John Bell and Friends Perform at 15th Annual Hannah’s Buddies Event
Widespread Panic guitarist John Bell performed at the annual Hannah’s Buddies event held at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL last night. The charity concert is designed to raise money in the fight against Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease that affects betwen 1 in 6,000 and 1 in 20,000 births. SMA causes muscles to become weak and considerably smaller over time.
The show featured performances by Nickel and the Polar Bears, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and John Bell & Friends, as well as a range of sit ins. Bell introduced Nickel and the Polar Bears at the start of the night and both Widespread Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann and Panic percussionist Sunny Ortiz sat in with the group.
After a short break, Bell returned to the stage with the evening’s guest of honor, his goddaughter Hannah, and played a two-song acoustic segment comprised of “Blue Indian” and “Tickle The Truth.” Hermann and Ortiz then returned to the stage to back Bell on Neil Young’s “Journey Through The Past,” “Blackout Blues” and “Chilly Water.” The musicians were later joined by R.E.M. bassist and fellow Athens, GA hero Mike Mills for the remainder of the night, including a few Hermann originals and the R.E.M. classic “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” (Mills appears on Hermann’s recent Missing Cats album). In an equally unexpected move, Ortiz moved from his percussion set to a traditional drum kit for part of the night. Longtime Panic manager and agent Buck Williams also stepped out to add harmonica to “Smokestack Lightning.”
The show closed with a version of The Band’s “The Weight” featuring all of the evening’s guests as well as The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s Roger Lewis on saxophone. Panic will kick off their Wood tour in Richmond, VA on March 6.