Episode 127: Widespread Panic’s John Bell

Episode 127 of The JamBase Podcast, a partner of the Osiris Media Network, features an interview with Widespread Panic guitarist John Bell. JamBase’s Scott Bernstein recently spoke with Bell about the band’s recently released demos collection, Miss Kitty’s Lounge, and more.

Bell chatted with Bernstein from his home in North Carolina last week via a video chat. JB talked about how the band put its focus on getting Miss Kitty’s Lounge ready for release once the pandemic started. The 14-song collection of demos was recorded in 1990 at producer John Keane’s studio in Athens, Georgia by the Widespread Panic lineup, which at the time consisted of Bell, Dave Schools, Mikey Houser, Todd Nance and Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz.

Bell explained that the goal of the original sessions was to produce a quality demo to shop to labels who were interested in signing the band. JB spoke about his experience listening to the recordings 30 years later and how the group forged a relationship with Keane and his uncanny ability to mix professionalism with a sense of humor.

Miss Kitty’s Lounge was recorded mostly live as Bell discussed. The Athens native also spoke about why Widespread Panic originals are credited to the whole band. While most of the songs on Miss Kitty’s Lounge have remained staples of the WSP repertoire, JB went on to discuss why live performances of “L.A.” or “Liza’s Apartment” have been rare in recent years. The demos eventually led to Widespread Panic signing with Capricorn Records. Bell recalled their time on the legendary label. Additionally, JB talked about collaborating with saxophonist Randall Bramblett and Phish keyboardist Page McConnell for the demos featured on Miss Kitty’s Lounge.

2022 marks 20 years since the death of Widespread Panic lead guitarist and namesake Michael Houser. Bell looked back at the decision the band made to move forward in the wake of Mikey’s death. Other topics discussed were the cover art for Miss Kitty’s Lounge made by Houser’s wife, the potential for a new Widespread Panic studio album, the group’s upcoming August run in Atlanta and the enthusiasm brought to the band by drummer Duane Trucks.

This episode is sponsored by Section 119. Section 119 offers a diverse range of quality Grateful Dead, Donut pattern, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and other music related apparel. JamBase is honoring the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s historic Europe 72 tour with a retrospective look back at each of 22 performances that took place between April 7 and May 26 in partnership with Section 119. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead ’72 European tour with Section 119’s Limited Edition Hoodies. Section 119 dug deep into the archive of the Grateful Dead to build 22 unique hoodies with the actual amazing artwork from each show of the tour. Only 72 pieces inspired by each show will be sold.

Hear Episode 127 of The JamBase Podcast via all major podcast services including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Podcast.