Jimmy Herring, and why message boards suck

8 months.

That's roughly the amount of time before a segment of the message board population decided that Jimmy Herring wasn't the right fit for Widespread Panic.

"He plays too many notes–a hit of valium and he'd be perfection." 

"A lot of his solos sound more like Van Halen than Panic…"

"…he uses the "super fast" licks as kind of a "crutch"…he starts playing fast and in his own style."


All these are quotes from various posters on various message boards on the Internet this month…the last one is my favorite.

They're all pretty unbelievable, in fact.  Widespread Panic has had its share of drama over the past few years.  They dealt with the passing of arguably the most vital member of the group in 2002, as Michael Houser, the band's namesake and essentially its sound, passed away on August 10.  Instead of taking a break, they brought on longtime friend George McConnell to take over on lead guitar.  It took very little time for the hordes to turn on George, and my, the hate was deep.

However, I'm still not certain that the criticism of Jimmy didn't come quicker.  Perhaps it's directly related to the shock of Houser's passing – many were in shock, and most still are.

Either way, though, there are just some people who are never going to get over the fact that the band has moved on.  Now, this segment of the fan base represents a mere fraction of those that hated George McConnell. 

It seems most aren't willing to give the guy the massive credit he deserves.  He was basically doomed from the start.  He was following an icon, and his sound, his tone – well, everything about his playing – was NOTHING like Houser's.  The shoes he had to fill were huge, and George's feet just weren't big enough, but no one's were.

The irony of the situation today is that Jimmy sounds more like George than he does Houser, and many more people are willing to accept Jimmy than George.

"he just ain't too good. He is extremely uncreative, repetitive and very passive in the band's shows." – 4/1999

Message board negativity is certainly nothing new, and isn't limited to music.  When basketball coach Billy Donovan decided to stay at the University of Florida instead of moving up to Lexington, Kentucky to coach the Wildcats, all hell broke loose on Catspause.com.  27,000 people were logged on to bitch, moan, and cry, and a good portion were Gator fans who logged on to goad the Kentucky faithful.

Message boards allow for a certain degree of anonymity – anyone can be anyone.  There are definitely those out there who get a kick out of stirring the pot (me included, on occasion).  People on message boards are fickle, and often a snowball effect takes place, where on person gets an idea, and it spirals out of control as the rest of the community either jump on board in support or side with the opposition.  For the most part it's all in good fun, but there are also those out there who take it too far, and a few who take things too seriously.

The bands most definitely log on and read what the masses say – to think otherwise is foolish.  I was at a Trey show one summer where he even commented on how the reviews of his previous night's concert were awful.

Back to the Herring/McConnell/Houser issue – that quote above (from 4/99) – that's written about Houser.  Even he is not immune to message board hate, although people tend to forget.