Jimmy Herring Remembers Michael Houser
Founding Widespread Panic guitarist Michael Houser passed away ten years ago today, August 10. In honor of Houser’s legacy, we will reflect on his career throughout the day on both Relix.com and Jambands.com. Our first memory comes from Jimmy Herring, who has known Houser since his former band Aquarium Rescue Unit first opened for Panic the late ’80s. Since 2006 he has also paid tribute to Houser on a nightly basis as Widespread Panic’s lead guitarist.
Herring plans to celebrate Houser’s life at the We Miss You Mikey show slated to take place at Athens, GA’s Georgia Theater this evening. Below is a brief memory from the Widespread Panic guitarist.
Mikey was a wonderful soul. He was an incredible stylist. He had his own sound, and his approach is so singular and so unique. He loves the blues—you can hear that there’s blues in everything that he’s playing. To me that’s sort of a prerequisite for a great musician, for the blues to be in there somewhere. He was also such a nice, generous guy—he’d give me the shirt off of his back. [Widespread Panic] would always invite opening bands to come sit in with them. Hell, I started hanging out with those guys in ’89, and they invited Aquarium Rescue Unit to come on tour with them and, every night, they would always invite members of our band to sit in.
It was always fun playing with Mikey because it wasn’t like you would take a solo and then he would take a solo. He was always playing, and he was really a big component of the ‘group conversation,’ much in the way that Phil Lesh talks about how he never wants to hear people play solos. Mikey was really my first exposure to group improvisation, and it was really great because you had to learn to play in a conversation instead of just behind a solo. He had a really unique sound, and he was just fun to be with.
This evening’s We Miss You Mikey benefit concert is slated to feature performances by Widespread Panic’s John Bell, Sunny Ortiz and Todd Nance, Panic prouder John Keane and an assortment of other guests. The night will end with a group jam.