Thursday, August 20, 2009

WIDESPREAD PANIC EUROPE 1999 JOURNAL / SUNDAY, AUGUST 8, 1999 -- This morning I'm heading out to CDG to fly up to Amsterdam for the beginning of Leg One of Mr. Phil's Europanictour 1999. Needless to say, I'm excited at the prospect of seeing all my friends in the Widespread Panic crew and band, not to mention my Eurohead pals, all the Panic fans I've met on previous tours and a number of folks I only know through the listservs. As in the past here in Europe, I'll be covering the band for RELIX Magazine. Panic will be playing 14 shows in 18 days. Make that daze. I'll do the first four (Amsterdam > Hamburg > Hannover > Berlin) and the final four (Paris > Glasgow > Manchester > London). Marti will go to Paris > Glasgow and London.

Marti and I have been enjoying a fine -- albeit foreshortened -- weekend together: movie date on the Champs-Elysées after work on Friday (we saw Washington Square starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Chaplin, Albert Finney and Maggie Smith, based on the Henry James novel -- it was excellent); terrasse lunch at the Tabac de la Mairie Saturday; a search for (and finally finding) the special eclipse-watching glasses; last-minute shopping; putting up more posters for the Panic Paris gig; and, packing.

MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 1999 / AMSTERDAM -- Today is Jerry Garcia's deathday, gonna try not to think about it. I much prefer to remember people who are gone on their birthdays.

Arrived in Amsterdam yesterday afternoon, hooked up with Pat Goodwin and basically did the coffeeshop circuit. Pat had flown in from Chicago earlier Sunday morning. We hit the Grey Area at exactly 4:20. Jon Sprayberry, Heidi and Kip, in from Georgia, met us there. We did a serious hang there sampling Grey Mist, a Cannabis Cup winner.

Later the five of us hopped a tram, rode "black" to the Leidseplein. Mexican dinner at Sarita's, food generally good, waiter uncomprehending, unintelligible and s l o w w w w w . . .

We repaired for after-dinner drinks and smokes at the marvelous Rokerij, just a few doors away. The faux Indian decor, spacey ambience and racked-out waitresses always combine to make the Rok a good call.

After a delightful idyll there, we pressed on to When Nature Calls to obtain mycological specialties. Pat and I parted company with the Georgia 3 at this point; they went back to their hotel and we went to the Dampkring. Very nice. Probably my favorite coffeeshop.

The Dampkring.

I bought a Dampkring shirt, which I'm wearing as I post this from the Internet Cafe opposite our hotel. We hung out at the Damp with a couple of Spreadheads from North Carolina.

On the way home Pat and I stopped by the Speak Easy, recommended by Ed Fairchild, an American Spreadhead I’d met in Amsterdam. Picked up some Jack (Herrer, not Daniels). Pat went to bed after that and I went to another Rokerij right across the Singel Canal, very near to our hotel, for a nightcap.

This morning I waited for Pat to pull his act together so we could go to the topless beach at Zandvoort, but I guess he slept in. More American fans are beginning to gather in Amsterdam, cruising the coffeeshops, shaking off jetlag and counting down the hours until Widespread Panic kicks off its third European swing tomorrow night at the Paradiso.

Laura and Pat at the Greenhouse Centrum.

Today's 4:20 at the Greenhouse Centrum saw Pat Goodwin starting to round up his posse. European jamheads are arriving as well, with everyone putting faces to e-mail personas.

Rudi, Steve and Ralph.

Rudi Tewes and Ralph Metzger represented the vanguard of the German krew. Homies like Wende White and Steve Dumach were in the house. I was the envoy from Paris. Weather has been sunny and mild with intermittent showers, cool in the evening. It's always cool in the coffeeshops, where the tribe has been performing the sacred rituals. Lots of stoners in town during this, the high season.

Another onslaught of Spreadheads is due in tomorrow from the States and from around Europe. I've been submitting stuff to Hanno Bunjes' Euro Tour listserv; Goodwin would have submitted something to S-NET or AN HONEST TUNE (or wherever the Hell he's supposed to be posting) had he not been distracted for hours by the coffeeshops and by his new inflatable doll, Brandi.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 1999 / AMSTERDAM -- Show day! Panic kicked off the Eurotour tonight at the Paradiso. Long sleep last night, lazy morning today . . . I'm getting into a nice tour rhythm. After going to the cyber café near the hotel to post to my page, I got some lunch then walked down to the Speak Easy, where I ran into Ed Fairchild. He had flown in from Dulles earlier this morning. It was great to see him again; we met last year at Wende's place during her Another Saturday Night Deadhead event at the Paradiso. I had a brief hang with Ed, then I was off to soundcheck.

I ran into Sunny Ortiz and some of the Panic crew when I checked in at the Paradiso around 3:30 p.m. I visited with them for awhile, then headed to Dutch Flowers for the 4:20. I saw Mike Houser out on the street, told him about the Dutch Flowers 4:20 and gave him the coffeeshop map from Jon Sawyer’s website. (Mikey eventually wound up at the Rokerij.)

Stayed awhile at Dutch Flowers (there seemed to be some confusion over where today's 4:20 was actually being held), then I went back for soundcheck and encountered John Bell. He had just woken, stumbled into the Paradiso for a look around and now was going back to the bus for a nap -- everything was running behind schedule. This is not to say that Trey Allen wasn't doing a great job as tour manager.

When the soundcheck finally got underway, I reunited with the rest of the gang: Todd, Schools and JoJo.

Things were pulling together now. I watched as the sound and stage crew tweaked and tested. The Paradiso, a deconsecrated church, has excellent acoustics if you take the time to optimize them. The boyz went back to the bus to crash after soundcheck and the Spreadheads filed in. After long flights, train rides and drives, the party was finally underway.

Saw the German contingent, Ralph and Rudi, Hartmut (with whom we're staying tomorrow night), the Frenchies (Michel and Serge), the Amsterdam-based American expats Steve and Wende, plus all the tourheads from the States, including Pat Goodwin, Ed Fairchild, Jonathan Woods and a few hundred others.

"Travelin' Light" was the opener. The musicians were pretty fagged out from their long flight, but you'd never know it from the long, dark, dank (in both senses of the term) show they played.

Here's the setlist. 1: Travelin' Light > Sleepy Monkey > Henry Parsons Died / Raise The Roof > Junior > Blackout Blues / Aunt Avis > Tall Boy > C. Brown
2: Surprise Valley / Arlene / Dyin’ Man > Makes Sense To Me > Pleas > Swamp > Drumz > Jam > Maggot Brain > Driving Song > Breathing Slow > Radio Child
E1: City Of Dreams
E2: All Time Low

Before “City Of Dreams” J.B. said, “Everybody’s gotta be somewhere. And this is a good place to be, I think!”

After the show, JoJo, his pal Ron Shapiro and I hit the streets on a coffeeshop quest, but it was too late. We ducked into a joint where two sexually charged couples were going at it at the bar. JoJo and I were checking out the two women of the foursome becoming very affectionate with each other. Already horny and we've only been away from our squeezes for a couple of days.

We went back to the dressing room at the Paradiso for awhile, then the venue managers kicked us out, so the group made their way onto the bus for the trip to Hamburg. The roadies still had another hour or two of loadout before they could roll.

I found Jon Declos, whom I'd met during the Chesterfield run, shared a cab with him as we returned to our hotels uptown.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 1999 / AMSTERDAM > HAMBURG -- Today was Eclipse Day and in the throes of solar fever Goodwin and I managed to cross our wires completely. He wound up stranding me in Amsterdam, while he gaily went to pick up the rental car and drove off to Hamburg alone. Well, he is from Indiana and a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

This did not deter me from having as much fun as I could during my remaining hours in Sin City. I went to the Internet café, read my email and posted to my page.

Then I stepped out to watch the eclipse with the special glasses Marti and I had acquired at the last minute in Paris on Saturday. Abandoned by my tour buddy and the rest of the krew, I gave away the ten extra pair of eclipse shades to grateful strangers nearby on Shakedown Street. Random acts of blindness . . . prevention.

The eclipse, partial though it was from this northern vantage point, was pretty damn cool. We had been forewarned that it would be cloudy and rainy, but the sun shone in Amsterdam, to my great joy.

Next I wheeled my luggage over to Central station, boarded the 1:34 p.m. iron horse. Off to Hamburg on three hours' sleep. I visited with the many Spreadheads who were rolling on down the line on the same train. Around 6 p.m. I had supper in the dining car.

Arrived shortly after seven, cabbed to the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's legendary Red Light District. Rolled past the former site of the Star Club, where the Beatles played eight sets a night in the early '60s. Just beyond was Panic's venue, the Grunspan, a small club with excellent sightlines.

Ran into Widespread Panic manager Sam Linear and Capricorn rep Mike Bone immediately. Someone pointed to a corner in a back room where I could stash my bags.

Panic was soundchecking with "Blue Indian" from the new CD.

In the house were Arne and Annaliese Heinen, two heavy-duty Deadheads from Hamburg: Arne hosts a monthly Dead show on public access radio and Anneliese sings in her own band. These two freaks had worked hard to bring out the local Hamburg heads and it showed. This was the first European show I've seen in three tours where the number of natives was nearly equal to that of the American tourheads. This fact was not lost on the band, who afterward expressed their pleasure at having received such a strong grassroots welcome.

1: Let's Get Down To Business / One Arm Steve / Pigeons / Rebirtha > Wondering > The Waker / Disco > Diner > Climb To Safety
2: Party At Your Mama's House > Space Wrangler > Greta > Love Tractor > Papa's Home > Drums > Papa's Home > Pilgrims / Porch Song
E: Bear's Gone Fishin' > Junco Partner

A very hot show, played hard and sweaty, without the murky, snarling overtones of the previous night's epic at the Paradiso.

Following a brief aftershow meet'n'greet in the hall, a number of Spreadheads cabbed over to the Mayday, a late-night bar where Arne works. I found Todd downstairs at the Grunspan and he was up for partying. JoJo had to make some calls to the States from his hotel room. (A recently-engaged man.)

We picked up Mikey on the way out and our krew took three cabs over to the Mayday.

Arne and Annaliese had decorated the place with Panic posters and a huge Stealie, creating a hip ambience for this laid-back post-show hang. Arne was spinning great music on the house system.

The scene there was very chill. Amsterdam coffeeshops revisited.

The fans generally left Mikey and Todd alone to schmooze with folks at their own pace.

We all drank and smoked and joked until 4 a.m., when we poured Mikey and Todd into a cab.

Then Pat, Hartmut and I walked over to Arne and Annaliese's home for a long-overdue crash.

Pat Goodwin. The hapless Road Warrior.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 1999 / HAMBURG > HANNOVER -- After a tasty breakfast and a pleasant hang chez Heinen I was now aboard the Patmobile, with Hartmut at the wheel. Goodwin was a bit highway-shy by now. He had spent five hours lost in Hamburg the day before -- some sort of instant karmic payback for having ditched me in Amsterdam, I reckoned. Completely disoriented, Pat had required the services of some friendly Russians (probably Reeperbahn gangsters), who literally led him in a two-car caravan to the Grunspan. "Follow us, Amerikanischer Dummkopf."

Only an Indiana corncob could take five hours to find the fucking Red Light District in Hamburg! Well, at least he arrived in time to tape the shows. On today's drive to Hannover we listened to Pat's Hamburg playback. The performances were catching fire.

Arne, me, Pat, Hartmut, Bill, Stacey, Matt, Anneliese.

We went to Harmut's lovely pad in Hannover, stashed our bags. Others beside Pat and me who would be staying there included Arne and Anneliese, who drove from Hamburg separately; Matt Butterweck, a photographer friend of Harmut's; and, Stacey Gates, Bill Mixon and Jeff "Sequoia" McClean, American taper/tourheads who were traveling together. In the late afternoon I took a cab to an Internet café and posted to my site.

Then I cabbed to the Panic gig at the Musiktheater Bad. It was a very small venue in a park, far from the main road. The bucolic entertainment complex included an empty swimming pool with a stage at one end -- for grander concerts, apparently, than tonight's Widespread Panic performance -- plus an al fresco movie theater. For us, however, the action was indoors in the tiny club.

1: Happy > Blight > Walkin' (For Your Love), Holden Oversoul > Dear Mr. Fantasy, Impossible > Blue Indian, Chilly Water
2: Chunk Of Coal, Little Lilly, Tie Your Shoes > Proving Ground > Jack > Spoonful > Drums > Conrad > Proving Ground > Knocking 'Round The Zoo
E: Heaven.

Another smokin' show. Not as many natives in the audience as there had been in Hamburg, but still a strong contingent of locals. All the Spreadheads agreed that the shows were getting hotter night by night.

Me with Hanno, Goodwin and Hartmut.

In between sets in Hannover I introduced Capricorn's Mike Bone to Hanno Bunjes, the young guy who had created the Widespread Panic European Tour 1999 website. In the weeks leading up to the tour Hanno’s page, loaded with travel info and contributions from local fans in each city, had proved invaluable to tourheads on both continents. Mike thanked Hanno, then asked if he had met the band. When Hanno replied that he hadn't, Mike invited him to the aftershow. Hanno told me later that he couldn't believe his good fortune!

The post-show hang was held in a small room in the back of the club. Dave Schools was melting under the manipulations of a Stacey Gates massage, but that didn't prevent him from holding court for the benefit of his adoring fans. He really is a funny guy. Dave and Spreadhead Eliza McCall traded Richmond, Virginia high school memories. Dave was teasing a nasty Jerry Garcia joke, which he claimed was not suitable for reverent Deadhead ears. Since I'm in no way a reverent Deadhead, Schools finally told me the joke. I swore not to attribute to him.

Here goes. “Know why they had to cremate Jerry Garcia? Because they couldn’t fit his fat ass in the coffin.”

I don’t recall where I heard that awful joke.

Hanno got to meet everyone in the band; each musician in turn graciously thanked him for his cyber efforts on their behalf. The kid was beaming with joy; it was fun to see. Meanwhile, our Hannover host Hartmut Weissbrodt informed J.B. that the next night in Berlin would be his last show for this tour. (Harmut had been on loan from his wife and daughter, who granted him a reprieve from the family vacation so that he could catch a few shows.) So to Harmut, a hardcore "Rusthead" sporting a More Barn teeshirt, it was imperative that we get a Neil Young cover in Berlin.

As soon as Harmut walked off, J.B. turned to Mikey and said, "I guess we'd better take care of this guy."

No paparazzi! (International Man of Mystery.)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1999 / HANNOVER > BERLIN – Arne, Annaliese, Stacey, Bill, Jeff, Matt, Pat and I had all crashed at Harmut's place in Hannover on Thursday night. Now it was the morning of Friday the 13th and we were all slowly regaining consciousness. Harmut had laid out a great brekkie spread of ham and dried sausage, eggs, cheese, bread and coffee. I ran to a Konditerei to pick up some pastries to contribute. I had hoped for a mid-morning start but there was no way it was gonna happen. Hartmut was traveling with Pat and me. Before he could hit the highway Hartmut had to fulfill his responsibilities as host: get all his guests up, bathed, fed and out of his house. At 12:30 p.m. the three of us finally rolled out. Destination: Berlin.

Harmut's driving and his directions helped get us into Berlin in under three hours. We dropped him at a subway stop so he could meet the friend with whom he would be staying. A city boy, I took over the driving as Pat and I headed crosstown to former East Berlin.

Now Pat is great guy and lots of fun to be with on tour. He has a comprehensive knowledge about Panic, its repertoire and tons of other music. His sense of direction and roadmap-reading skills, on the other hand, are on a par with say, your average rock.

Driving around lost in a big city? You'll do well to have just about anyone other than Pat riding shotgun, shaking his head as he becomes more and more mystified by the fucking Rand McNally. By the time he located a street on the map, we’d be somewhere else.

“How can they change the name of the street if we’re on the same street?” he asks. “They can do that, Pat,” I answer, “because it’s their fucking city!”

Eventually we made it to the Hotel Griefswald, booked for us by Berlin's own Linus Scheffran and conveniently located two blocks from the venue: the Knaack.

We checked into the hotel, checked in at the soundcheck then checked out of the Knaack.

We were hungry and I wanted to show Pat the funky Tascheles art center I had visited in 1996, when I was researching a RELIX article on the German Deadheads. We grabbed a taxi and in minutes were enjoying dark beers in the courtyard of the former squat that had evolved into a major avant-garde cultural center. At the outdoor theater next door a trippy little group was soundchecking for their evening performance. Pat and I are so blasé that we blew off Panic's soundcheck so we could go listen to another band's soundcheck.

We downed the brewskis, then went across the street to Goa, a nouvelle Indian restaurant. We had a great meal on the outdoor terrace.

Goodwin and I got back to the Knaack pretty close to hittin' time.

1: Travelin' Light, Little Kin > Dyin' Man, Hatfield > Sleeping Man > Stop-Go > Pusherman > Blackout Blues
2: Big Wooly Mammoth > Walk On > Driving Song > I Walk On Guilded Splinters > Drums > Four Cornered Room > Ride Me High > Driving Song > Fishwater

No encore. Whether that was because the Spreadheads didn't holler loud enough or because Panic didn't recognize the "encore" request that the Germans chose to express in their own language, is immaterial at this point. Maybe there was some sort of live music curfew. Encore or no encore, for this one Panic kicked it bigtime, in the second set particularly. Because it was Friday the 13th, folks had been calling for "Superstitious," but "Guilded Splinters" is an excellent, spooky tune for this calendar date.

After the show I followed Dave through the Knaack labyrinth, winding by the crankin’ disco, into an upstairs bar. For a short while I visited with Sunny in a booth, then moved on to the poolroom.

JoJo and I got into a best-of-three eight-ball contest with Deepesh and J.B.

Deepesh is a great dude, a taper and in a previous incarnation, a pool hustler.

We gave him and Mr. Bell a good fight, but them two sharks done cleaned our clock.

Soon JoJo and J.B. left as the band bus was about to roll out and I crawled up the street to the hotel. Back in my room, I turned on the TV with the sound off, spread out the Saturday paper (newly acquired from Reception), then . . . instant crisis! As I started to take out my contact lenses, I realized I didn't have my eyeglasses and the little contacts case. Of course I searched every inch of my luggage, totally in vain.

Friday the fucking Thirteenth.

At breakfast with Pat, Terri, Randy, Woods and Laura.
(I'm smiling because Sequoia found my eyeglasses!)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 1999 / BERLIN > PARIS -- At breakfast in the hotel this morning, however, the planets realigned. Stacey Gates and Bill Mixon came down to the tables and announced that Jeff had found my glasses in the tapers area. I had stashed my Workingman's Briefcase there during the show. My eyeglasses case must have dropped out of the outside pocket at some point. I am eternally grateful that I didn't have to hassle with replacing my specs. Thanks again, Jeff!

Before departing Berlin I spent a couple of hours wandering around the rapidly-gentrifying Kollwitzplatz neighborhood near the hotel. It's hard to believe all this was once grey, drab East Berlin. Dozens of cool shops, cafés and renovated residences have cropped up here; I noticed a dramatic difference from just three years ago.

Back then all of the Alexanderplatz and the areas beyond were holes in the ground surrounded by huge building cranes. Today I was able to pop into inviting little boutiques all over this quarter. I had a light lunch outdoors at the Lido Café, then flagged down a taxi to take me back to the hotel to retrieve my luggage and drive me to the airport for my flight home to Paris.

Tonight Marti and I went to dinner at L’Armandie, here in the neighborhood. She loved the things I brought her from the trip: a top and bracelet from Amsterdam, a funky post-modern ballpoint pen and a little wooden heart from Berlin.

Leg One of my Panic Euro Tour was over. A week from Monday right here in Paris, I'd join up again for the Final Four shows.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 1999 -- I was very busy during my off-Panic-tour week. Marti and I would be hosting American friends from the tour at a gathering here at 85 rue Blomet on Sunday, a day off before the juggernaut resumed at the New Morning on Monday night. So we had to whip this place into shape for company.

In an example of impeccable timing, Arminda, our housekeeper, was back home in Portugal on August vacation. But we got it together by the weekend. Pat Goodwin, whenever he resurfaced, and tourmate Don Hess would be staying here for a couple of nights. And we'd reserved crash spaces and hotel rooms for several others. We were looking forward to a fun house party.

Here's the menu for Sunday night:


Lettuce / Orange / Red Onion Salad
Lamb Tagine w/ Pine Nuts and Raisins
Chicken Tagine w/ Green Olives
Veggie Platter
North African Bread
Sidi Brahmin Wine (Algerian)
Algerian Pastries
Fresh Fruit
Sweet Mint Tea

A tagine is like a casserole; the name applies both to the format of the food (in this case, a stew) and to the pot in which it is cooked and served. A North African tagine is a two-part earthenware dish: a shallow, round platter with a tall, conical cover. You cook in the dish on the stove, then cover it to make a stove-top oven. It's also possible to put the tagine in the oven.

Because of the amounts needed for Sunday, I cooked in larger pots and simply used the tagines for serving. I'd originally invited about a dozen or so tourheads, but as plans were evolving it looked like we might be hosting 30 or so folks.

Orchestre National de Barbès

I had a modest collection of North African CDs and tapes to spin on Sunday night, including the funky Orchestre National de Barbès (named after one of Paris’ immigrant neigborhoods), Algerian teen star Faudel, Rachid Taha, Khaled, as well as a number of Moroccan gnawa trance jam recordings, which go so well with good hash.

Yesterday I went up to the fabulous twice-weekly marché in Belleville, a North African quartier of Paris. I had heard about this street market for years, but this was my first visit. Prices were so much lower than here in the upscale 15th arrondissement. I was buying olives, raisins and pistachios by the kilo (2.2 lbs.), so the savings were significant. A bunch of fresh mint sells there for the equivalent of 25 cents; the same item costs 83 cents in our neighborhood. I’d need a bunch of bunches to make sweet mint tea, the traditional capper to a Moroccan meal. So I'd be going back to the market on Friday to buy all my fresh ingredients.

I bought some small decorated tea glasses in one of the shops on the Boulevard de Belleville, then popped into a little Tunisian restaurant on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud where I had a grilled whole black mullet for lunch. The dude cooked it over a charcoal fire, which he agitated and flamed with the aid of a hair dryer!

Before I could decide that this was very odd, I noticed a primitive painting on the wall by my table that depicted a peasant cooking on a grill in the exact same way, except that he was using an old-fashioned fireplace bellows. Let's hear it for advanced technology!

Well, this blackened blackfish tasted great, served on a bed of lettuce with a few veggie items as garnish, sprinkled with diced onion and parsley. I had sweet mint tea afterwards and the entire bill came to a whopping 53FF ($8.83). Almost makes me wanna move out of my bourgeois quartier.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 1999 -- Today, a day off from tour, I got up and started cooking the Moroccan specialties for this evening's dinner party. Disco Don Hess, who took over the care and feeding of Pat Goodwin after I left the tour in Berlin eight days ago, arrived from Belgium in the late afternoon with Pat in tow. They're staying with us tonight and tomorrow night.

While I was rustlin' up the grub earlier, bedecked in my Ben and Jerry's tie-dyed apron, Dave Schools phoned to get details on tonight. I had mentioned the Moroccan munchout to a number of the Panic players and crew, explaining that it was pretty much open house and all were welcome.

As it turned out, tonight was a celebration of guitar tech Wayne Sawyer's tenth anniversary with the band, so they all went out to restaurant to party.

Their absence didn't diminish the partying here at rue Blomet, though, as a good number of itinerant Spreadheads gathered to enjoy a relaxing non-show night. (Ralph Metzger had hosted a similar convocation during one of the off-nights in Germany and the gang had assembled for a mountain jam on a no-show evening in Switzerland.)

In the house tonight were Pat, Don, Bill Mixon, Stacey Gates, Deepesh, Karen, Robin, Doug, Jeff "Sequoia" McLean, Parisian homeboy Michel Ravinet and his houseguest, the ambassador of the German Head Community, Ralph.

Dinner was a hit. It was a pleasant evening, so we were hanging on the balcony, scattered across the living room, clustering 'round the bar. Disco and I had set up a dubbing system in the bedroom, so we ran DAT > analogs of the Hamburg show during the party. We listened to the dubs and the North African CDs as well, to help maintain the exotic mood. As if we needed any help maintaining our exotic moods.

Later that evening Moody Miller dropped by. One look at our scene and he came up with my favorite catch phrase of the Panic Europe run: “Y’all are tourin’ pimp-style!”

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 1999 – Just another Panic Monday. Tonight Widespread Panic returned for a third adventure in the City of Light. It was Marti's first show of the European Summer Tour; tomorrow we'll fly with Pat and Don to Glasgow for the three U. K. dates. (Marti will skip Manchester for an extra day in the country of her ancestors, then catch up with Don, Pat and me in London for the tour finale.)

We served brekkie to our guests Pat and Disco, then the two of them and I went for a tethered balloon ride above Paris. For the equivalent of $10 you can ascend 150 meters above the Parc Andre Citroën, site of the former auto plant, right here in the 15th.

After the balloon ride, a bunch of us Panic freaks reconvened at 1:30 p.m. for lunch à la terrasse at Les Petits Bouchons de François Clerc in Montparnasse. We had a traditional leisurely two-hour, four-course French lunch, accompanied by fine wines. The four Les Bouchons restaurants have a revolutionary pricing policy on wine: no markups over cost. So instead of paying an additional 200%-300% for a bottle just because you're ordering in a restaurant, the customers get great wine at supermarket or wine shop prices! This allows you to ratchet up the quality of wine you order, with no fear of being gouged.

Our luncheon party included Disco, Pat, Stacey, Bill, Robin, Doug, Marti and me.

Back at the apartment, we were getting ourselves organized to go to soundcheck when I accidentally stumbled over the cheesy little stacking tables in front of the sofa and crashed into one of my new Sony speakers. The speaker wasn't damaged, but as I was to discover later, I had been. The wound on my shin would plague me for the rest of the tour.

Pat, Disco and I cabbed over to the New Morning for the soundcheck. It was good to see all the guys again. I congratulated Wayne on his tenth anniversary with the band. He said the time had flown so quickly that he could hardly believe it had been that long.

I was hanging for awhile with a French magazine photographer who posed the band in a lineup shot in front of the stage. (Later I learned that he had gotten into a scuffle with the security people and been thrown out before the show began!)

While our tapehead friends were busily building their world near the soundboard, Disco Don was workin’ out his choreography. I know that the band wanted the place cleared of tapers and hangers-on just before the actual check, which was a new song for them: the ten-year-old fIREHOSE tune "Sometimes."

How I escaped the room clearing is beyond me, but I just sat quietly talking amongst myself and nobody asked me to screw on outta there. This band is by far the most gracious and hospitable of any I've encountered.

After soundcheck I hooked up with Todd, J.B., Sam, Mikey, Sunny and JoJo (a former city boy who had been walking the streets of Paris all afternoon) and led them over to the nearby Passage Brady, where there are a lot of Indian and Pakistani restaurants, grocery stores and Third World barbershops. We assembled around a long outside table under the glass roof of the passage, but J.B. and JoJo were in more of a drinkin' than eatin' mood, so we left the others and walked up to the Motown Bar, near the Gare de l'Est railroad station.

The Motown Bar has nothing to do with 1960s Detroit R&B. In fact it's a Parisian late-night gay hangout. The bar and restaurant are owned by the parents of Isabel, the partner of Christophe Rossi, editor of the French drummers mag BATTEUR, and drummer for the Paris-based Grateful Dead cover band Deadicace.

I phoned Marti and suggested that she taxi to the bar to meet me for the show. Isabel and her dad were there and I introduced them to J.B. and JoJo. We got a table near the open-to-the-street section of the restaurant. Christophe arrived with Deadicace guitarist Stephane Missri and Jean-François, another friend, then Marti showed up. J.B. and JoJo welcomed her warmly. She had not seen them since last summer at the Bataclan.

This was a sweet, laid-back pre-show hang. J.B. and I talked baseball; both his Indians and my Red Sox were in the American League pennant race. Marti asked after J.B.'s bride Laura, whom she’d met and enjoyed hanging with during the Chesterfield Café run. We all walked back together to the New Morning after an hour or so.

The joint was jumpin'. Hanno Bunjes was here from Strasbourg. He was staying with us tonight. Ralph Metzger, on the heels of all those German dates and biergarten hangs, told folks he couldn't stand the weak, overpriced French beer served at the New Morning. Our pals Maria de LaGuardia and her French boyfriend Charles were in the house, along with a number of our friends from the Parisian Deadhead community.

Knowing that August is a dead month for live music in Paris, I had contacted the show promoter, Assad Debs of Corida Productions, and given him a mailing list of area freaks. Corida sent out a flyer based on their concert poster. Marti and I had put up posters in a number of youth hostels and other locations around the city where we thought we might snag a few additional Americans to help fill up the club.

In the end there were maybe 200 folks in the club, ready for a rockin' Monday night in the City of Light.

1: C. Brown > Disco > Goin' Out West > Pleas > Barstools and Dreamers > It Ain't No Use > Blue Indian, Dyin' Man
2: Porch Song > Machine > Blight > Tall Boy > Fishwater > Drums > Fishwater > Impossible > Travelin' Light
E: Sometimes > Me And The Devil Blues > All Time Low

After the show Marti and I were hanging out backstage with Jojo. He was beaming. "I'm always happy when we get to do a new song!" The "Sometimes" encore had been a stone hit with the fans. The band was loading out. Next stop: Glasgow.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 1999 / PARIS > GLASGOW -- Travel day. This afternoon we were due to fly to Glasgow for tomorrow night's show. There were five of us getting organized as we regained consciousness in the morning. Five bags to pack: Pat, Disco, Marti and I were continuing our tour, Hanno was headed back to Strasbourg.

I had a nasty blood blister topping a huge lump on my left shin, plus a bruised ankle, from the previous afternoon's crash into the stereo speaker. I put a couple of band-aids over it and hobbled onward.

We had lunch down the street on the terrasse of the Tabac de la Mairie, so named because it sits across from the Mairie (Town Hall) of our quartier, la quinzieme arrondissement.

That was the last thing that went right today.

What transpired in the ensuing hours does not warrant recollection in detail. In fact, remembering it will only cause your correspondent's blood pressure to rise. Suffice it to say that our party of five weary pilgrims (with the addition of fellow Panic road warrior Chip Lassister) were subjected to a level of customer service best described as having been scraped off the street side of the Air France corporate shoe. Marti had gotten us all into the Air France lounge but through no fault of our own, we missed our flight to Glasgow. Arrrggghhhh!

We were rescheduled on a later flight to . . . Edinburgh. Our party cabbed from Edinburgh to Glasgow, where we were afforded a survivors’ welcome and the warm hospitality of our friends Marie and Kevin Devlin.

Marie is a British Telecom colleague of Marti's, whom we got to know on a trip to Rome in 1991. She and Kevin lived in Paris for a few years, had homes in Wimbledon, then Esher, England, before moving to Scotland. They were sweet to host us and our hippie posse. It was 11:30 p.m. when we arrived; we had originally planned to be there in time to take them out to dinner.

At least we finally made it to the land of whiskey-swillin' men in plaid skirts.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 1999 / GLASGOW -- This morning we met Marie and Kevin's little boy, Joseph. He's a year old and is a happysmileyguy. At least he was when we saw him. Reports had it that he had been an absolute terror over the weekend. Thankfully, he was now over whatever baby issues had been troubling him. We had brought Joseph an infant's track suit: red and blue sweatshirt and sweatpants. Because it's never too soon to start getting rid of that baby fat.

Marie and Kevin were getting ready for work, so I whipped up brekkie for our foursome. Bacon, eggs, the whole enchilada. Just breeze into someone else's kitchen and go to town.

Kevin gave us a ride into the city center, where Pat and Don had railroad station business. Then we cabbed over to the hip little Glasgow University quarter, for a bit of liquor (Scotch, of course) and CD shopping. I was feeling my shin injury by now; it would be taxis from here on out. I picked up some tasty '70s items in the CD shop, like Rick James' Greatest Hits and Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters. I also bought an all-weather jacket, a good thing to shop for in Scotland -- it's invariably raining.

Later Disco, Pat, Marti and I took Marie to lunch at a quaint little restaurant called The Puppet Theatre. Kevin was unavailable. The food there was excellent; the restaurant scene in the U.K. has certainly improved in recent years.

We did more shopping after lunch, then we picked up Disco's taping gear and headed to soundcheck. My leg was hurting pretty badly, so Deepesh gave me his little taper's stool to sit on.

Our Glasgow host Kevin Devlin arrived; Marie had a business commitment. Sam and J.B. thanked Kevin for his efforts in arranging a golf afternoon for Panic the day before. Unfortunately, working papers problems at Dover had detained the band bus for several hours. They missed their Scotland tee times. Now it was showtime. Indian Bone, a hot little indie band, kicked off the evening's entertainment. J.B. watched most of their set from the back of the crowd, then invited the Indian Bone guys to hang out with Panic after the show.

Pigeons > Weak Brain, Narrow Mind > Sleepy Monkey > One Arm Steve, Little Kin > Let It Rock > Christmas Katie > Arleen > Driving Song > Drums > Pusherman > Entering A Black Hole Backwards > Driving Song > Ain't Life Grand
E: Sleeping Man > Makes Sense To Me.

Widespread Panic had reverted to the long single set format, to the delight of the fans. This show had lots of great moments, but I spent a good part of it in a back booth with my injured leg elevated.

At one point a kind Spreadhead medical student took a look and got some first aid items to dress my wound. He disinfected it with vodka. He cautioned me to keep an eye on the healing. If anything turned color or weird-looking, I should see a doctor.

I did a little aftershow schmoozing, then we all piled into the Kevinmobile for the trip back to his place.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 1999 / MANCHESTER -- Marti was staying on one more day in Glasgow; we'd all reunite tomorrow in London. Pat, Disco and I trained to Manchester for the penultimate Panic concert of the Europe 1999 tour. I had a reserved seat, Pat and Don sat elsewhere. I worked on trip expense reports and listened to my Discperson for a couple of hours.

When the conductor announced that the bar car was open, I remember seeing a blur rush past me even before the loudspeaker had stopped crackling. It had been Disco and Pat, of course. A while later I went to the bar car myself and when I didn't see those two, I had them paged.

"Would Mr. Pat and Mr. Disco please join their colleague in the refreshment car," the dude broadcast to the rest of the pilgrims rollin' down the line. Pat said later it was one of his favorite moments on the tour.

We checked into our hotel in Manchester, then walked to the nearby Rain Bar for lunch. Disco had gone to Boots The Chemist to get me some dressings and antiseptic cream for my leg wound. We were romancing our cute waitress (I even put her on the guestlist), drinking the bar's own brews. I took an R and R break at the hotel to rest my leg, then the three of us cabbed over to soundcheck.

The venue -- the Hop and Grape (!) -- was a university student union. With nary a student in sight here in the dead of August. Plus they were doing heavy construction work on the building; it looked like Beirut. All the usual suspects were at this show, but there was nobody else. Maybe a half dozen locals. The crowd, if you can call it that, numbered 50 people!

This one was so intimate we were calling it the party at your mama's house!

Wondering > Blackout Blues, Can't Get High, Radio Child, Knocking 'Round The Zoo, Rebirtha > Do What You Like > Big Wooly Mammoth, Love Tractor > Drums > Party At Your Mama's House > Pilgrims > No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature
E: Nobody's Loss.

Everybody was a rail bird that night. A great opportunity to see Widespread Panic live in your face, with plenty of twirlin' and spinnin' room.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 1999 / MANCHESTER > LONDON -- This was it, the tour finale. Marti trained in from Glasgow; Disco, Pat and I rode the freak train from Manchester to London. A whole bunch of us were staying at the St. Margaret's Hotel, off Russell Square in Bloomsbury.

Marti and I love this part of the city and it was close to the Embassy Rooms, Panic's venue. In the big room next to ours were Bill Mixon, Stacey Gates and Jeff "Sequoia" McClean (who had produced a pair of excellent limited-edition bootleg teeshirts for this tour). Disco and Pat had rooms upstairs. And we kept running into more Panic heads every time we looked around.

A number of us gathered for lunch at Govinda, the Hari Krishna restaurant I'd mentioned in my June 1999 article on London for RELIX. After lunch I went to a web café to check my e-mail and post to my page.

Then we had beers at The Friend At Hand, a pub near the Russell Hotel. Marti and I went to soundcheck. Dave Schools sat down across from us in a booth and remarked that he had particularly enjoyed the Paris gig. I told him I hadn't seen a bad show on the tour. And I was sorry it was almost over.

Starting tomorrow Schools and Mikey were going on vacations in England and around Europe with their respective squeezes. They could hardly wait.

I spotted Sam Lanier heading out for fish 'n' chips and I asked if Marti and I could join him. Sure, he replied.

We walked all the way down the Tottenham Court Road with me limping on my fucked-up leg. But it was worth it, in more ways than one.

The fish 'n' chips were great. Sam smiled and said, "You know, Phil, you've really got to see us in the States, with our full sound and all the lights. Why don't you come to New Orleans for Halloween?"

I was bowled over. Needless to say, I took Sam up on his offer immediately. I had already scheduled a November flight to the U.S., to visit my mom in Massachusetts. All I had to do was change the dates of the booking!

Sam walked back up to the gig. Marti and I took a taxi, because of my hurtin' leg. When we got to the venue, the place had a special end-of-tour vibe to it.

I was wearing my Alien glasses, partying with everyone in the room. Bill Pannifer, who runs the London-based Deadheads website Franklin's Tower was in the house. So was a fan from Sweden. And a number of limeys who are into Panic.

We were ready to rock it one more time, Panic was ready to get down to business.

Let's Get Down To Business, Papa Legba, Bear's Gone Fishin' > Hatfield > Porch Song > The Waker, Dyin' Man, Diner > Drums > Let's Get The Show On The Road > Fishwater, Surprise Valley > Stop-Go > Climb To Safety
E: Sometimes > All Time Low

That was it. One last one-set extravanganza. Loved that "Climb To Safety" closer. And here was the new item, "Sometimes," kicking off the encore. A super night.

The show was over. The tour was over. But it seemed like no one was leaving the Embassy Rooms anytime soon.

Way back in Hannover Schools had been whining that he didn't have any mementoes signed by the fans, so we presented him tonight with a New Morning poster that I had been toting from town to town, collecting Spreadhead autographs for Dave. He was thrilled, he said.

I looked around. It seemed like half the audience stayed for the aftershow.

I had a marvelous time on this run. What great fun getting to know and gettin' down with folks like Pat, Disco, Deepesh, Stacey, Bill, Sequoia, Harmut, Ralph, Laurie, Chip, Rudi, Hanno and so many other fine peeps. Marti and I said goodbye to all our Spreadhead pals and the crew and the musicians, but my farewell was made less bittersweet by the fact that I was going to New Orleans for the three-night Halloween run.

This all began for me with ten nights at the Chesterfield Café. Over the past 18 months I had seen 20 Panic shows, all in Europe and none before a crowd of more than 400 people. Not that I'm complaining!

Now I was gonna see the real deal -- make that surreal, it would be Nawlins.