Happy Anniversary: An Archival Widespread Panic Release Finds Clarity from A Wedding
Widespread Panic Archivist Horace Moore receives some unexpected help…
Touring practically non-stop since officially forming in 1986, Widespread Panic will mark its 25th anniversary in 2011 and, not surprisingly, recent times have seen the band releasing some of its archived performances. As the band’s vault keeper, I’m certainly fortunate to have the task of delivering this music to the fans.
The decisions surrounding what shows to release are manageable because we use a couple of reliable resources. One is the E.C., the Everyday Companion, an online compilation of setlists and related information maintained by fans for fans. Another tool is an extensive spreadsheet I’ve developed that cross-references the recorded shows in the vault against what the fans want in their collections. Using these resources, I can plan ahead for an official archival release a few months out or even create a weekly podcast in the space of a few hours—and ultimately feel comfortable with the information being released along with the music.
With these ongoing projects, it’s always interesting to come upon those situations that require a little head-scratching. While recently working on a podcast, I wanted to head back into the early years, so I started the process by listening to some analog cassettes from 1988. After reliving some old memories, I finally decided on a tape from November 1988 at the Uptown Lounge in Athens, Ga. But then the dilemma: While assembling the publishing details by cross-referencing the original tape against the information on the E.C., everything made sense except for the show date. What to do?
Dave Schools’ handwriting on the cassette tape clearly said 11/25/88 but the E.C. said 11/26/88. Adding to the confusion, the E.C. setlist was from a complete show, but since the vault tape ran out before the show was over, it didn’t contain the entire setlist. Of course I began to overthink it. Perhaps the resource that the E.C. used was a bit better than the setlist handwritten by a band member. Really? Maybe.
Regardless, I had to make the call—the 25th with Dave’s handwritten setlist or the E.C.’s 26th? This is certainly not a life or death decision, but as the vault keeper, I like to at least get the date right for shows that I put on the path to official release. In the end, I chose the 25th but I still had that little voice inside my head questioning the call. After making my executive decision, this dilemma came full circle in the form of a wedding ring.
Complexity immediately turned to simplicity when I realized exactly why that Uptown show must have happened on the 25th and not the 26th. The night of 11/26/88 is when I married Chris, who has been my wife for almost 22 years. With the wedding in Charlotte, N.C. and Dave Schools in attendance, some other band had to have been playing the Uptown Lounge that Saturday night.
Dave Schools at the nuptials
I couldn’t stop laughing as I took off my wedding ring and looked inside for the engraved date. Yep, 11/26/88. Once the final determination sank in, it hit me that not only did Widespread Panic take off what would’ve been a great Saturday night, but a friend also demonstrated quite the effort to attend my wedding when excuses for not doing so were overly abundant.
After completing that podcast and making a call to Dave to share both my epiphany and gratitude, I spent the rest of the evening once again feeling like I had made at least a few good decisions in my life. And at the top of the list were a band, a friend and, of course, my wife.
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