Monday, April 16, 2007


Rob writes:

Georgia-based jamband-superstars Widespread Panic played a recent Saturday night show over in Huntsville, Alabama. This is a band that I've seen probably 25 or 30 times and have been listening to for about 15 years, and since the show was on a weekend (a rarity in this isolated part of the country), I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a night of good times, grooving and shaking. My good friend Britt Hester, a local music fan and Panic veteran, made the 3-hour drive from Tupelo with me.

The Von Braun Center, where the Widespread Panic concert took place.

Huntsville, Alabama, known as the Silicon Valley of the South, is quite a booming city these days. Set right at the tail end of the Appalachian mountains, it is home to the NASA Space and Rocket Center as well as the US Army Missile Command. There is a large number of defense-related high technology companies in the area, and our hotel was right next to the Space and Rocket visitor center. This was the view outside our hotel window.

The Panic show was excellent, one of the best Panic shows I've seen in 7 or 8 years. A couple things that really stood out for me:

1. Old-school setlist! Except for 2 songs (Flicker, Bust It Big), the setlist completely avoided any material from the past 7 or 8 years, and could have been played in 1998 or 99 (the glory-days of Widespread Panic, in my humble opinion). Quite a few of my favorite songs got played. Maybe it had something to do with it being lead singer John Bell's 45th birthday?

2. New guitarist Jimmy Herring was on fire! Last fall when I first started hearing recordings of Panic w/ Herring, I was a little skeptical. I just wasn't used to hearing Panic with that style of guitarist. Actually I'm still in the process of adjustment, but I can say with certainty that the Jimmy Herring fans can no longer complain about Jimmy "holding back" with Panic. He was just ~shredding~ for extended periods; as the show went on, he just got more and more amped up, and his most blazing work might have been during the encore, in the jam that led from the War cover "Low Rider" to the Talking Heads ballad "Heaven".

Jimmy Herring

3. Finally, Panic has ditched the Grateful Dead-style "Drums" break in the middle of the 2nd set, which I'd been hoping would happen for years. I never liked the way "Drums" disrupted the energy and flow of the 2nd set. (I didn't mind it with GD for some reason) Instead, they now have several "mini-Drums" breaks throughout the 2nd set, usually 3-4 minutes, during which none of the band members leave the stage. Much better!

4. Highlight of the show for me was the late 2nd set "Airplane", a song I hadn't heard live since original guitarist Mikey Houser's passing more than 5 years ago. I'd never heard it without Mikey singing, but naturally, JB handled it just fine and sounded like he'd been doing it for years. And just like in the old days, the jam out of "Airplane" was EPIC, with multiple peaks back-and-forth between Herring and JoJo (making it extra-funky on the clavinet).

5. Another highlight was the "Electric Funeral" jam that led out of "Mercy" - a Black Sabbath cover (sans vocals) that took the band into unusual territory - dark and haunting - before building in intensity and finally shifting gears into a balls-to-the-wall cover of NRBQ's "Flat Foot Flewzy".

Here's the complete setlist:

Von Braun Civic Center
Huntsville, AL

Set 1:
Holden Oversoul >
Stop-Go >
Walkin' (For Your Love)
Diner >
C. Brown
All Time Low
Chainsaw City

Set 2:
One Arm Steve >
(mini-drums) >
Bust It Big (w/ mini-drums)
Mercy >
Electric Funeral jam >
Flat Foot Flewzy
Surprise Valley (w/ mini-drums) >
Airplane >
Space Wrangler

Low Rider >
Low Spark tease >

As of this writing there are already a couple bit-torrent copies of the show available for download:

http://bt.etree. org/details. php?id=505895
http://bt.etree. org/details. php?id=505902

Back to main page

SPRING BREAK 2007 - Destin, Florida

That's right, we celebrate spring break these days! With Rob working at the high school (and Carley's mom at an elementary school), we take off whenever the kids are out of school. This is definitely one of the better perks in our new lifestyle. :-)

For spring break this year, we decided on a favorite among the locals and made the 7-hour drive south to the beach in Destin, Florida.

Destin is in the northwest part of Florida, way out on the Panhandle, a region that is closer both geographically and culturally to Alabama and Mississippi than it is to some other regions of Florida. Indeed, there were plenty of license plates from those states, as well as from Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and even from as far away as Missouri and Texas. A friend of Rob's from out west even joked about Destin as the "Redneck Riviera", though most people claim that the real "Redneck Riviera" is 60 miles further west in Gulf Shores, Alabama. In fact, Destin is also commonly known as the "Emarald Coast" (due to its emerald-colored waters and sugar-white sand beaches) and "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village" (since it was a tiny fishing village only a generation ago).

The beach is superb in the Destin area, and the vibe is generally upscale, with lots of high-end condos, resorts, shopping and restaurants spread out over what were probably pristine rural beaches and woodlands less than 30 years ago. The beaches aren't too crowded this time of year, since the climate isn't quite so tropical here. During our stay the cloudy and windy conditions kept us mostly out of the water and off the beach.

At least the pool was heated!

We stayed with Carley's family in a nice condo outside of Destin, on Santa Rosa Beach. In the photo above, you can see Carley's brother and some friends on our 4th-floor balcony of the building behind Carley and her mom.

The best part of the beach stay was getting to see Carley's brother Barrett (who is in grad school in Orlando) and spending time together as a family.

Back to Main Page

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Rowan's first cereal and spoon experience. (He's not quite ready for Mexican food yet.)

He can hold his own bottle now!

A stroll through our new neighborhood.

Rowan's first friend, Lucas! Plus our new friends Emily and Todd, both journalists with the main newspaper in the area.

Daddy's got a secret for Rowan.

ROWAN FOR PRESIDENT! ("I am not a crook!")


Rowan says, "I can sit up all by myself now, and I like to smile a lot...though not all the time! I still can't crawl, but I'm starting to move around a little bit by rolling over and over again. Soon they'll have to lock me up in a playpen or something!"


"Oooh! What's this?"

"Hmmm. Looks like a dead magnolia leaf."

"I wonder how it tastes?"

Repeat this process for any object discovered lying anywhere.


Rowan is ready to party!

Rowan and his new pals, learning about sharing.


Rowan figured out how to blow his own bubbles!

Return to main page