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Widespread Panic celebrating, looking beyond 25th anniversary

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011

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Widespread Panic is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and in a two years the Georgia jam band will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the sextet isn’t getting its tuxedos ready yet.

“That’s not up to us; we’re just going to keep on playing music till we have to come to that turning point in our lives,” says percussionist Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz. “We were shocked when we were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (in 2008). When we first started out on this adventure, we never knew that there would come a time when those kind of ceremonies would exist.

“Right now, I think everyone is in a good place. The music is still talking for itself. All we ever wanted to do was just play music. As long as we can continue to do that, it doesn’t matter what we acquire or don’t acquire.”

Widespread Panic has released 11 studio albums during its career, the most recent of which, “Dirty Side Down,” came out in 2010. Ortiz anticipates making a new album with the group at some point soon — though he and his bandmates plan to spend most of 2012 on their own projects — but he says Widespread Panic is more proud of its reputation as an adventurous live band, known for its lengthy and unpredictable performances.

“For 25 years we’ve never sustained ourselves with record sales,” Ortiz, 59, explains. “It’s always been touring and being able to come out and do shows with different songs every night. That’s exciting for us.

“We want to continue to feed that fire, that desire to want to be different and not cater to what everyone else is doing. We want to do it our own way or no way at all. We might turn a few heads and we might lose a few people, but that’s OK. We’re never afraid to not only step on the edge but occasionally fall over it.”

Widespread Panic performs on Friday, Oct. 14, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 and $30. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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