In the jamband world, Jimmy Herring may be best known as the guitarist for Widespread Panic. His work as a guitarist with Grateful Dead spin-off The Other Ones, and with the Allman Brothers Band, has not been forgotten, either.
When Herring takes to the road with his own bands, the spirit of his mentor, Col. Bruce Hampton, is at the fore.
Herring brings his latest project, The 5 of 7, to Harvester Performance Center on Thursday. Every member of this group was at one time in one of Hampton’s acts. Herring first came to wider attention with Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That band opened for the likes of Phish, Blues Traveler and Herring’s future band mates in Widespread. The ARU’s self-titled, 1992, live, debut album is a work of art.
His mates at the Harvester — bassist Kevin Scott, keyboardist Matt Slocum, drummer Darren Stanley and guitarist/singer Rick Lollar — were part of later Hampton incarnations. The shouter (not singer), guitarist and chazoidist (look it up) passed into legend in May 2017, after collapsing onstage during the encore of his own, star-studded birthday concert. He was 70. Herring, Scott and Slocum were part of the show, along with Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Popper, Widespread Panic leader John Bell and others.
When Herring came to Jefferson Center in August 2017 with his instrumental jazz-fusion act The Invisible Whip, which also included Scott and Slocum, he talked about Hampton’s influence on them all. The key, Hampton taught, was to drop the ego and let the music through. Only three months had passed since Hampton died.
“He’s our muse. He’s our mentor. He’s like a father figure to us. He’s our best friend. He’s just everything to us,” Herring said. “He taught us the ropes, and we came up through his school basically — the school of Hampton — which is almost an anti-school, by the way.”