hanging on to Solid Rock

By Jim Stanford on July 10, 2013

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Jimmy Herring belts out a solo with help from Jojo Hermann and John Bell on Saturday as Widespread Panic plays the last of three shows at Grand Targhee.

John Bell blew on his hands as he stepped to the microphone to begin the second set Saturday at Grand Targhee.

“We’ve been freezing our asses off the last few days,” the Widespread Panic singer and guitarist said. Then, he smiled at the wide-eyed fans ready to dance before the stage. “Warm people!” he said in his trademark growl.

Rather, it was the hot music that kept fans moving throughout a marathon three-night run at the Alta, Wyo., resort. No matter how worn out everyone was from the revelry and 8,000-foot elevation, time after time the Southern rockers picked up the crowd with simmering grooves.

Whether it was the funk throwdown of “Arleen” from the last set Saturday, the cover of “No Sugar Tonight” to close Friday or a blistering “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” on July 4, Widespread brought the heat. A few pre-show rain showers — cool weather by Wyoming standards but perhaps freezing to Athens, Ga., musicians — failed to put a chill on the festivities.

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Panic fan’s guide to Targhee 2013

By Jim Stanford on July 4, 2013

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Yeah, the air here, breathing’s great. John Bell at Targhee in 2011.

The slopes are free of snow. Mud and mosquitoes shouldn’t be a problem. The band may still need oxygen, but they won’t have to bundle up in jackets.

Widespread Panic is headed North again, back to the land of sunny rocks and funny trees that is Grand Targhee. The veteran Southern rockers will play three concerts at 8,000 feet at the Alta, Wyo., resort, beginning on the Fourth of July.

Whereas the band’s last visit, in 2011, came after a massive winter that left snow on much of the mountain — allowing fans to make turns before the shows — this time Widespread arrives in the full splendor of summer in the Tetons.

“Instead of skiing from top to bottom, you’ll be able to mountain bike top to bottom,” says Ken Rider, the resort’s marketing director.

Although there’s a chance of thunderstorms in the next few days, conditions should be ideal compared to the challenges of 2011. Here’s a guide for Spread Heads heading up into the hills for a musical Vacation.

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Widespread Panic to return to Targhee

By Jim Stanford on March 1, 2013

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They spent a little time on the mountain, and now they’re coming back for more.

Widespread Panic, the Southern rockers who celebrated their 25th anniversary tour in 2011 with a three-night run at Grand Targhee, will return to the Alta, Wyo., resort this summer for another holiday blowout.

Panic again will play three nights, from July 4 to 6. A host of supporting acts will make for a festival atmosphere, as in 2011. Tickets go on sale March 8.

These will be the 18th, 19th and 20th shows the band from Athens, Ga., has played in the Tetons. Over the years Panic has performed at the Mangy Moose, Snow King (many times) and The Spud Drive-In, also on the Fourth of July. The verdant slopes of Targhee, with a stage nestled beside the forest at 8,000 feet, have become a favorite. The band inquired about a return last year, and — in no secret to local Panic fans — plans have been in the works for months.

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a few last thoughts on Targhee Panic

By Jim Stanford on July 13, 2011

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The pilgrims go wild on the hillside. Click to enlarge.

As we look ahead to Sharon Jones, Grace Potter, Michael Franti, Little Feat and the Funky Meters at Targhee Fest this weekend, a little housecleaning is in order.

In hindsight, it’s a shame I had to post a review of the Widespread Panic festival at Targhee before the last show, as Sunday night provided some of the most compelling musical moments. I had heard from veterans of Panic tours that the last night of the run is always the best, and although I lacked the energy to enjoy it fully, they were right.

“Y’all got religion?” bassist Dave Schools growled, introducing Jerry Joseph to the stage. An old friend who has collaborated with the band often, Joseph led Panic through an incandescent rendition of his “Light is Like Water,” a galloping paean to faith, fate and “whatever gets you through the night.”

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ain’t life Grand

By Jim Stanford on July 3, 2011

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John Bell and Dave Schools of Widespread Panic open Friday's concert at Grand Targhee with local favorite "Ain't Life Grand."

First came the snow. Then the mud. And, finally, the mosquitoes.

Despite all the challenges Mother Nature could conjure, Grand Targhee has pulled off an outrageous weekend of rock and roll, melding mountains and music in an experience that even the musicians described as a dream.

“Surreal,” Widespread Panic keyboardist Jojo Hermann said of the setting, on meeting resort owner Geordie Gillett.

Nearly 4,500 fans packed the mountainside Saturday to hear the second of three concerts by Panic, joined by J-Boogie, New Mastersounds and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. On Sunday afternoon, the Spread Heads were trying to rally for one more night, worn out from partying and grappling with the elements. Michael Menert and Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons also were slated to perform.

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