Street Dogs combines Widespread's originals with three covers: Willie Dixon's "Taildragger," Alan Price's "Sell Sell" and Murray McLauchlan's "Honky Red." Certain songs -- including "Steven's Cat" and "Angels Don't Sing the Blues" -- were written by the band in the studio. The jaunty boogie of "Street Dogs For Breakfast," meanwhile, started with an idea from John "JoJo" Hermann that's grounded in his particular sense of humor and whimsy.
"The street dog vendor is a kind of theme that ties a New York experience together with a New Orleans experience, because those are two consistent landmarks of each of those two places," Bell explains. "And JoJo was classically trained up in New York, where he grew up, and he transplanted himself down to New Orleans, so the combination there makes sense. Obviously it's very much a partying type of atmosphere. Me interpreting it -- and JoJo might say I'm full of it -- I feel it's looking back at some of our days where we were hard-charging a little more than we are now."
Those looking for some chuckles can also check out "Steven's Cat." According to Bell, it's an homage of sorts to one of the band's surprising musical heroes. "If you dive into the lyrics you can see there's many nods to Cat Stevens songs," Bell says. "It's pretty obvious. Y'know, when you're together for 30 years as a band, you should be able to just not take yourselves very seriously. It was a lot of fun, very satisfying with that particular song. Everything thought it was just all in good fun."
Widespread Panic Subs For Allmans At Bonnaroo
After taking a break during the second half of the summer, Widespread returns to the road Sept. 4 for the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago and will also play at the Lockn' Festival in Virginia as well as multi-night stands in Milwaukee, Asheville and Atlanta. The group still features Duane Trucks -- the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks and Widespread bassist Dave Schools' bandmate from Hard Working Americans -- on drums filling in for Todd Nance, who's on personal leave. But Bell says that situation will be changing soon, too. "Todd was just taking care of some personal stuff, and Duane's definitely part of the family because he's Jimmy (Herring)'s son-in-law. It's been fun playing with him. But Todd's on his way back: he's planning to be back the beginning of next year."