by Mike Corrigan

"We're doing really well right now, and I have no idea why," says Bob Gallagher of local alt-country band the Panics. "I mean, we've been around forever."

He's not kidding. Although known primarily as the "guy behind the counter" at Spokane's oldest independent CD/record store, 4,000 Holes, Gallagher has been a mainstay of the local club scene for decades in various rock, roots and country configurations.

The Panics' sound has evolved slightly since forming about 10 years ago. And a recent lineup tweaking has brought about further changes for the band. The current lineup includes Gallagher and Mick May on guitar, Greg Kane on drums and Steve Sackett on bass.

"We're roots rockers," explains Gallagher. "I know the newspaper likes to call us 'classic rock,' which irks me all the time. I guess people can't think of guys our age doing originals. But we don't do a lot of covers. We never have. The only time we do covers is when we get paid, like a New Year's party or something. We've been writing and playing more country-ish stuff lately. And we're so much more focused now and distinctive."

The band is also in high demand these days. They've recently come off a couple of high-profile shows at the Met and are scheduled to play a Green Party gig at the new Mother Goose Coffeehouse in January.

"The funny thing is, we've never really tried to get anywhere, just stay focused on writing and recording our own stuff."

Onstage, the Panics exhibit a startling degree of synergy, a direct result of the members' long-time collaboration.

Gallagher and Kane have been playing together since 1980. May has been in the camp for the past nine years. And though Sackett has only been a part of the Panics for the past three years, he's played with Gallagher in various other bands for the past 25 years.

"We click real easy," says Gallagher. "It feels really good."

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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