Cloud 9 press


GLIDE MAG - March 31, 2014

The Hard Rock Resort and Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is typically frequented by a diverse group of vacationers from all over the world looking for a relaxing escape from their home climates and lives.  During the week of March 17, though, the entire resort was overtaken by Widespread Panic and their loyal fans seeking the same relaxing experience, with the added treat of having their favorite band perform on the beach for four nights.  The event itself, put on flawlessly by Cloud 9 Adventures, truly allowed fans to come together and spoil themselves with limitless food and drinks, world-class beaches and swimming pools, a rejuvenating spa, and a welcoming staff that truly strives to provide anything a vacationer could desire.

After three days of this pampering and indulging, there would seemingly be a natural tendency to become complacent with any tasks at hand.  Widespread Panic countered this with a performance that both highlighted their early catalog and honored their heroes and influences.   The show on Night three served as a reconnection to the band’s humble roots and adventurous musical spirit that has earned them a blue-collar reputation as a band that shuns the individual spotlight and, instead, embraces a fluid sharing of musical ideas on stage.

There was a definite theme of humility and paying respects to musical inspirations and influences that was evident from the first set opener of “Heroes” from the album Ain’t Life Grand, released in 1994.  In it, lead singer John Bell iterates, “Old days come and go too soon.  Old friends, heroes, and lifetimes.”   The rest of the selections were favorites from the band’s earlier years including a “Porch”, “Pilgrims”, and “I’m Not Alone.”

Set two was marked by special guest appearances by some old friends and collaborators.  Randall Bramblett’s saxophone was featured in a surreal and powerful version of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys.”  John Gros, Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Sipe, Grant Green, Jr., and the legendary bassist George Porter, Jr. joined in various combinations for “Time is Free” and Bill Withers’ “Use Me” as well as a charismatic “Bass and Drums” segment with Dave Schools and George Porter, Jr. exchanging licks on the bass.  All of these energies on stage made a platform ripe for inventive jamming and exhilarating funk that made an already remarkable performance one for the history books.