With 2004 nearly behind us, I find myself reflecting upon a year that has proven to be far more exciting musically than I had anticipated. Going into the year knowing it would be “the year without Widespread Panic,” I had no idea that 2004 would, for me at least, become a time of discovery.
It’s been many years, 17 to be exact, since I discovered a young band that excited me the way Tishamingo has throughout this past year. Having listened to their self-titled debut CD, and a single live recording, it was readily apparent to me that this band had all the ingredients for success. When I finally saw them live, a brief four-song set during the Warren Zevon benefit in Athens, I was hooked.
Rarely has a band ever come into my life and instantly touched my soul, becoming a part of my being from that first moment of introduction. Led Zeppelin was the first, followed by Widespread Panic. Gov’t Mule and Phil Lesh’s Quintet did the same, but those bands were both compromised of known commodities, musicians I’d known and loved for years.
The fact that I made the discovery this January, just as Panic began their self-imposed hiatus, was more than ironic, far from coincidental. While I was certainly not looking for a new band to fill that void, what I heard, saw, and felt as I witnessed the musical prowess of Tishamingo was the EXACT same thing I’d felt during my first Panic experience in January 1987. Way back then, the REM-lovin’ crowd dominated Athens and was quick to mock Panic as “just another Grateful Dead rip-off.” Obviously, time proved those close-minded comments to be far from true.
While comparisons to Panic, and the Allman Brothers for that matter, are inevitable, it should be taken as the highest form of compliment. At times, Cameron Williams’ vocals are so similar to John Bell’s that it’s down right haunting, all the while sounding natural as can be. Jess Franklin’s slide guitar would fit right in with the Brothers and the rhythm section of Stephen Spivey and Richard Proctor is as tight as they come. Add keyboard wizard Jason Fuller (who I still say needs to leave the Kinchafoonee Cowboys behind to devote his full efforts to Tishamingo), and you have the makings of a band on par with the finest I’ve ever seen.
As often the case with young, grass roots bands, the masses have yet to discover the magic that is Tishamingo. Years from now, when history reflects upon this era of rock, there’s no doubt that it will place Tishamingo amongst the finest of bands to come from the early 21st century.
Only time can tell just what this sensational young group is capable of. At this point in their career, this much is certain –Tishamingo has a believer in me, one who says to all reading these words…
TESTIFY, Tishamingo is for real!