Aspen Times Staff Writer
It is a Spreadheads’ fantasy: Widespread Panic, a Georgia jam-band capable of selling out three-night runs at Red Rocks, playing a surprise show at a tiny bar for a crowd of 100.
And a fantasy is what it was. Despite persistent rumors and crowds of fans flocking to Carbondale, Widespread Panic did not perform at the Ship of Fools bar Friday or Saturday.
Though fans and Ship of Fools management held out hope for the band’s arrival into Friday evening, by the early part of the night, the bar had announced it was refunding the $30 ticket price to all who had bought tickets. Instead of a Widespread Panic show, those in attendance had the consolation prize of hearing local band Sector 7-G.
Still, the prevailing mood among those who waited in line outside the bar for tickets beginning early Friday morning was one of acceptance. Even those who spent most of Friday waiting along Carbondale’s Main Street and paid $60 for a pair of tickets were never wholly convinced that Widespread Panic would actually appear.
“I was about 90 percent sure it was bullshit from the beginning,” said Bill Sullivan, who nevertheless got in line at 10 a.m. Friday. “Then when I got a ticket, I went to maybe 50-50. Then I went straight down to zero.”
Sullivan, a 31-year-old Gypsum resident and veteran of some 50 Widespread Panic concerts, was sympathetic to Ship of Fools management. “I thought they got caught up in the whirlwind” of b.s., he said.
He added that the Widespread no-show didn’t prevent him from having a memorable time.
“It was probably the best night in Carbondale history,” he said. “People traveled here from Salt Lake City, Denver. And nobody was too upset.”
“What it did was turn into a good excuse to go down to Carbondale and get drunk and laugh our asses off,” said Bryan Welker, a Basalt resident who went to Carbondale just before noon on Friday but never bought tickets. “Carbondale made out ” there were people everywhere telling a lot of Widespread/Ship of Fools jokes. It was fun to be part of the rumor.”
According to Ship of Fools owner Tom Flynn, the nonevent began several months ago when an occasional bar patron, David Mark Trujillo, allegedly told Flynn he could arrange for Widespread Panic to perform there. Flynn said he was dubious, but after several conversations, he gave Trujillo the OK, provided that no advance tickets be sold.
“The only way I was going to do it was, when the guys walked through the door and said, ‘Hi, we’re Widespread Panic,’ then we would do something,” said Flynn.
An officer reached at the Carbondale Police Department Sunday said he didn’t know whether an investigation into Trujillo’s activities had been launched.
This past Tuesday Travit Cunningham, who books musical acts for the Ship of Fools, contacted The Aspen Times about “a major label band” playing the bar this weekend. He mentioned the band was Widespread Panic, but asked that the name not be mentioned in the newspaper.
Cunningham told the Times that on Thursday, a truck would be unloading equipment for the concert. Various sources reported to the paper on Thursday and Friday afternoon that no such truck had been seen.
On Friday, Cunningham said he still believed Widespread Panic would be appearing. His information, however, ranged from an appearance by the whole band to several members of the six-piece group coming to jam.
Friday’s edition of the Aspen Daily News included a front-page story that quoted Cunningham as saying he had “100 percent” confirmation that the band would perform.
Early Friday afternoon, an employee at the band’s California-based publicist, the Brooks Co., called the Times. He told a reporter there was no performance by the band scheduled and that no one from the band would be appearing in Carbondale. A message on the band’s Web site also stated there were no performances scheduled in Colorado for the weekend.
By 11:30 p.m. Friday, the fantasy was at an end. All money had been refunded, and Flynn offered his apologies.
“I apologize to everybody if it caused problems for anybody,” he said.
Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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The town of Snowmass Village has its eyes on some safety improvements on Highline Road and a section of Brush Creek Road that will give pedestrians and cyclists a little more room to breathe on the side of the road.