Looking Back: Widespread Panic's Two Nights at Mempho Music Festival October 6, 2022 13:40


Words by Monica Dean

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Widespread Panic returned to Memphis,Tennessee last weekend to headline two nights of the Mempho Music Festival at the beautiful Memphis Botanic Gardens.  Fans enjoyed the sunshine while listening to Adia Victoria, Bette Smith, Futurebirds, Jason Isbell, Fantastic Negrito, The Black Keys, Amy Lavere, Celise, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Portugal The Man, Big Ass Truck, Elizabeth King, Allison Rusell, Bobby Rush, Wilco, Tank And The Bangas, and Widespread Panic on two stages.

Saturday night started off with JoJo Hermann pounding out "All Time Low" on his piano. Panic continued with a hefty "Rock" before slowing it down for "C. Brown," "You Should Be Glad," and "Junior." Grabbing the keys, John Bell took the crowd for a ride on his "Love Tractor". Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz drove the beat into "Wondering."  Dave Schools led into a boogie-inducing "Walkin’ (For Your Love)". Herman took us back to his first show at the Georgia Theatre with "One Armed Steve" where he was kicked out of the venue because his picture was not on the poster with the rest of the band members. 

The weather was perfect in Memphis for a stroll out the back porch with "Holden Oversoul" followed by a "Tallboy" to quench the crowd's thirst. Chuck Leavell, former keyboardist for The Allman Brothers Band, joined Herman at the keys for "Jessica" and dusted off a cover played only once before with Leavell in Atlanta in 2015, 264 shows ago. Leavell stayed on stage to share the vocals with Bell for The Rolling Stones' classic, "Can't Always Get What You Want". The one set show ended in a hat trick of covers with Jerry Joseph's "Climb to Safety".

A backwards hat JB walked onto the Mempho Music Festival stage on night two, a sure sign that things were about to get real. After a nod and a thank you to Wilco who came on before  Panic, the set started off with Bloodkin's "Make Sense To Me," "Little Kin," and a "Machine" jam that slipped effortlessly into "Barstools & Dreamers."  Bell then grabbed some Memphis BBQ sauce and Tennessee whiskey for a delicious "Ribs and Whiskey."

An exuberant Bobby Rush, blues musician, joined Widespread Panic onstage after playing earlier in the day. Rush played the harmonica and jumped around the stage to play "Gotta Have Money" with so much energy that he gained great big grins from Bell and Schools, before walking over for a little dueling guitar and harmonica with Jimmy Herring. The blues man stayed on stage as Schools dropped the baseline into a much anticipated "Bowlegged Woman" with Rush on harmonica. Bell served up "Thought Sausage" to feed the crowd's soul. 

Hermann rolled right into a funky cover of “Ride Me High.” Widespread Panic continued to give fans more, more, more with a rambunctious “Fishwater."  Continuing with the uninterrupted flow of music, Bell growled out the lyrics to a smoking “Red Hot Mama” and a scorching “Tie Your Shoes”.  Finally taking a break, Bell grabbed his black guitar for a final cover of Vic Chesnutt’s “Protein Drink / Sewing Machine” to close out a fantastic weekend.

Widespread Panic returns to the fan favorite Riverside Theater in Milwaukee for three sold out nights October 21-23.

Setlists via PanicStream.com


Set: Makes Sense To Me, Little Kin, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Ribs and Whiskey, Gotta Have Money*, Bowlegged Woman*, Dyin’ Man, Thought Sausage > Ride Me High > Fishwater > Red Hot Mama > Tie Your Shoes > Honky Red, Protein Drink / Sewing Machine 


* w/ Bobby Rush on vocals and harmonica

– ‘Gotta Have Money’ first time played (Bobby Rush)

–  Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)


Makes Sense To Me, Lil Kin, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Ribs and Whiskey, Got To Have Money*+ > Bowlegged Woman*, Dyin' Man, Thought Sausage > JAM > Ride Me High > Fishwater > Red Hot Momma > Tie Your Shoes > Honky Red > Protein Drink / Sewing Machine


*Bobby Rush on vocals and harmonica

+ FTP... Bobby Rush

–  Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)