The Palace | Louisville, KY | May 7, 1997
For the 11th Porch Song release, we visit a tour that plays on many different levels. The spring of 1997 not only captured the band when they were on fire, but when the recording decks were as well. Not literally of course, but the tapes that came off the soundboard from that tour are about as solid as they come. And, as the Widespread Panic taping community certainly knows, most of these recordings have circulated for years and have surely played a part in wearing out many sound systems…and ear drums! It only makes sense that a show from this tour take its rightful place as an official Widespread Panic Archive release.
If you’ve never been to the Louisville Palace, you should consider finding a reason…and that won’t be tough to do especially if Widespread Panic returns to this 2,700 seat masterpiece of a venue. Upon entering, all it takes is a long look at the ceiling and you just know you’re in the right place…no doubt about it. And then the music starts…..
To begin the show, we take our time boarding a “Galleon” before quickly diving right into the “Fishwater”. After settling into things for a bit with “Wondering,” we head off to a few selections not normally played mid-first-set…as we dig deep down into a “Barstools and Dreamers” complete with a Thank You jam, followed by the also unexpected “B of D”. After “Blackout Blues” makes its way into “Hatfield,” we get another surprise with a great version of “Let’s Get The Show on the Road”…and then a solid set-ender with “Radio Child”. As usual, by the end of the first set, the band had only started the journey that this night would become.
The second set starts off with a flirtatious “Bowlegged Woman” that always fits no matter where she shows up…and ends up asking the question we all know the answer to…”Ain’t Life Grand”? After a “Walk On” through “Can’t Get High,” we end up boarding a vessel for the sky this time with an “Airplane” that takes us through the rest of our evening’s journey. The take off jam does just that after spending a bit of time on the runway…but once it gets air, it just doesn’t come down for a long time…and when it does, we land at the first ever “Party at Your Mama’s House”. As this new instrumental tune makes its debut, we get the sense of connective tissue with a purpose as it creates a bridge from “Airplane” to “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” that is just sublime. And speaking of “Guilded”, it wasn’t just the same tune in the same spot, but it tied back to the spontaneity of the first set and set up nicely to give way to the “Drums”. “Papa’s Home” then found a sweet spot to lead into a well-placed “Love Tractor” that finished off the trip…but not before we get a nice encore sendoff with “Help Me Somebody” and “Makes Sense to Me”.
After almost a dozen performances at the Palace since this inaugural evening in 1997, it’s apparent this place just casts a spell on all of us…including those six guys on stage. Let’s hope we get to go back to the Palace and find that magic once again.
As always, keep in mind that when listening to these Porch Song releases, what you’re really hearing is a recording of what came through the house speakers the night of the show…so there is no post-show engineering opportunity to dial in each instrument and vocal to perfection as there is with the Widespread Panic Multitrack Releases. What you’ll also find on these Porch Song recordings is the occasional digital noise or static resulting from the onstage recording process and/or the ravages of tape degradation. In this 11th release, we’re stuck with a small spot or two in “Ain’t Life Grand” and “Help Me Somebody” but, as always, we’ve preserved what we could, doctored up what we’ve been able to…and, in this ongoing process, refuse to let a random blemish prevent the spreading of this amazing music. So, sit back, settle in and let this band take you on another incredible journey.
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