Dating back to 1986, Widespread Panic cultivated a dedicated audience for their jazz and blues influenced Southern rock by constantly touring. The group holds the record for the most sold out shows at Red Rocks in Colorado with 60.Typically the band will play multiple nights at a venue with each show consisting of two sets of largely unscripted improvisational music.
John Bell and Michael Houser met in 1981 at the University of Georgia and began playing as a duo. In 1984 the pair added bassist Dave Schools and in 1986 childhood friend Todd Nance joined as drummer with the group making their first appearance as Widespread Panic. By 1992 the band had reconfigured and began a nationwide tour and in 1993 had their first national record release.
Widespread Panic had their most active years in the late 90s and early 2000s. A free CD release party in Athens drew a crowd of more than 80,000 and the band headlined two nights at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. In 2002 the group lost founding guitarist Michael Houser to pancreatic cancer. A second founder, drummer Todd Nance passed away in 2020.
While the band does not tour as extensively as in earlier years, they do have many dates scheduled for this year. They also have released a steady stream of concert recordings taken from their decades of live shows.