Sound studio

Jammin’ in the 90s to a new sound

In 1993, I was a sophomore at the University of Florida (or a point of order, considering the handful of credits under my belt – let’s say I was a sophomore).

After wrapping up a glorious first-year campaign, Steve Spurrier was our football coach, promised Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and managed to navigate the freshman year of the college experience to a soundtrack of mostly “grunge” music (pearl jam, Chained Aliceetc.) in Florida.

I also don’t think I attended too many live shows that year, with the exception of the Black Creek Banda group of our friends who were building a massive following in the Sunshine State.

However, that was all about to change drastically as 1993 brought the jam band scene to my doorstep loud and clear like Al Czervick (Rodney Dangerfield) performing at the Bushwood Country Club.

In 1993, my girlfriend Erin was ground zero for me on this music. She spent her freshman year of college at the University of Georgia and transferred to UF with some cool CDs in tow.

Two I Clearly Remember was Phish’s debut albumJunta” and the eponymous album of Widespread Panic (which was their second record). WOW.

Just like Ratt and Motley Crue blew my mind when I was 13, these bands were doing the same thing I was doing when I was 19. Simultaneously, as previous generations had enjoyed similar tunes from the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothersit was our generation of hippie bands, and they were starting to play all over Florida.

Let’s call these bands the Big 4 of the jam band scene because they were driving the boat (Phish, Widespread, Dead, Allmans). With some other tracks in the mix of course like Zappa WHO Tulane Teddy introduced me and then there was Dylan who my friend bonny gave me the crash course on.

OK, the first listen to Phish was, what is this (much like Frank Zappa mentioned earlier)?

These musicians were obviously talented, but it was so sonically goofy, gems such asContact”, “Fluffhead” and “Fee” were far from normal songs, but very eclectic and fun to listen to.

However, you really can’t “discover” this band until you’ve seen them live.

Then comes the Widespread album. “Walkin (for your love)” is an instant love song that taps your feet for the first time. Tracks like “Makes Sense to Me” and “C Brown” showed the depth and diversity of this outfit. As a bonus, the guitar sound was chainsaw, Michael Houser brought the thunder and future tunes like “Diner off Everyday” would really showcase that sound.

April 1995 The Grateful Dead play in Tampa, Florida with the Black Crowes opening the show.

Just as the guitar sound of Alice in Chains welcomed me into grunge metal music, Widespread did the same with that awesome tone.

Maybe that’s why I thought Phish sounded so clunky at first with the lack of a big Marshall stack and a Gibson hitting power chords.

Widespread Panic – 9/24/1994 – Gainesville, FL

OK, next would be the live shows, and before we talk about HQ (Gainesville) and Ground Zero for us, we have to talk about the first Dead show. Talk about a wild debut jam band show.

Erin told me in 1993 that she had tickets to two nights at the Atlanta Omni and a place to stay with an old pal from UGA. In the saddle, Erin and I were apart for most of the first night of March 21, 1993 (Dead shows before cellphone were a madhouse), but in a very stubborn way, I met people friendly and I hung out with them and spent the night at their place near the Omni.

Probably wouldn’t do this again (all that foreign danger stuff) but they were so hospitable and had seen dozens of shows and were blown away that this was my first.

The following night, after a taxi (I wrote down the address, a smart move) to where Erin and I prepared for an even better show, the final set of nights included ‘Sugar Magnolia’, ‘Uncle Johns Band”, “Franklins Tower” and SOOO many classics. It was unforgettable. The next day back to Florida for a year of amazing rock ‘n’ roll and even a few classes in between.

The camping crew before the June 1994 Super Jam show.

My first Widespread Panic gig was at Moon in Tallahassee (Scott Carwell did his thing then and still does today). Some interesting things about this show were that my friend Ali in Tallyintroduced me to his neighbor Turner and for me it was the first intro that led to a group of friends that I would spend the next few years (and some still today) with.

It was a unique mix of Jacksonville characters (Gina, DarbyTurner…) Tampa, (teil, DI …) and Tallahassee (and everywhere) who had the same friends from high school (and new friends in college) and we started going to the same shows all over the area.

At any given show, there were at least 50 members of this team present.

You know who you are and actually two of them, bonny and Ali, from whom I was inseparable for the concerts.

The three amigos? Bonnie, Clyde and Ali? Anyway, it was one thing – family, a live show family. Hell, in 1995 I was backpacking in Europe and met some of this crew (John, Blair, Keeleyetc).

This crew was everywhere. Especially at festivals, Super Jam in Athens with David Mathews and Widespread Panic in the pouring rain was epic.

I borrowed my grandparents’ van for that one or the 1994 HORDE tour with Widespread, blues traveler, Col Bruce, The samples and All good was as good as it gets for an all day jam band affair. wow.

(“Hey Sharp, I want to go to a concert,” I asked my brand new friend in the fraternity hallway; we left within an hour of the invitation. 1994. That guy in the hall ended up witnessing my wedding and vice versa.)

April 1994: Grateful Dead show in Miami.

In Gainesville in the 1990s (like most college towns), clubs had live music every night: Richenbachers, the Florida Theatre, Market Street, Dirty Nellies, Covered Dish, Brick City, Gatormeisters, the Swamp (for to name a few).

When the Big 4 weren’t around, you could see any night: Freddy Jones Band, Jupiter Coyote, What it is, big white underwear, Less than JakeDave Matthews, The samples, Grapes, big sky, spider monkey, Uncle Mingo, black stream, Top Sugar Groove, dingo fish, or a million others. Every night there was a great show to check out if you wanted. It was a real vibrant music scene.

As mentioned earlier, our friends from the Black Creek Band were stage favorites. Their lead singer Cam often led this crew into town; it was always a big party with a huge entourage of characters always with them.

They played bluesy southern rock and always filled the house. Plus they were solid human beings and never afraid to have a good time, well done to Jason F., richardCam, Good gameand Jason M..

However, when the big boys came to town, there was no cooler place to see them than the outdoor venue in the middle of UF’s campus called the Bandshell. I saw 3 of the Big 4 play there at the time, the Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic and Phish. The Allman Brothers have played there several times.

In fact, you can check out that throwback show here:

Also, back to Phish; I harassed them earlier while listening to the record. But the week of October 23, 1994, we caught Phish on a three-day run through Florida. First night in Ft. Lauderdale was in the Top 20 shows of all time. They blew up doors, the Sunrise Theater shook, walls and floors during the song “Run Like an Antelope” and I found out live that they had a booming guitar sound too.

The awkwardness of this first studio album was not reflected in the live show. They tore it up, the race ended at home at HQ with everyone I knew outside on a beautiful day at the Bandshell to hear the band at their peak, and they played Purple Rain by Prince? How cool is that?

The Allman Brothers (unlike the Dead in the mid-90s) were back at the top of the charts with their record, “Back Where it All Began.” Unlike the Dead shows we’ve seen (the next show was Tampa and we camped out with hundreds of other fans for the full hippie experience) which showed the band weren’t in top form (captions but a little haggard in the 90s). But the Allmans shredded, Warren Haynes killed him on the guitar, and dicky and Gregg were in the pocket as usual. When they played the bandshell at UF in November 1993, it had the vibe of a Southern-style Metallica gig.

It was also a Top 20 shows of all time.

Oh, and these shows were free for students thanks to the great folks at Student Government Productions at UF.

At that time, the shows, the bands, the songs, the venues (especially the ones in Florida) were something really special.

It was a time before the real world took hold of us before the bills and the liability. A time of friendship, a time of instant camaraderie, where the sharing and the spectacle were almost spiritual. This show family eventually grew (sort of), but they’re still here — this one’s for them. Kudos to you (as Panic’s lyrics say): “And there’s a party. Everybody is here. Everyone will leave at exactly the same time. It’s hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, so fun.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, author of the book “Professionally Distanced”, host of the Biz & Tech podcast and saw the Grateful Dead in Las Vegas on their last tour. It was the end of an era and a fantastic farewell to Jerry and Company as Dave Matthews opened every show and Widespread Panic played every night in town after the Dead show. You can reach Blake at [email protected].

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