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Published: 2001/09/18
by Paul Kanterman

Spin Doctors- Wetlands 9/7

Old-school grooves took over Wetlands Preserve on Friday as the Spin Doctors returned home to claim their rightful place as one of the founding fathers of the modern jamband scene. As Wetlands winds down its final weeks of shows, this was a perfect evening to share memories. The Spin Doctors were back to write yet another electric prescription for your funky ills.

During the equipment change, after a solid opening set from The Authority (themselves a frequent opening band for the Doctors, back in the day), those in attendance traded thoughts. Tales were told of places fondly held in memory, but long gone; places like Continental Divide and The Marquee. Sadly, in just a few days, Wetlands Preserve will add its name to the list.

At around midnight the band took the stage and tore into their classic "What Time Is It/Off My Line." From there we were off on a three-hour tour that would touch on all of the songs that we remember so well. Did we really still know all the words to "Yo Mama’s a Pajama?" Yes, and your sister’s a mister.

Of course they played the hits, "Jimmy Olsen’s Blues," and "Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong," among others. However, the highlights were a smoking "Freeway of the Plains -> Lady Kerosene." and a torrid "Shinbone Alley."

Eric Schenkman’s guitar work was very impressive, as was Mark White’s bass. After battling paralysis of his vocal cords for years, Chris Barron was in fine form with nary a sour note all evening.

And now, a historical perspective . . .

In 1992, the Spin Doctors were one of five bands on the original H.O.R.D.E. tour, along with Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.) and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic and Phish. Today, ARU is gone, and the Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler’s biggest days are behind them. Meanwhile, Phish and Panic have continued to develop and grow to the point that they are, arguably, bigger than they have ever been. Sure, the Spin Doctors had a number one album and a number of top-ten hits, but perhaps this is an argument for slow and steady winning the race?

I could not help but think, as I listened to the talent on stage Friday night, of the lost years. The Doctors had not played together since ’94 and while there were no signs of rust, they had nothing new to offer either. I wonder where their sound would have gone to, had they been playing together for the past seven years.

The Spin Doctors proved on Friday that they are a very talented band. Hopefully they will have another chance to play and grow, at their own pace, without the pressures of having to follow-up a number-one album and top-ten hits.

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