List: Fiddling Around With Widespread Panic, 6 Great Guest Fiddlers

It seems unlikely, but the sound of the fiddle just seems to fit right with Widespread Panic's improv-heavy southern rock sound.

Inspired by a few recent sit-ins, I put together this list of notable jams featuring the violin throughout their history.

1.  There is no other fiddler that this list could possibly have started with than David Blackmon.  A frequent guest from the early days, not only on stage, but also on the group's studio albums, Blackmon was a fixture and his many performances with the band throughout the eighties and nineties surely inspired at least a few of the remaining guests on this list.

Oddly, Blackmon hasn't been back onstage with the band since he was  temporarily paralyzed after a freak frisbee accident.  Regardless, his many contributions have established quite a legacy.  From the version on Space Wrangler, the combination of "Take Out" > "Porch Song" is the consummate Panic fiddle tune -- here's a rare video of that combo from 12/31/92.

2. More recently, the band has seemed to gel with Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers.  He has shared the stage three times over the last several weeks, including this version of "Genesis" from L.A., which also features sign language interpreter Edie Jackson.

Grateful Dead
videos to her YouTube account in 2007, the undeniably talented fiddler was in for a hell of a year in 2008.

Not only did she get a couple of guest spots with Panic that year, she also played with Foo Fighters at the Grammys and with Ringo Starr on several television appearances.  In 2009, she performed for the President at the White House.  Eventually earning a spot in SuperHeavy, a supergroup with Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart.

Here she is on "Driving Song" > "Surprise Valley" from Raleigh 2008 -- which could be my favorite jam on this list.  Not only easy on the ears, but also easy on the eyes.

4.  In 2010, Panic played their second run at the legendary Ryman Theater in Nashville, TN.  To put a cap on the three night run, they invited a guest every bit as legendary as the room they were playing.  The one and only Charlie Daniels fiddled his way through "Ain't Life Grand", "Who Do You Belong To?" and "Fixin' To Die" to open up the second set on 10/7 and YouTuber stevesm57 was there  to catch it with these outstanding videos.

5.  Dave Matthews Band fiddler Boyd Tinsley made his only appearance with Panic all the way back on February 23, 1994, before DMB went supernova and became the household name that they are today.  The "Driving" > "Disco" > "Driving" sequence is always a winner -- but even better with a little fiddle and punctuated with a "Love Tractor".  Dig it (though an audio upgrade would be nice).

6.  Does this count as a fiddle?  To celebrate Earth To America, Panic's show at the Fox Theater on May 9th, 2006 sported a guest spot by the entire Phuket Chamber Orchestra, who also appeared on the record, and of course feature Chris Melchior on violin.  The show was simulcast to theaters, and released to DVD, but oddly, no footage exists on YouTube.  Here's an audio stream of "Second Skin".

One final note.  Legendary fiddler and one time Jerry Garcia bandmate, Vassar Clemens appeared at the October 25, 2003 show outside of Nashville on "Take Out", "Pickin Up The Pieces" and "Porch Song".  However, no recording circulates.  Whoa.

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