Widespread Panic Discusses Apparent Demise Of H.O.R.D.E.

The merry Southern jamsters of Widespread Panic returned to record stores this week with their sixth studio effort, "'Til the Medicine Takes," the follow-up to last year's live double set, "Light Fuse Get Away."

Even though all of Panic's records have achieved six-figure sales, the band has built its reputation over the last few years on its incredible concert performances, having cultivated the kind of live following that made the band one of the biggest draws of the 1998 touring season (even outgrossing the likes of Sheryl Crow).

After making a name for itself on the Southeastern college circuit in the late '80s, Widespread Panic got some of its first national attention for its appearances at the first two editions of the H.O.R.D.E. music festivals, back in 1992 and 1993.

After last year's outing (the tour's seventh), organizers for H.O.R.D.E have decided not to remount the tour for this summer, and during a recent interview with MTV News, Widespread Panic talked about

its apparent demise.

"Originally, when we first got together [for H.O.R.D.E.] with Phish, Blues Traveler, Bela Fleck, and Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit -- the Spin Doctors were in there as well -- these were bands we all toured with and shared territories with," explained guitarist and vocalist John Bell. "We opened for them, they opened for us. Demographic and geographic [link]."

"It was a chance where we could spend the summer and do something really fair," he continued. "Make a $10 ticket, 86 the parking charges, and have the kids really have a big thing, and we could all play together. That's how it all originated. Then you got into the organization [behind it], the competition and posturing on the part of the record companies, people scrambling

for

airplay and things like that, which really didn't come into play in the original idea."

"So, it was short lived in its original ideals," Bell added. "Not to say that anyone was really to blame, but you just try it --"

"It was a natural progression," interjected bassist Dave Schools.

"You throw your bait in and see what happens," Bell said.

"And a lot of people see you taking fish out of that lake," Schools said, "and they come fish it until there's nothing left." [RealVideo]

Widespread Panic will finish its current U.S. tour with a pair of dates at the Harmony Festival in Aspen, Colorado on August 8 and 9, after which the group will head over to Europe for a month-long tour of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the U.K.