They’ve broken free of their past, free of their own expectations, free of themselves. The pieces have fallen into place and Widespread Panic is free somehow.

Try as I might, I’ve never really been able to become a big fan of Widespread Panic. I understand the appeal of the style of jamband that they embody — straight-ahead Southern blues rock with room for improvisation — but that appeal never seemed to be something I could grasp on to. I usually land on the electronica based stylings that the Disco Biscuits and STS9 have been leading the charge on for the past few years, as plenty evidenced from our past posts (and the interests of our other team members like Andrew and Whitperson).

Regardless of our tastes, these guys deserve all the coverage they can get on LMB. It’s not like they really need it. These guys have been carrying a flock of hippies with them ever since the demise of the other two majors that carried the scene before them. They never followed in the shadows. They forged their own scene and helped build Bonnaroo to the festival that it is today. And their scene is still kicking after all the recent turmoil that the band had to experience. They’ve got dates booked this Spring and plan to follow those appearances with headlining slots at Rothbury Fest and All Good 2008 (with a slot booked at Jazz Fest, too). They’ve also got a new album out called Free Somehow, which features the track below as the intro to the release:

This being the first release with Jimmy Herring, I’m curious as to what the WSP fans think of this. Is this the classic, “jambands still suck in the studio” disc or is this (traveling) light years ahead of what other bands are doing in the genre? Should they just stick to headlining festivals or what? Anyone hitting any dates on the upcoming tour? Let us know, ya’ll — and read on for the tour dates.

Widespread Panic | Spring 2008 Tour Dates

4/1
Warner Theatre
Washington, DC

4/4 – 4/5
United Palace
New York, NY

4/6
Palace Theatre
Albany, NY

4/9
US Bank Arena
Cincinnati, OH

4/11 – 4/13
Auditorium Theatre
Chicago, IL

4/15
SIU Arena
Carbondale, IL

4/16
Murphy Center
Murfreesboro, TN

4/18 – 4/20
The Amphitheater @ The Wharf
Orange Beach, AL

4/22 – 4/23
Johnny Mercer Theatre
Savannah, GA

4/25 – 4/26
Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Raleigh, NC

4/27
Landmark Theatre
Richmond, VA

4/29
Township Auditorium
Columbia, SC

5/1
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans, LA

5/2
Showgrounds @ Sam Houston
Houston, TX

5/3
Nokia Theatre
Dallas, TX