JoJo Hermann and His Missing Cats
AJ: Touching on the Melting Point—a lot of the scheduled shows for the Georgia Theatre have moved there [after a tragic fire gutted the famed venue]. I know it’s a favorite venue for some of you guys. What makes a place like that so special and unforgettable?
JH: Well, my first gig with Widespread Panic was at the Georgia Theatre. I remember that pretty well because when I went to go in to play I got thrown out. The doorman is a good friend of the band, and it was my first show. There was a picture of the band, but I wasn’t in it yet, so “One Arm Steve” was at the door and had no idea that Widespread Panic got another keyboard player or anything like that. So when I told him that I was in the band he thought I was jacking him around. He was like, “You’re out of here,” and he just picked me right up and led me right out the door. So that was my first gig and I got a song out of it too. [Laughs.]
AJ: Widespread Panic focused the early part of this summer mostly on festival gigs. What was the reason for this type of tour schedule?
JH: The festivals are a blast. I think we have done most of them now, but they seem to be sprouting up everywhere. We really enjoy the festivals. 10,000 Lakes was fantastic. This was our first time doing Mile High—that was great. Tool really blew it out—they were really fun to watch. We did this one festival in Louisville, which we just loved called Forecastle. That was our first time doing it and we had a great time at that one too. We’d definitely do it again.
AJ: Widespread Panic will be playing the upcoming Voodoo Festival right after the Halloween shows in Austin. Are you excited to be playing in New Orleans again?
JH: It is always great to be playing New Orleans. After our show on Sunday night, I’ll be playing with Ivan and Ian Neville, George Porter and Russell Batiste. We’re doing a benefit at Howlin’ Wolf for the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation. I’m definitely trying to spread the word and have people to come out for that. That is going to be at the Howlin’ Wolf on Sunday, November 1st.
AJ: And do you have your Halloween Costume picked out yet?
JH: I usually don’t pick it out until about 30 minutes before the show—and I grab whatever I can. A friend of ours, Marc Ecko, has a clothing line and he did a Star Wars kind of clothing line. And his assistant brought me a Star Wars Stormtrooper [costume], so that worked out well. It got a little hot in there after 2 hours under the lights but that was a lot of fun. [Laughs.] I hope people give me some ideas.
AJ: Widespread Panic is now beginning a tour with The Allman Brothers Band. Are you excited for those shows? And tell me how you guys are deciding the set schedules—will you be trading off with who opens the shows?
JH: I know we are going to be playing our two-hour thing. It’s not like we’re going on and doing 45 minutes or so. We’re definitely going on first in the northeast. But I just talked to people and they were like, “You’re gonna be doing your two-hour set. It’s going to be a full, packed show.” Like two full shows…
AJ: So, Panic and the Allmans are going to play around 4 hours combined?
JH: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of music, let me tell you. I’m very excited about it. Right in front of me—10 feet in front of me—I am sure there will be times where it’ll be Derek Trucks, Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes all standing there together playing. So I feel pretty fortunate about that.
I think there is going to be a bunch of jamming together. We are really looking forward to it. Then in the South, I think it is more of a flip-flop kind of thing. But in the North, we are going to be going on first. But like I said, we are definitely doing a full two-hour set.
AJ: Is there anything else you want to share about your upcoming tours?
It is going to be a great fall—I am playing a lot of music. And if anyone wants they can come down here and dance to some New Orleans boogie and drink some cheap red wine, then come down and see the Missing Cats [laughs].