Though Widespread Panic startled fans late last year by announcing that they were planning to stay off the road in 2004, the band’s members haven’t exactly been idle. Bassist Dave Schools, keyboardist John Hermann and drummer Todd Nance are taking advantage of the band’s yearlong hiatus by releasing a trio of side projects.
Schools kicks off the flurry of Panic activity with the August 17th release of More Talk About Tonight, his second LP as Slang, an electronic-tinged collaborative project with producer Layng Martine. The follow-up to 2000’s The Bellwether Project features guest turns from Vic Chesnutt, DJ Logic, Lori Carson and Eric McFadden.
“The initial impetus for Slang was simply for Layng and me to have a free exchange of musical ideas,” Schools says. “It was a mutual admiration society between the two of us that evolved over time to include a lot of musicians that we wanted to work with. The new CD seems to be a more fully realized and mature work.”
Hermann re-teams with Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars — for the past eight years, the trio has played occasional shows as the Smiling Assassins — for his third album, Just Ain’t Right,, set for release September 14th. “[It’s] a great opportunity for me to get together with these amazing musicians and lay down all of the songs that have I written on my own over the years, songs that have been living in the closet,” says Hermann. “Whenever I have time off from the road and the others are free, we get together to work on songs and play a few gigs.”
Drummer Todd Nance will release Rhythm Oil in October — his third album with Barbara Cue, a collective of Southern pals that includes John Neff of Drive-By Truckers and that began as “basically a tribute show to NRBQ that just kept on going,” according to Nance.
In other Widespread Panic news, the group will release Jackassolantern on September 28th. The live album features tracks from Panic’s Halloween concerts and includes covers such as Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.”