Shifting scene gives way

Tishamingo filling the void left by other bands

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With Widespread Panic taking 2004 off from the road, with String Cheese Incident in Europe, Australia and Japan until summer, and with Phish playing fewer and fewer shows, a musical void is waiting to be filled. Tishamingo is ready to fill it.

"We're starting to see some of that crowd," said Cameron Williams, guitar player for Tishamingo. "With the shift in the scene, there definitely leaves a little more room for people to see other music."

What: Tishamingo When: 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday Where: Tugboat Grill and Pub, 1860 Ski Time Square Drive Cover: $5 Call: 879-7070

It's a matter of timing, he said. "When we started this band, we didn't know this was going to happen."

He thinks the reason "that crowd" is interested in Tishamingo is the band's grassroots way of getting heard. Instead of following the traditional path of recording an album, then shopping it around to labels, Tishamingo got its name out by traveling and playing from the stage.

"That's the way Widespread did it," Williams said. "I think the crowd that's attracted to that kind of music is looking for bands that aren't just trying to get a song on the radio."

Tishamingo plays a guitar-heavy brand of Southern rock that sounds a lot like Gov't Mule, played on vintage instruments through vintage amplifiers.

Williams plays a Les Paul that was given to him by a friend who caught it at a Soundgarden show after it had been broken on stage. Williams fixed the neck and brought it back to the stage.

The four musicians grew up together in Tallahassee, Fla. Later, Williams and drummer Richard Proctor were living in Atlanta, while guitar player Jess Franklin and bass player Stephen Spivey were in Tallahassee

"We knew we wanted to be in a band together, but we didn't have the money to live in Atlanta, and Tallahassee had too many distractions," Williams said. They chose Athens, Ga.

They rented a farm in nearby Watkinsville. Most of the music on their first album, "Whiskey State of Mind," due for release the day before they play in Steamboat Springs, was written at the farmhouse.

"We weren't touring as much. No one knew who we were," Williams said. "That's kind of why we wanted to go there, to isolate ourselves and write music. Now we're touring a lot. I'm so glad we had those two years at the farmhouse."

For their first album, they chose producer John Keane. Keane produced projects for Widespread Panic, R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs. His reputation preceded him.

"We listened to the album he just finished. It sounded great," Williams said. "And he's a great musician himself."

Proctor wrote the album's title track, "Whiskey State of Mind," long before he joined Tishamingo.

"It's definitely one of the songs we enjoy playing, usually toward the end of the set," Williams said. "The content is pretty obvious."

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