As Covid-19 ravaged the globe, the concert industry was hit harder than most. Touring musicians, their crews, music venues…few were spared the hardship of a world that just shut down. A vaccines became readily available, though, there was a glimmer of hope, and as the industry has adapted, music fans have once again been able to stand in front of the bands they love. 2021 Mempho Music Fest – headlined by Widespread Panic and the Avett Brothers – returned the first weekend of October, and provided a cathartic release for bands and fans alike.
Widespread Panic has made Memphis a regular tour stop since the band got together. According to the Panic resource “Everyday Companion Online,” their first official show in the Bluff City was in April, 1989. Since then, they’ve seen local crowds swell from a couple of hundred to thousands. After 30-plus years of touring, WSP recently made a conscious decision to cut back their schedule, to “pass the baton” to a younger collection of musicians looking to expand their careers.
WSP returns to Memphis to headline Mempho Music Fest on October 1 and 2, and will hit the road for several multi-night residencies after that. Slideandbanjo.com’s Marty Halpern caught up with Panic percussionist Domingo “Sunny“ Ortiz to discuss the band’s past, present, and future.
For musicians, the Covid-19 pandemic led to numerous artistic endeavors that would not have seen the light of day. From EPs to artwork, musicians had the time to finish projects that had been on the back burner. None of those projects compare in depth and quality to what Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (JFJO) founding member Reed Mathis created.
Prior to the covid outbreak, there wasn’t a band more certain to explode in popularity than Grateful Shred. Founded on a whim in 2016, the rotating crew of California crooners found a niche with their take on the early 70’s era Grateful Dead sound.
When Langhorne Slim took the stage at Atlanta’s Terminal West on August 19, it was a momentous occasion. For many in the crowd, this was the first “real” concert during the pandemic, and you got the vibe it was one of the band’s first as well. Slim (Sean Scolnick), Paul Defiglia (stand-up bass) and Mat “Twain” Davidson (slide guitar, banjo, violin) gave 100% energy, and expressed genuine appreciation for the ability to simply perform for an audience.
Leftover Salmon has been creating music for over a generation., and their accomplishments have let them travel the world, playing in front of hundreds of thousands of fans. Never one to phone it in, the band has released “Brand New Good Old Days,” an impressive collection of songs that sets the current course the band is heading.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead finished the second half of its “Go to Haven” concert series at New Haven, Connecticut’s Westville Music Bowl with three more dominating performances. While the shows in May were rain-filled, the sun this time around made everyone in attendance joyous as they walked onto the former tennis courts.
Nearly 500 days since they last played in front of fans, Joe Russo’s AlmostDead kicked off their post-pandemic 2021 touring schedule with three rainy sold out shows at a tennis center now known as the Westville Music Bowl.
That metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel you see? It’s the music calendar, revving back up after COVID. Today, LOCKN’ announced its summer 2021 plans that span three weekend mini-festivals in August featuring JRAD, Goose, and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
In the summer of 1993 I went to a sleepaway camp in Starlight, Pennsylvania. I was a 15-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, and a few of my cabin mates were from Canada. We did all of your typical summer camp things, and playing music loud was obviously one of them. Over the several weeks we spent together I fell in love with a band my Canadian bunkmates introduced me to – The Tragically Hip, a massively popular rock band north of the border that I’d never heard of. To this day, they’re still one of my favorites, and recently released a ”new” album, “Saskadelphia.”