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Widespread Panic- Night of Joy 
By Gary Schwind

Iíd like to start this review with a little free association.  Jam band.  What comes to your mind?   A lot of college kids with dreadlocks and tie-dyed shirts playing hacky sack while listening to endless noodling and marathon drum solos.  Right?  Well, maybe.

Widespread Panic provides a lot of what youíd expect from a jam band.  The shortest song on this disc is five and half minutes.  The longest is over seventeen minutes.  No big surprise there.  They do provide a couple drum solos.  And in fact, they give you some noodling.  Although Widespread Panicís noodling sounds more like jazz improvisation than drug-induced jamming done by a band thatís forgotten how a song ends.

However, there are some things you wouldnít expect from a jam band.  John Bellís vocals are considerably raspier than any other jam band vocalist.  John Bell sounds like he gargles with gravel before going onstage, and I donít mean that as a criticism.  Itís pretty cool.  Also, on this album Widespread Panic teams up with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  Maybe thatís not utterly surprising but when was the last time you saw flugelhorn and sousaphone listed on a rock album?

Letís get one thing straight about Widespread Panic.  They do not want to be a next generation Grateful Dead.  That position is already held by Phish anyway.  A better comparison for Widespread Panicís sound is Funkadelic.  This album contains some funky bass lines as well as some psychedelic organ and guitar.  Frankly, Widespread Panic blends the two genres together probably better than any band since Funkadelic.  

If there is one thing this album could use, itís an intermission.  It is a long CD at 78 and a half minutes.  But it is a live album, so the length is forgivable.  Widespread Panic brought a lot of energy to their performance and they have packed this CD with songs that are bound to get your body moving.  I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with this CD because I was expecting just another jam band.  Widespread Panic has shown me that they are not just another jam band. 

CD Info 

Widespread Panic- Night of Joy
Label: Sanctuary
Thought Sausage
Thin Air
Use Me
Bayou Lena
Old Neighborhood
Bust It Big
I Wish
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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