Widespread Panic Returns to Colorado
After celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a long, full year of touring, Widespread Panic is taking a break. This does not appear to be the end of Widespread Panic, but more of an open-ended hiatus. Before their time off begins, however, they are playing a very interesting run of shows. On January 24th, 2012 they will set out on a 4-city, 11-date, mini tour of 100% acoustic shows, dubbed the Wood Tour. The Wood Tour will begin on the East Coast with multi night stops at the Fillmore in Silver Springs, MD and the Tabernacle Theatre in Atlanta, GA. The band then takes a detour to play 4 nights in La Playa, Mexico for a first of its kind, all-inclusive resort run of shows, before resuming the remainder of the Wood Tour shows in Colorado.
As you can imagine, since there will only be four stops on this limited tour, the Colorado Panic fan base was absolutely ecstatic to find out that the Denver Fillmore would be hosting a three night run on the Wood Tour. Not only that, but then the very next weekend the band will also play three intimate shows at the tiny and infamous Belly Up in Aspen, CO.
Having Widespread Panic come back to Colorado to play an acoustic tour seems poetic in its own way. Colorado was after all, the setting of the majority of the shows during the epic Sit n Ski tour of 1996. This somewhat acoustic tour traveled throughout the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, playing in or on the way to many ski towns. This tour is still considered to hold some of the most magical Widespread Panic moments and memories for those fans that were there.Widespread Panic and Colorado have a long and happy history together. According to (Ted Rockwell of) the Everyday Companion, a source book of Widespread Panic statistics, this Fillmore run marks the 152nd time the band has played in Colorado. Widespread Panic first played in Colorado back in 1990 at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon in Telluride, and over the years has been welcomed back at many of Colorado’s local venues and festivals. The big ones that come to mind over the years are, the One World Festival in Crested Butte in 1998, Aspen Harmony Festival in Aspen, CO in 1999, the two night run in Larkspur, CO in 2001, not to mention their long standing history of playing the third weekend in June at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.
Widespread Panic has more sold out Red Rocks shows than any other band, a whopping 38 shows in a row. Aside from the last time they took a hiatus (2004), and the summer of 2009 when the played the Mile High Festival, they have played to a sold out crowd, at Red Rocks Amphitheater on the third weekend of June, since 1997. In fact, in 2008 then Mayor, John Hickenlooper honored the band on stage by declaring June 27, 2008 as Widespread Panic Day in the Mile High City. For Colorado fans and for those traveling from across the country, the Red Rocks shows are a yearly tradition, or vacation to spend with friends from all around the country. For this, Colorado fans greatly appreciate Widespread Panic, and continue to welcome them with open arms, year after year.
The fans feel gratitude reciprocally from the band as well. Widespread Panic traditionally plays very special, rare original and cover songs, or treats at Red Rocks, or other shows in Colorado such as the last time they played the Fillmore, or the two night run they did in Loveland, Colorado. Special treats include rarities such as a version of the Grateful Dead’s (Walk Me Out in the) Morning Dew at Red Rocks in 2007. Another treat occurred at Red Rocks last summer (June 2011) when the band played an entire Sunday afternoon show consisting of nothing but cover songs. Therefore, when people ask, why do you attend so many Widespread Panic shows? Well, this is it. It’s always a surprise, it’s always a good time, and it’s always with your best friends.The appreciation by the band is sometimes felt in more subtle ways here in Colorado. Such was true the day the Wood Tour tickets went on sale in Denver. According to the fans I spoke with, there were an estimated 50 people in line just before 10am, steadily arriving since the early morning hours outside of the Fillmore in Denver. These fans patiently stood in line, hopeful and nervously waiting to purchase their tickets. According to several fans who were in line that morning, just moments before the ticket sales opened, a staff member from the Fillmore announced that a spokesperson for the band had contacted the Fillmore to ask them to be sure to take care of everyone waiting in line for tickets. Although it is not confirmed, according to some folks in line that day, everyone who was at the venue got the tickets they came for. Since the Fillmore is very small venue, with a capacity of about 3700 people, the band also agreed to use a process of paperless tickets for this special event, in order to deter scalpers from taking up all of the tickets. This is true fan appreciation that I have never seen before. Colorado loves Widespread Panic, and they seem to love Colorado right back.
Aside from bringing great music to the cities they play in, Widespread Panic has also been known to give back to the local communities they play in, through their generous contributions to various charities around the country. According to the Tickets for Charity website, the allotted number of Wood Tour tickets raised over $33,000 to support some of the world’s most respected charities including Tunes for Tots to help promote music and arts education in public schools and Feeding America, America’s FoodBank network.
Colorado Panic fans who were lucky enough to get tickets to these sold out shows, are all looking forward to this very special three nights run at the Fillmore in Denver, as well as the very small shows at the Belly Up in Aspen. Widespread Panic’s Wood Tour starts in Silver Springs, MD on January 24th and makes its way to Denver on Feb 10th, then finishing up the tour at the Belly Up in Aspen on February 19th. Look for a photo essay and follow-up review of the Fillmore shows..