Having created PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish during the span of 2004 to 2009, I know how important it is to get the input and feedback from fans to create such a book. Heather Nigro, a Widespread Panic fan I met during the April 2009 run of Panic shows at House of Blues in Orlando, has created a project similar to PhanArt, aimed at Widespread Panic fans. The book, Postcards: By the Fans, for the Fans has developed from a visually enhanced narrative of two like-minded souls exploring their Widespread Panic experience, into a community based journey. The book includes fan submissions, stories, photos and artwork from almost 500 people. The book is slated to be finished by Spring of 2013, and they can meet their goal with a Kickstarter created to fund the publication of the book.
You can support Postcards by donating through their Kickstarter, and support one of the great fanbases in the live music scene. This is a great project and needs the help of fans to turn the dream into a reality. Lend a hand fans!
On this day in 2002, Michael Houser, founder and namesake of Widespread Panic, died at the age of 40. For many, this was the end of an era and one that was difficult to come to terms with. Word spread in the spring of 2002 of his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. But Houser kept playing, 15 shows in all before he passed away on August 10th, 2002, a month after his final show with Widespread Panic.
Houser was not only the lead guitarist for Widespread Panic, he was at the heart of the band, with a signature sound that echoes still through the songs and memories of Panic fans everywhere. Lending his propensity for frequent panic-attacks to the band’s name, Houser collaborated with his bandmates, writing songs together since the mid 1980s, including the lyrics to such songs as “Airplane”, “Gimme”, “Vacation,” “Raise the Roof,” “This Part of Town,” “Ain’t Life Grand,” “You Got Yours” and his final composition released in 2003, “Travelin’ Man.” Moving from playing seated (as he originally learned to play guitar) to standing up before returning to his seat on stage right in 1997, he incorporated his volume pedal into many songs and jams, creating the iconic sound that has yet to be duplicated.
With Houser’s death, Widespread Panic continued to play with the help of John Keane on pedal steel, George McConnell on guitar (2002-2006) and Jimmy Herring who has filled the lead guitar spot since 2006. Still, of all the guitarists in the world, Panic fans would easily give anything to have Houser back, seated and playing. A hiatus in 2004 allowed the band an extended break for the first time since Houser’s death, and while the sound was not the same as it once was, the fans were still there today, supporting the band that carries on Mikey’s musical legacy and nickname.
Houser left behind his wife Barbette, son Waker and daughter Eva. On August 10th, 2012, the 10 year anniversary of his passing, there was held a tribute show, ‘We Miss you Mikey’ at the Georgia Theatre in Athens. Among other pieces of art that were available at the show is the official print seen below. The art direction has been overseen by Houser’s wife Barbette and features Michael’s own doodles. Proceeds from the show benefitted The Michael Houser Fund at Athens Academy.
As a bonus, the show on Friday night will be shot professionally by a five-camera crew and streamed at Couchtour.com Fans who wish to support The Michael Houser Music Fund or who decide to stream the show are encouraged to donate to the Michael Houser Music Fund at the link on Couchtour.com
Fans of course have taken inspiration from Houser over the years and incorporate his likeness and familiar on stage pose into their artwork. Below is a gallery of images that will be updated continually as more Houser art is created. Many of these unique designs include an artistic take on the profile of Houser and his guitar, and as a result, his character, leaving him even more vividly in the minds of his fans.
From PhanArtist AJ Masthay: I have a very limited amount of matching numbered sets of my latest works for Widespread Panic currently available on my website. These prints were made for the band’s long awaited return to Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham, AL which was filmed for an upcoming DVD release. Check them out on my poster store page.
Hi all, and happy pre second leg of summer tour! Cant wait to hit the road next week and head out west for some epic venues. These will be my last releases for this summer, and Im very excited about each.
I was asked by Widespread Panic to create a piece for their Knoxville, TN shows that are just wrapping up tonight. The inspirationis the theatre itself with its elegant and ornate decorations and absolutely stunning ceiling medallion. These are 6 color linoleum block prints on Canson Edition paper stock. Photos dont do this one justice, they almost glow from the intense blues against the earth tones. I have a small allotment from the edition of 375 and they will be available on my website, www.masthaystudios.com, Thursday July 29 at 12 noon EST.
Finally, my last installment for the second leg of summer tour, what I am affectionately calling “Giant Alpine Valley Horns“. This is also a 6 color linoleum block print but is on Rives Heavyweight paper stock, edition of 75. Imagery is fairly self explanatory, you can almost hear the “Ricola-a-a-a” or the wonderful theme to the Cliffhangers Price is Right game in the background. These also will be available at www.masthaystudios.comThursday July 29 at 12 noon EST.