US Cellular Center
Cedar Rapids, IA
For Porch Songs‘ 26th show release, let’s start off with a bit of history. Way back in 1993, Widespread Panic rolled through the Midwest and performed in Iowa for the first time…intent on continuing to spread their musical message across the country…which was exactly the same mindset these guys had when finding their way out of Athens, GA to points beyond in the mid to late 1980’s. About a decade later, pulling into Cedar Rapids, IA in July of 2002…even amidst the strange combination of tragedy and celebration…the mission was unchanged. With an epic Red Rocks run just now in the rear view mirror and a horizon full of unknown twists and turns ahead, this bus full of travelin’ men still kept their eyes on the road.
Now for the show…JB thanks everyone for coming and reminds everyone to keep on partying…surely referencing Galatic’s opening slot. Jojo starts it off with “One Arm Steve” and gets us all gelled together and moving in the right direction…both literally and figuratively…as the band charges right on into “Pigeons.” Everybody awake? Well, you are now…as “Airplane” gives Mikey a runway for a takeoff jam that just soars. Along the way, Dave shifts gears a bit and we find ourselves watching the “Sleeping Man” and then “Wondering” ‘bout the things we see. Bubbling up from the jam, we get a very solid “Rock” before “This Part of Town” just says it all as plainly as can be…”Where there is love, there is hope!” Mikey’s lyrics take a mountain of life’s experiences and tie them all together in one breath. “Papa’s Home” gives us further perspective as he takes off once again before coming back around to familiar territory and then segueing nicely into “Worry.” As pessimism always gives way to optimism, we find ourselves at the end of well-traveled first set and anticipating what’s to come.
Set two opens up with “Can’t Get High” just before the band collectively slams on the gas with a “Fishwater” that seems to keep on going…Todd and Sunny included. “Can’t Find My Way Home” then hits us head-on with JB’s powerful vocals wrapping around those timeless lyrics. “Blackout Blues” lightens the mood a bit before “Christmas Katie” gives us a jam that lasts all the while and then gives way to that familiar drum beat that sends us, piece by piece, into a full exploration of the underbelly…exposing us to the sublime connective tissue we all crave…for its’ paradoxical melding of the improvisational and the familiar…finally leading us down that other street that’s strewn with “Guilded Splinters.” Raging toward the “Drums,” we remind ourselves it’s always about the journey rather than the destination. In due time, we find ourselves midway through this second set realizing that this show is truly a gift of collective and personal musical perseverance. Sensing a moment in time to truly define, Widespread Panic comes out and finishes the set and brings us all home in fine fashion. To begin with, “Bear’s Gone Fishing” reels us back into the present…and then out there again… with Dave leading the way from the jam. Then capturing our emotions in…of all things…a square of cellophane cheese, ”I’m Not Alone” finds us again in that universe of uncertainty where we always seem to find our sanity within those close to us. Ending the set in true Widespread Panic fashion, “Makes Sense To Me” leaves us asking ourselves if it really does? The answer comes quickly as JB lets us know they’ve always got time for one more, and we find that, yes, it does make sense…that the quintessential sound check which more than withstood the test of time became the perfect encore…”She Caught the Katy.”
A spectacular show in the middle of America with a dialed-in ensemble of band mates and pilgrims…and then the next morning this whole world just wasn’t the same.
Widespread Panic returned once again to Cedar Rapids in 2014, for the first time since that memorable night in 2002…with the intent of spreading their musical message being stronger than ever. And in a song, that a dozen years ago capped off not only that night’s performance but also Mikey’s career on the road, “She Caught the Katy” served as the show opener in 2014…coming full circle back to a spot in time we will never let go of and a well-played life we will never forget. “Tell me Brother can you see the sun….from where you’re standing now?” We all know the answer. We miss you Mikey…
Order your copy of July 2, 2002 – Cedar Rapids, IA
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. So what you’ll occasionally find on these Porch Song recordings is a bit of digital noise, static and maybe even a quick drop out resulting from the onstage recording process and/or the ravages of tape degradation. For this release, we’ve selected a show that’s once again pretty damn clean, but as always, we’ve preserved what we could, doctored up what we’ve been able to, and in this ongoing process, have refused to let a minor blemish or two prevent the spreading of this amazing music. So sit back, settle in and enjoy.
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