Thursday, December 7, 2023

Widespread Panic returns to the pavilion stage this May

John Bell performs at Live Oak Bank Pavilion in 2021 and will return to the venue in May 2022. (Photo by Tom Dorgan, MoonFrog Media)

WILMINGTON — After christening downtown’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion last year as the first national touring band through Riverfront Park, Widespread Panic will post up for three more shows in 2022.

READ MORE: In Photos: Widespread Panic breaks in Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park with three nights of music

On Monday the band announced a three-night performance in Wilmington, slated for May 6-8. The notice comes one week after WSP revealed a Memorial Day weekend run in Huntsville, Alabama. The band is gearing up for three sold-out concerts this week — Feb. 18-20 — in Columbia, South Carolina, followed by March dates in Las Vegas and St. Augustine, Florida.

John “JB” Bell (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Herring (guitar), Dave Schools (bass, vocals), Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz (percussion), Duane Trucks (drums), and John “JoJo” Hermann (keyboards, vocals) spoke with Port City Daily last year ahead of their Wilmington performances. They had just returned to a touring schedule after Covid-19 caused a 16-month hiatus — the longest pause they’ve had from touring in the band’s history.

“We took a year off when Mikey passed away,” Ortiz told PCD. 

Dave Schools performs at Live Oak Bank Pavilion in 2021 and will return to the venue in May 2022. (Photo by Tom Dorgan, MoonFrog Media)

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW: ‘We created monsters’: Widespread Panic percussionist talks 35 years building fanbase, playing Riverfront Park this week

He was referring to Michael Houser, founding WSP member who died from pancreatic cancer in 2002. WSP also lost its founding drummer Todd Nance in August 2020. Both were integral to the band during its first tour through Wilmington in 1991, wherein they played the iconic Mad Monk.

“We spent many nights at the Mad Monk,” Ortiz said last year, adding they continued coming back frequently through the ’90s, to both the Monk and Trask Coliseum. “We had a great time.”

More than 15 years elapsed before WSP returned to the Port City in 2014, as part of the North Carolina Azalea Festival. Another seven years passed before they officially led the charge at downtown Wilmington’s first concert season at the pavilion.

Ortiz hinted last year they wouldn’t wait as long to play for Wilmington fans again. Though the band agreed to get vaccinated to return to touring, Ortiz said they were hesitant to venture far from their inner circle, in order to keep everyone safe from possible Covid-19 exposure. That also meant foregoing area attractions, such as the beach, during their visit.

“I think, come next year — which is what we’re looking forward to because we always want to look to the future — absolutely, we’ll get back to some kind of normal and we can go to the beach and see more of the community,” he said.

Thereafter, the band had to reschedule a handful of 2021 shows — Austin, Napa, Atlanta, and New York — due to the delta and omicron surges. Many are scheduled to take place this summer. 

The band played to over 7,000 fans each night July 16-18, in Wilmington, jamming through 50 or so songs, including 19 covers — Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money” to Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” to Talking Heads “Life During Wartime.”

They also paid tribute to one of their early-day musical inspirations, Bloodkin, whose founder Danny Hutchens passed away from a stroke a few months prior to WSP’s 2021 tour. And WSP reached into the vault to resurrect an oldie, “Happy Child,” which they hadn’t played in 17 years.

Tickets to 2022’s tour through Wilmington go on sale Thursday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. The band lists health and safety protocols for each show on its website, many of which require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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