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Fresh Tracks: Widespread Panic Salutes the “Tackle Box Hero”

Georgia jam stalwarts Widespread Panic dropped a surprise new album on June 14. “Snake Oil King” is the group’s first studio LP in nine years, and although the effort comes in at a lean six tracks, it holds some potent grooves that will please the band’s loyal fanbase.

Among them, “Tackle Box Hero,” a seven-minute tale of an itinerant journeyman who skips town for smoother waters when trouble strikes. The tune is led by Panic keyboardist Jo Jo Hermann— a Professor Longhair disciple—who laces the lyrics with Gulf Coast imagery, as the titular character wants to “test the waters on a bayou day.” 

The track peaks with fret fireworks from lead guitarist Jimmy Herring.

The band made the new record in its origin city of Athens, with expected help from longtime producer John Keane. It’s available on vinyl, and the packaging features a cool cover illustration from artist Marq Spusta.

In recent years Panic has been sticking to a limited touring schedule, typically playing a multi-night stand in one city per month. In July that city will be Asheville, N.C., where the band will hold court at the Arena on July 25-27. JB and company are also opening for the Rolling Stones in Denver on June 20. 

Band photo by Josh Timmermans

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