnny Sand-
lin, who worked on the Allman
classic Brothers and Sisters. The
other is former Dixie Dregs key-
boardist T Lavitz. The members of
Widespread were paid the ultimate
compliment when Lavitz decided to
stay with the band on the road.
"You decided to keep him?" I
ask, and Nance replies, "It's more
like he let us keep him." Lavitz's
fans will be treated to plenty in a
few months, when the reunited
Dregs will tour with Widespread as
a double-bill show.
Widespread Panic is currently
on tour with Blues Traveler. After
playing shows in upstate New York
this past summer with bands such as
Phish, Spin Doctors and Max Creek,
Widespread has easily established
itself among the mellow, North-
east, retro-'70s-music crowd.
"We weren't going to play if we
could only play to the standard
opener's 45-minute set. In order for
us to say what we want to say, we
would have to be out there for at
least an hour and fifteen minutes,"
Nance says. The audience at St.
Andrew's Hall a few weeks ago,
who were mainly there to see Blues
Traveler, heard Widespread's mes-
sage loud and clear. One unsuspect-
ing concert-goer, after listening to
the intense jam "Space Wrangler,"
said, "I had to feel my arms to make
sure I was still alive." Surely he
was exaggerating, but not by much.
Nance says Widespread will gain
a great deal of exposure on this tour,
but the band is in no rush. The grad-
ual, R.E.M.-like progression is much
more appealing, than the, explode-
and fade method of fame, which has
been exemplified well by bands
such as Winger. "I'm too embar-
rassed to ask why Rod (Mor-
genstien, formerly of the Dixie
Dregs) is even playing with them,"
Nance says. But he won't have to
feel sorry for his hero any longer,
once Widespread hits the road with
the Dregs, along with another
Capricorn act, Bruce Hampton and
the Aquarium Rescue Unit.
"On the nights when we close
the show after Bruce and the
Dregs," says Nance, "there will
have been so much heavy playing, the
people are going to be begging for
Ferron gazes soulfully into the left side of the frame.
soul throughmusic ,"
by Philip Cohen
D ylan, according to the Ferron legend, was one day to be named the
Ferron of the '60s. Fortunately for all concerned, history does not repeat,
itself (as far as we know). One Dylan is, and was, enough.
Ferron took six years off between her last album, Shadows on a Dime,
and the current Phantom Center. She needed to get away from touring and
writing, the story goes, because she was beginning to write songs about be-
ing on the road, and losing touch with real life.
While she was away something happened: the '80s.
Now Ferron brings to Phantom and her current tour a new militancy in
her personal-as-political songwriting, as well as a new sentimentality and
spirituality. Her present efforts show she's been paying attention over'
these six years. '
There's more on the line than her own experience when Ferron sings in
"White Wing Mercy": "I left my father as only daughters can/ I chose to
see him as a monster of a man/ I left my mother in her frameless cage/ But
never could I shake her rage." And beneath the new poppy-produced sound
(no more basement recordings here) her voice is weightier and raspier.
The various collapses of the '80s led a lot of people to write both bit-
terly fatalistic and naively fantastical escapism. The two are expected to go
together: "While human hearts and ozone shatter/ Galactic juries inter-f
The (secular) spiritual healing approach to human destruction risks ro-
manticizing crisis and fleeing human reality - a pitfall which Ferron oc--
casionally visits - but her music is too well-grounded in experience to,,
wisp up and fly away like that in the end. Since her expressions of crisis are
more than romantic, her ritualist incantations emerge upon a base of rele-
vancy which anchors them to real life - exactly where they belong.
FERRON plays tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
are $13.75 in advance at TicketMaster (p.e.s.c.).
at the Ark. Tickets-
Widespread Panic is a only a sightly cheesy system. Meet the Doyz: (left to rignt) Todd Nance, Uomingo Urtiz,
David Schools, John Bell, and Michael Houser. Those Georgia dudes are looking good. Mm-mm.
76 trombones and some heinous uniforms
by Heidi Hedstrom
@5,356 fans filled up Crisler Arena
last Sunday to hear the Michigan
Marching Band. There was a circus-
like atmosphere in which young and
old joined together to support the
Band with claps, cheers and screams.
Maize and blue were the dominant
colors in attire for both the fans and
The dynamic opening of the
concert was led by the percussion
section, with the rest of the Band,
including musicians and the flag
corps, all marching out in the usual
high step fashion. The concert
opened with a celebratory round of
"The Victors" to pay homage to the
Maize and Blue.
Four-year Band member Jennifer
Dorset says, "You love this concert
because you can play to your heart's
content, and you love the kids com-
ing down to dance. It's just the
Marching Band. At the football
games, football is the main attrac-
tion, which is the way it should be.
(The Band concert's) for Band fans
who come to appreciate the musical
Even so, Dorset's favorite aspect
of the Band is playing before the
game. She says, "Pre-games, cheers
of the fans - it's an incredible ex-
perience. A hundred thousand people
screaming. You can hardly hear
Throughout the concert, the Band
displayed its talent as it performed
various songs, ranging from Mo-
town to Aaron Copland to Mi-
chigan's alma mater, "Yellow and
Blue." In a sneak preview for this
Saturday's Michigan vs. Ohio State
game performance, the members
played popular songs from Billy
Joel such as "Tell Her About It"
and "Only the Good Die Young."
Pleasing to both eye and ear, the
Band teamed up with baton twirlers
to perform selections from the
group Chicago. Baton twirlers awed
fans as they threw as many as three
batons at once into the air and
caught them while simultaneously
turning cartwheels and doing leaps.
Different sections of the Band
displayed distinct musical abilities
throughout the performance. In a se-
ries of peppy high notes and trills
which resembled chirping birds, the
piccolo section shined in John
Phillip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes
Forever." The percussion section
had the spotlight at the end, as they
showed rhythmic mastery with
both music and dance in the "Ha-
waiian War Chant."
It was obvious from the success
of the concert that the Band has put
in a lot of work over the past season.
Dorset says that the Band has "one
and a half hours of practice five days
a week, in addition to practices right
before the games." Dorset says she
feels the hard work is worth it. "I
chose Marching Band because I like
the athletic component in addition
to the music," she explains.
Asked what is most challenging
about the marching Band, sopho-
more Lisa Mainieri says, "The most
challenging thing is the physical re-
quirements - for example, the high
step in marching. The time aspect
isn't so bad because you enjoy being
Both Dorset and Mainieri agree
that this season is more difficult
than last year's. "Sectionals have
been intense," explains Dorset.
"The music has been challenging."
"There is a lot of movement in-
volved," Mainieri adds. "There is a
lot of pressure to get the drills per-
fected. Drills are technically harder,
challenging and intricate.
See BAND, Page 11
who what where wh~e
Rod "the Mod" Stewart, the
super stud of the '70s who wrote . z;.
such hits as "Do Ya Think I'mb
Sexy" and "Tonight's the Night,"
comes into the Palace of Auburn
Hills tomorrow through Monday.
Stewart is on his Vagabond Tour .
'91, backing up his latest album,
Vagabond Heart. Tickets are still
available at TicketMaster (p.e.s.c.)
for all three nights, at only $22.50 a,
show. The show starts at 8 p.m.
It don't get much better than
this: FREE LIVE MUSIC, at the
Michigan Theater's 5:01 Concert,
today in the lobby of the Mich at
5:01 p.m. Jazz guitarist Mark
Whitfield will be performing.
VtV VYWI %