It’s Summer Again, Is It Time for Us to Panic?
Well, it is finally summer again. April's showers and May's flowers are long gone, temperatures are hovering right around the century mark and the Red Sox have all but been eliminated from the AL East race Editor’s note: Hey!]. Everything is just as it should be. Well, maybe not everything. Something is missing this year. Something about this summer just isn't quite the same as the previous 18. For many of us, summer heat means something more than just the rising temperature.
For the first time in almost two decades, our beloved boys of Widespread Panic are not touring. The reality of the break continues to hit me day after day. Spring and early summer has come and gone and the only signs of Panic have been Dave Schools and JoJo playing shows with new bands. What are we Panic fans going to do? For us, summer means it is time to hit the road. It is about catching up with old friends in random parking lots around the country, it is sipping on a tall boy at Red Rocks, it is the reason we are continuously thinking of new excuses to get out of work. I bet more grandparents get sick and more wisdom teeth are pulled in the summer than any other time of the year. For myself and many others nothing goes better with the summer heat than Widespread Panic.
The reality of the break really hit me a couple of months ago while I was driving from Charleston SC to a buddies wedding in Nashville TN. The CD player in my car had been out for a while so I decided to take my wife's vehicle on the eight hour drive. Because my CD player had been broken, I had listened to nothing but the radio for the previous 2 or 3 months. So I grabbed a case full of Panic CDs and I hit the road. The next eight hours flew by. I was taken back to Myrtle Beach in 2000, Indy in 03, and to two of the most amazing and saddest shows I have ever seen, 4/27 and 4/28/02 from Oak Mountain. Driving by myself, I sang loud and I played drums on the steering wheel. I laughed out loud thinking about good times with my friends and was overcome with emotion at times listening to those Oak Mountain shows. I still get chills any time I hear that "Don't Be Denied" or that "Postcard." And it was on that trip to Nashville that reality set in; I knew right then it was going to be a long year.
I am one of those people that honestly have to have several doses of Panic yearly. I imagine a lot of people are the same way. I have come to depend on them in certain ways, just like you depend on your friends and loved ones. Now don't get me wrong, there are many things in life much more important that Widespread Panic concerts, but I do consider Panic to be an important piece of my life. Panic keeps me grounded. They have been there for me over and over again through the years. Different people may come and go but Panic always seems to be there. Like most people, I feel that I have the greatest group of friends in the world. I am also sure that I would not be as close to a lot of these people today if not for Widespread Panic. Panic brought us together and now our true friendship keeps us together. I also believe strongly in the community that Widespread Panic has created. Just like everybody else, we as a community have our flaws, but there are a lot of really great people in this community doing a lot of really great things. Panic and this community bring added happiness to my life that I have not found in other places. Nothing in life is 100% guaranteed but the closest thing I have found to 100% guaranteed is that I will not go to or leave a Panic show without a smile on my face. You can't say that about much in this world.
Is this going to be a long year for Panic fans? The answer to that is definitely yes. It has already been a very long one and it is only July. Should we panic? The answer to that is no, we should not. The guys that make up Widespread Panic deserve this break and they need this break. Those guys have given us their hearts and their souls for almost 18 years straight. I know how I felt when Mikey was sick and the months after his death. I can't imagine how hard it was for those guys. I jumped on board the Panic train in 1995 but I fell off for a couple of years after that. Then at Red Rocks in 97 I got run over and I haven't let go since. This year will be a needed break for us of all. Plus it gives us a chance to recharge and to pay back years of Ticketmaster charges. It also gives us something to look forward to. 2005 is just around the corner and I'll start my annual countdown to the new year. That near year will begin with the announcement and then the return of Widespread Panic.