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Widespread Panic’s John Bell’s Upcoming Charity ‘Classic & Concert’: Hannah’s Buddies

Posted: Jan 12, 2011

John Bell's Upcoming Hannah's Buddies 'Classic & Concert'

Yesterday I conducted Part Two of my recent interview series with Widespread Panic’s singer/guitarist John Bell. We discussed various landmark upcoming Widespread Panic topics, but today’s excerpt revolves around Bell’s annual charitable event called Hannah’s Buddies.

12 years ago Bell started hosting a golf tournament & concert with proceeds donated to battle Spinal Muscular Atrophy. When he discovered his goddaughter was stricken with the disease, he originated an inimitable charity. This year, the events occur January 21st & 22nd at the Grand Cypress Golf Club and the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida.

There was six inches of snow on the ground when I spoke with JB on the phone yesterday. He was talking to me safely tucked away in Clarkesville, Georgia, at the Cedar Heights Center, a holistic wellness center operated and owned by his wife Laura. As usual, JB personified laid-back and friendly. In this excerpt, he provides a glimpse into Hannah’s Buddies. More on JB/Panic later...JC

James Calemine: Talk about how you started this annual charity outing because of your goddaughter Hannah.

John Bell: Well, I was over at her folks place and it was her first birthday party. So, we had 15 one-year olds running around. At that age you see some of the kids walk and crawl at that stage in the game. We noticed Hannah was pulling herself more than actually getting her knees into it. With all these kids to compare to that was the first time we noticed. They took her to the doctor the next day to find out what was going on, and she had Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

JC: You organized the event around golf and music…

JB: I always play solo. Each year, I mix it up. Sometimes I get Kevn Kinney, Jerry Joseph, or Sam Holt. Sometimes I do it on my own. I’ll go out and play an hour on my own. This year, the Drive by Truckers are going to finish it out. They’ve got some spunk.

JC: You’ve spent some time on the golf course…

JB: I used to play a lot when I was in high school. For about five minutes I thought about taking it seriously. By the time of high school and college and partying came around…

JC: …You had a guitar in your hands more than a golf club…

JB: (Laughs) Yeah, that was my passion. It was girls and guitars more than golf. So, I quit playing for about 15 years. I still like it. I don’t have the chops like I used to, but I don’t throw as many clubs now either (laughs). I have a better attitude.

JC: Hopefully, the weather will be temperate.

JB: Yeah, well—that’s always the thing with golf in January. One year it was 70 degrees down there. We’ve had days where you're in long underwear, hats and you have to wait until the course thaws out before you can even play. So we’ll see what happens…


Fall 2010 John Bell Interview

The Six Degrees of Swampland: Widespread Panic



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