Ten Michael Houser Era Widespread Panic Videos


All week long we’ve been celebrating the 30th anniversary of Widespread Panic with a series of features written by Chad Berndtson. Head here to read John Bell’s thoughts on constructing setlists over the years, follow this link for Dave Schools’ memories of Red Rocks and check out Duane Trucks insights on learning the band’s mighty repertoire. Yesterday we shared a full feature on 30 Years Of Panic featuring quotes from JB, Dave Schools and Duane Trucks. However, we couldn’t end our tribute to the band’s 30th anniversary without mentioning Widespread Panic founding guitarist Michael Houser.

Houser had an unorthodox style that was a signature of Widespread Panic’s sound so much so the band took part of its name from Mikey’s nickname of “Panic.” Mikey used a volume pedal extensively to get the tone that was so vital to his sound. In fact, he used the pedal so much it caused circulation problems that forced him to perform while seated starting in 1997. The guitarist was also a gifted songwriter who contributed plenty of songs to the band’s repertoire including many still performed today. Sadly, Michael Houser passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 10, 2002. To remember Mikey and his contributions here’s a look at ten Widespread Panic videos from the Mikey Era.

1. Airplane (1994 Music Video):


Mikey wrote and sang lead on this single off 1994’s Ain’t Life Grand. “Airplane” was considered such a quintessential Houser song by the band that they waited over four years to bust it out after his passing.

2. Space Wrangler (Live On Austin City Limits – 2000)

Whether you loved it or hated it, Houser had a distinctive sound that isn’t easily replicated – just ask George McConnell. Mikey’s tone is the centerpiece of “Space Wrangler” and this is a terrific version Panic recorded for Austin City Limits in 2000.

3. The Waker (Live at Red Rocks – 2002)

One of the Mikey tunes that Panic hasn’t been played since his passing is “The Waker.” Houser wrote this song for his son Waker and this tear-inducing clip (watch JB stare at his band mate towards the start of tune) was recorded at one of the last shows the guitarist played with Panic before he passed less than two months later.

4. Postcard (Live In Athens – 1993)

Many of the tunes on Houser’s solo albums are sweet and gentle but Mikey knew how to rock with the best of ’em as you can see from this clip of “Postcard” from New Year’s ’93.

5. Tall Boy + Testify (Live at Bonnaroo 2002)

During Mikey’s last tour with the band in 2002, Widespread was one of the headliners of the first Bonnaroo festival. They invited gospel legend Dottie Peoples and The People’s Choice Choir to join them for a “Tall Boy” sandwich complete with “Testify” filling.

6. Vacation (Live Sit N Ski 1996)

Mikey was a master of the volume pedal but as mentioned in the intro he used it so often that he eventually had problems with his legs going numb. For their “Sit N’ Ski” tour in 1996 the members of Widespread Panic sat down during the acoustic segments. Houser felt so much more comfortable sitting while playing that he eventually just started sitting down for every performance. This is a clip of a gorgeous “Vacation” featuring David Blackmon on fiddle from that tour.

7. Ain’t Life Grand (Live – 1997)

Ever since Widespread debuted “Ain’t Life Grand” in 1993 it has been a staple of their sets with no more than seven shows passing without the band performing the tune until Houser’s passing. Above, we’ve got a typically high-energy version from 1997.

8. Walkin’ [For Your Love] (Live in Athens – 1991)

Billy Bob Thornton directed a live Widespread Panic concert film at the Georgia Theatre in 1991 and above is one of the clips from that film that made it onto YouTube. You’ll notice Mikey standing, T. Lavitz on keys and a youthful JB playing a strat.

9. Porch Song (Live in Atlanta – 2001)

Houser’s voice is front and center on another of the band’s signature tunes – “Porch Song.” This clip was recorded at the Philips Arena on December 31, 2001 – Mikey’s last New Year’s show.

10. Happy Child (Live At Red Rocks – 2000)

“Happy Child” is a short and sweet insturmental that Houser leads the band through at Red Rocks ’00.

BONUS: Michael Houser Plays “Jack” (July 30, 2000)

As a bonus, here’s video of provided by filmmaker Geoff Hanson who directed The Earth Will Swallow You documentary about Widespread Panic that focuses solely on Mikey’s hands as he plays “Jack” on July 30, 2000:

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