Weekend Ideas: June 12, 2014


Widespread Panic never reached the popularity of Phish in the Northeast, but the Georgia sextet has been around as long, another alumnus of the inaugural 1992 H.O.R.D.E. tour that took those jam-bands to arenas for the first time. Widespread’s done it without long hiatuses as well, steadily churning earthy blues-rock grooves with folksy, downhome charm, surging melodic threads and Latin-tinged percussion, despite losing co-founding lead guitarist Michael Houser to cancer in 2002. In fact, the group’s been particularly strong for the past several years with guitarist Jimmy Herring (the Dead, Allman Brothers Band) aboard to add his quicksilver flights. Here’s a recent live two-fer where frontman John Bell wraps his whiskey-toned voice around an Otis Redding favorite as well as a nugget from Widespread’s 1988 debut, Space Wrangler. The band brings its laidback crackle to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Friday with funky New Orleans opener Galactic, whose members have variously been sitting in with Widespread this tour.

Grammy-winning singer/guitarist Melissa Etheridge surveys her catalog with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on Friday, and it’s a pretty good weekend for jazz, blues and fusion as well. Another Grammy winner, singer/pianist Diane Schuur can switch from melodious ballad or free-scatting freakout, but her latest album tribute to Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz sounds like the nice fit for the Regattabar, where she’ll appear Friday before Rhode Island-bred bluesman Duke Robillard brings his guitar finesse to the same club on Saturday. Fans of bass guitar should consider Saturday’s Summer Bass Bash at the Berklee Performance Center, where virtuoso pals Victor Wooten (Flecktones) and Steve Bailey reprise their funky Bass Extremes project with drummers JD Blair and Derico Watson. Here’s a peek at one of Bass Extremes’ similar summits. And my sleeper pick for the weekend arrives Sunday with the local debut of House of Hats at cozy Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge. Live and on its striking album This Love, that British acoustic/folk combo’s ensemble vocal harmonies evoke such acts as both classic Fleetwood Mac and Fleet Foxes. Here’s a taste of what to expect from House of Hats.

Finally, for my Thursday Throwback, with the exciting news that Jack White will rock the Newport Folk Festival on July 26 and Fenway Park’s “Bleacher Theater” on Sept. 17, here’s the mercurial singer/guitarist in a classic 2003 White Stripes set from Australia.

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