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2008 Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductions

                                    2008 Georgia Music Hall of Fame
                                                  Atlanta, Georgia
                                              By James Calemine

Last night's Georgia Music Hall of Fame ceremony was an unforgettable evening. Widespread Panic, along with Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Keith Sweat, Hamp Swain, Dottie Rambo and Fred and Dinah Gretsch were inducted were inducted into the prestigious hall of legendary Georgia Musicians.  These artists now share the status with other luminaries such as Otis Redding, James Brown, Little Richard, Blind Willie McTell, Gram Parsons, R.E.M. and Ma Rainey.

I was asked by Widespread Panic to write their bio for the ceremony. I was honored to go on the record for the band. One always seems a bit apprehensive to attend a formal affair in the name of rock and roll, but it didn't take long upon arriving that this evening would prove to be quite singular. It was good to carry the Swampland flag at such a honorary evening.

I sat with Panic drummer Todd and his wife Tammy, Eric Carter and his date Beverly, Greta Bettis, Charlie Pruitt along with Daniel and Kristy Hutchens. The event was held at the World Congress Center. It was a packed event and everyone stood out in the huge lobby checking everyone out in such formal attire. It was a sight to see all these people, performers and old friends under one roof for such a prestigious event--like some grand family reunion.

 The food was good--chicken, salmon, mashed potatos, salad, bread, wine, dessert and a room full of stars. Another inductee, Keith Sweat and his family sat at the table next to ours. Panic's John Bell and Dave Schools' tables were to our right. Ludacris was three tables in front of us. My bud Bruce Burch sat a few tables behind ours and Fred and Dinah Grettsch were to our left.  Of course, the event was televised and will be played in heavy rotation on Georgia Public TV in the next months.

 During the evening old inductees photos and video montages played on the two huge screens in the room. To see all those music greats flash before your eyes verified the musical legacy of the south...Georgia in particular. Every artist got their moment in the sun. Classy acts on every side. For me, tributes to all the deceased artists proved moving. I thought the speech by Ludacris was very good. He said this award outweighed his movie and other music awards because it was from his home state and he was very convincing. Hamp Swain, the legendary radio man stood out in my mind as a purveyor of early radio, gave a good speech. Widespread Panic closed the show. JB's speech left no stone un-turned. He thanked everyone from his bandmates to roadies to songwriters (Danny and Eric by name) to promoters who helped the band in their career. Chuck Leavell inducted Panic, and he even sat in with them. Panic played a new song from Free Somehow--"Up All Night", "Ain't Life Grand", and they closed the show with "Georgia".

Panic's private after-show party was held on the rooftop of Maxime Prime, which allowed for a overwhelming view of Atlanta. At the party I talked with Dave Schools, Jimmy Herring, Jojo Hermann, Bruce Burch, Tammy Nance (I hated to hear Todd fell ill and stayed in his hotel room), Ike Stubblefield, Danny, Eric, Chuck Leavell, Athens mayor (who attended the same high school as this writer) Gwen O'Looney and the Ditty Gritty Dirt Band drummer Jimmie Fadden. It was also to see some of those old Athens friends like Charlie Pruitt, Greta Bettis and Karey Fulford. To them all, I raise my glass and bow my head in the utmost respect.

It felt good to be in the company with all those greats. Rock and roll never forgets...

Photos:
Dave Schools & Sonny Ortiz of Widespread Panic Perform at Ceremony
Chuck Leavell & JC
Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter of Bloodkin with JC

 

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