Widespread Panic Live From The Backyard In Austin TX

It hasn't been that long since Widespread Panic released their first DVD, Live At Oak Mountain, which might make this seem a bit premature. But, when the events surrounding the band's past year are considered, Live From the Backyard is a bold move. Just before departing for their annual summer tour last year, it was announced that guitarist Michael Houser was dying of cancer and wouldn't be joining them. The band forged on, at Houser's insistence, with long-time friend George McConnell on guitar and Randal Bramlett on saxophone. The band, clearly in a state of flux, was preparing for the fact that founder Houser may never be back (he passed away later that summer) while also trying to decide where to go in the future. So, as a matter-of-fact time capsule, Live From the Backyard is excellent. A two-disc set, the first captures their entire Austin show from last July. It's interesting to hear McConnell's take on the band's repertoire. Instead of emulating Houser's style, he brings his own distinctive feel to fan favourites such as "Tall Boy" and "Weight Of The World" and fits in well with the band's mindset, even if the jamming contained within is more subdued. Cody and Luther Dickinson (from the North Mississippi Allstars) sit in with the band during part of the second set as well, which gives even more flavour to an already solid show. The second DVD is interesting, although it is more for fans than those new to the band. The content is primarily documentary in nature, featuring the band and their pastimes outside of the group. While it's neat to go shopping at Austin TX's Waterloo Records with bassist David Schools, the golf segment with bandleader John Bell borders on narcoleptic. The meeting the crew feature is a little stronger, but not recommended for party situations. Extras: photo gallery; "meet the crew" feature; exclusive band interview. (Sanctuary/EMI)