Chatting with Widespread Panic drummer Todd Nance

Widespread Panic plays a two-day double header this weekend at The Joint.

So, 25th anniversary tour; that’s five presidents, 23 seasons of Survivor, two Phish comebacks ...

(Laughs) I never thought of it like that. We’ve taken one break in 25 years, so there’s never been a lot of time to stop and ponder it.

Any guess as to how many total hours Widespread Panic has been onstage?

We’ve probably done around 3,500 shows, and you average that out at three hours and ... that’s a lot of hours. It makes me tired to think about it.

You guys have said you’ll take a break from touring after 2011. Still the plan?

Yeah, we’re still looking at that, and I believe we’re gonna be able to pull it off. But we’ll see how we turn out at the end of the year (laughs).

When people hear “hiatus” they tend to worry that could mean forever.

Tell me about it. The rumor mill is just too much to believe sometimes. “Oh, they’re quitting!” If we were gonna quit we would say so. We’re just gonna take a break, and we’ll be back.


Widespread Panic
With Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, July 15
With Lotus, July 16
Shows 8 p.m., $41-$81
The Joint, 693-5222

So you’d be pretty shocked if there weren’t more shows at some point?

Yeah, you could say that. I don’t even wanna think that way (laughs).

Are you guys doing anything special to celebrate your 25th?

We’ve been trying to is really dig back into the catalog. Even though every show is different, we still have to take it a step further and bring out some stuff that we maybe haven’t played in years, songs we’ve just played once a tour or once a year or something like that. We just try to make sure it doesn’t get stale.

Do you still rehearse?

Yeah, we do a lot of rehearsing. A song might pop up that Jimmy [Herring, the band’s third lead guitarist] has only played a few times over the years. And even though the rest of us have played ’em all a lot and they’re kind of in our memories, we’re talking probably 350 songs that we can pull from—not that we do, but I think the master list has that many on there. I think we actively keep 200-something songs in the rotation. But yeah, there’s a lot to remember.

Plus you mix in new covers, some of which stay in the rotation, right?

Yeah, usually starting around Halloween each year, we’ll pick a handful of songs we’ve never played before. And there’s usually one or two of them that linger and come back. We seem to have a knack for Panic-izing other people’s songs (laughs).

You guys have always drawn well in Vegas, headlined a couple of Vegoose festivals here ... any specific Vegas memory come to mind?

The first time we came to Vegas we played at the Shark Club. It would have to have been ’88 or ’89, on our first foray into the West. Vegas was not a rock ’n’ roll town back then.

Anything you like doing here when you come through now?

We’ve been through Vegas so many times, half the time I’ll go downstairs and gamble and the other half I’ll never even see the casino. It just depends on how I feel. This is the end of the tour, and I may have some family coming out, so I’ll probably take advantage of the town, go out and get a nice dinner and have some fun.

What are you planning to do during the upcoming break?

I’ve got a couple of options that I’m looking at, nothing I can really talk about. But I’m hoping to go on tour with a couple of friends.

So you’ll still be out on the road.

Yeah, most likely (laughs). You either do this or you don’t.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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