Artist of the Week

Jimmy Herring Beyond Widespread Panic

Posted by tbaker |

By Anna VanHorn

Jimmy Herring is a master of musical technique and artistry. In short, he’s a virtuoso. Throngs of adoring fans flock to see him skillfully fulfill his duties as lead guitarist to one of the trailblazers of Jamband music — Widespread Panic.

Currently though, Herring is stepping outside of the arenas in favor of smaller venues to promote his solo work and the release of his new album, Subject to Change Without Notice. It is at George’s Majestic Lounge on Monday, Sept. 24, where Fayetteville will be treated to a show by a man that can accurately be described as a guitar genius.

Known for his unbounded improvisations, Herring employs long, fluid phrases that are both exhilarating and soulful. His playing is both technically complex and emotionally rich. Listeners are treated to solos that wail with ferocious energy, as well as pieces showing easy restraint that point out the beautiful subtleties of his playing. Never predictable, his music has no definitive stylistic theme. Jazz, rock, funk, fusion and bluegrass refrains all blend organically to form his sound that earned Herring respect and adoration from the musical world and fans alike.

Stepping into the role of Widespread Panic’s lead guitarist isn’t Herring’s first go-round as band member in the company of brilliant musicians. He is a founding member of Col. Bruce and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z and Jazz is Dead. He’s played with scores of accomplished players ranging from The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends and Bela Fleck, among others. Without a doubt, Herring has made his indelible impact on the music world.

Aug. 21, 2012 saw the release of Herring’s second solo album Subject to Change Without Notice through Abstract Logix Records. The album features eight original songs and a cast of musicians equally impressive as Herring himself. First-rate players such as Neal Fountain, Etienne Mbappe (both on bass), Jeff Sipe, Tyler Greenwell (both on drums), Matt Slocum (piano/keys) round out Herring’s band on the album, with guest appearances by Bela Fleck (banjo), Bill Evans (sax) and Nicky Sanders (violin). In addition to the original material, the album features three amazing covers of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Hope,” The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” (written by George Harrison) and Jimmy McGriff’s “Miss Poopie.”

His appearance on the George’s stage will mark the 11th show of his 31 scheduled shows that will span three months. Those who are already fans of Herring’s will no doubt be thrilled to see his sparkling set that is sure to be a wild musical ride with Herring at the wheel. Audience members new to the wonder that is Jimmy Herring will more than likely leave as fans, or at the very least in awe of his undeniable talent.

Opening the concert that night is the immensely gifted local guitarist, Isayah Warford and his band, Isayah’s Allstars. Appearing alongside Warford will be the considerable talents of local musicians Dave Gesualdo, Stingray and Matt Smith.

Monday is not a night typically known for its ability to garner a party crowd, but you can bet that George’s is going to be busting at the seams, musically speaking. Herring is the kind of musician that makes a person sit up and take notice of what is going on. Without demanding it, his playing commands attention based on the sheer devotion to detail. “Delicate” seems too gentle a word to use, because the man can flat out rock a guitar, but it is an effortless intricacy that makes Jimmy Herring so interesting.

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