CMH has released a number of albums that give fans of the Grateful Dead, David Grisman, and a number of others an entirely new way to enjoy their favorite bands. Pickin' on Widespread Panic bursts out of the stalls with "Travelin' Light," an up-tempo romp with incredible guitar work by Brian Hillmann. Keeping within the jam band tradition, this instrumental unfolds for over six minutes, letting everyone -- fiddler, mandolinist, and banjo player -- have a piece of the action. Drummer Jenny Nixon, percussionist Chris Larson, and bassist John Marsh propel tunes like "Blue Indian" and "All Time Low" forward, making sure this music always has an unyielding foundation. Kenny Blackwell's mandolin kickoff on "Coconut," followed by a sassy violin lead by David Blackmon, hurls the piece into motion. Tracks like "The Take Out" and "Porch Song" are spiced up by dobroist Barry Waldrep. Pickin' on Widespread Panic utilizes three different bands to perform these songs, and this approach -- putting musicians together who are used to playing with one another -- works well. Widespread Panic fans will gladly find a spot for this mostly acoustic set among their extensive bootleg collections. Bluegrass fans, if they're the progressive sort, will find proper storage for Pickin' on Widespread Panic somewhere between their David Grisman and Vassar Clements CDs. With this tribute, everyone wins.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.