Tag Archives: Michael Houser

A belated Mikey Monday: A raffle for Live Oak…

In the world of live music, there are certain places that are held near and dear, sacred not for one particular reason, but rather for a host so large that trying to pin it down, or even explain it, would be a less than fruitful effort.

In similar fashion, any fan can point to a particular band, artist or player of a particular instrument as the one that does “it” for them. It, in its intended sense, is as unexplainable as Stonehenge. It is that tone that cannot be taught. It is that soul that cannot stay tucked away. It is whatever it is that gives it the ability to snatch one by his shirt and take full ownership of everything from the next move he will make to the feelings he will have while getting there.

During his short time with us, Michael Houser was the source of the aforementioned for literally countless fans. Behind an unassuming demeanor, and from a seated position, the power he unleashed was staggering. There was something about his tone that even if blindfolded, it was unmistakeable. No one since has even attempted to recreate it; they know they would fail if they tried. It was, is and always be his honest tune. Fortunately, he shared it with us and therefore, it rings with immortality, meaning that it can never depart.

Much was written in regards to how Mikey continues to shine a light of influence on us when Ian Rawn, Steve Love and Jamie Wickford published what we think was a beautiful piece recounting the We Miss You Mikey occasion. Whether watching online or from within the venue itself, we thought that it captured the feeling that the night in the Georgia Theatre spawned. In a word, that feeling was “inspired.”It was from that night that this idea being presented today was born…


â—Š The Idea


The record pictured has been sitting around for quite a long time. It’s cover tells that story by itself. It has seen better days, but those days were before it spun on a record player literally more times than even its direct owner (which is always a source of fun dispute) knows. As you will see, it has been signed by the band that created the content contained on the vinyl therein, Widespread Panic, including Mikey Houser.

Needless to say, this is a treasured little item, but alas, the conclusion has been made that it should go and live elsewhere, perhaps… say, your house.

That conclusion was arrived at about a year ago, but when it was, the decision to wait for the right time and the right reason to let it go. That time, for whatever reason, is now.


â—Š The Cause


Referring back to the first sentence way up there ↑, this past summer, one of our staff’s and senior contributor’s favorite places to be is Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. It is a “home field ” of sorts. It is a place that, for so many, has represented reuniting with old friends and never leaving without new ones.

Earlier this year, the area that is home to the park came under attack. Its wasn’t attacked by mortars of flame but rather by one of the very elements from which the location derives a portion of its identity, the molecule of life itself, water. It all happened when tropical Storm Debby descended on the small town of Live Oak, releasing an unprecedented amount of rain, wreaking havoc across Suwannee County. This was in June.

Next month, folks will flock to the town, occupying its hotels and those of close by Lake City, at least for the few very chilly wee morning hours that succeed the funk-filled late Bear Creek nights. For some, the havoc that our Mother wreaked on the grounds that have been a dance floor to so many will be out of mind. For others, thoughts of the devastation will be fleeting, resembling the Spanish moss that hangs overhead, blowing with each passing Florida breeze.

Neither of these statements are meant to come across as condescending. To suggest that people should walk around drearily thinking about a disaster while some incarnation of a “best of” lineup of musicians has sprung up for the 9th time during Bear Creek would be a bit dumb. After all, to the naked eye things appear to be just fine in Live Oak. Nearly seven months later, the roads have long since been opened and business is back to usual for a large portion of the townspeople. But, as we all know, there is always more to the story under the surface.

The fact remains that some families lost everything in June. Included in everything was their car(s), home, appliances, furniture, gardens, clothes, food, toiletry products, a combination thereof and far too much more to try and list. For these people, things are far from the way they were prior to the flood.

This is where we come in, but to suggest that we can solve all of Live Oak’s problems would be quite pompous and actually, quite naive. This said, we can definitely do something. How much will be up to you and those like you.


â—Š The Raffle


The Prize: Autographed LP- Bombs & Butterflies – Widespread Panic


The album is a limited edition LP (Vinyl) release of Widespread Panic’s Bombs and Butterflies (1997-Capricorn). It is numbered 2627 out of 3000. The album’s cover (that is the one that those common with the album recognize as the cover of the standard release CDs, cassettes, etc.) unfolds into a poster, as seen in one of the pictures below. 

The outer cover is signed by all members of Widespread Panic that were in the lineup at the time that the album was released: John Bell, John “JoJo” Hermann, Michael Houser, Todd Nance, Domingo S. Ortiz and Dave Schools


There will be a second prize but that is still being ironed out. Trust us, it will be good and as worthy a consolation as it can be to the “once in a lifetime” status of the grand prize.


Here is the plan:

1) The autographed Widespread Panic album will be raffled for 5 bucks per ticket. There will be a second place prize (that will be announced soon… still working out the details there)

2) One family will be the beneficiary of all monies collected and that family will be chosen through cooperation with our friends at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.*

3) The money will be delivered during or before the Bear Creek festivities and only after a winner has been drawn from the raffle.


That’s it! Sounds simple, right? Not so fast! This requires YOUR help. Why? Well, other than the obvious reason that we need you to buy a ticket (or 20), if by November 2, 2012, there has not been at least $500.00 raised, all monies will be refunded and the raffle will not go down or be extended accordingly.


Why 500 clams?

The fact is, there is a near identical item that recently sold for 3,500.00 and another up for auction on eBay with a starting price of 2,750.00. So, if we wanted to, we could just hop on over to eBay, sell the album of a couple of thousand dollars, donate that money and be done with it.

But that requires absolutely zero community effort and excludes so many from the opportunity to have the album and the opportunity to give to a family that is in need.  Plus, we hope that we can do better that a couple of thousand dollars. We want to blow this family’s mind with the amount of generosity that the folks with our little Honest Tune family & community gathered.


So tell your friends, tweet, post this on Facebook, etc.  Let’s make this thing work! [AWD_likebutton]


â—Š Rules & Eligibility:


1) All of the entered names will be collected from the survey site and pasted into a computer generated random name picker. All of this will be videotaped so that nobody can cry foul. To see examples of us using this tool, click here. If we are lucky, maybe we will bump into Col. Bruce and get him to draw names out of a beer pitcher again.

2) The drawing will be held on 11/7/12** and the winners will be notified within 7 days from that date.

3) No previous or current Honest Tune editor/staff may enter

4) Contributors (senior and otherwise) may enter.

5) A person may enter as many times as he/she wishes, but please note all raffle “virtual ticket” sales are final.**

6) Entrants must be 18 years of age or older at the time of entry and from within the continental United States.


â—Š How to enter?

Are you ready?


Well, here ya go:

Simply click on the pay now button below and you will be directed to PayPal where you will complete your transaction. After you are done and if everything goes correctly, you will be redirected to a “Success!” page and your email from PayPal will confirm your entry.

If you have any questions, please publicly list them below in the Facebook comments section. If, for whatever reason, you need to contact us with a question, please utilize the contact option in the menu at the top of this page.

Lastly, we encourage everyone to read the fine print, which contains terms and other items of interest, including checks & balances that ensure legitimacy.


â–º Don’t forget:


There are three Honest Tune giveaways underway. Prizes  include autographed CDs from Trey Anastasio & Jimmy Herring, tickets to one of a handful of Gov’t Mule & Jimmy Herring Band (w/ Victor Wootem Band) shows, a new copy of Gov’t Mule’s new Georgia Bootleg Box and some merch and CDs from Jennifer Hartswick and Van Ghost. Be sure to check them out. They don’t cost a penny to enter and with the vibes you are putting out by entering this raffle, you r odds surely just increased! Good Luck!



Pick a quantity




More pictures…

Click the thumbnails to view…






*We are choosing to do this in this manner, as opposed to the traditional routes we have taken with past charity-related auctions, donations, contests and giveaways, is due to the trusted relationships that we have in Live Oak who can steer the giving appropriately, and because we want to see how and who your and our efforts help… especially with a prize as near and dear to our heart as this one is.

**Exceptions: 1) If, by November 2, 2012, there has not been at least $500.00 raised, all monies will either A) be refunded and the raffle will not go down or B) be extended past the original deadline. 2) If a mistake is made in purchasing, refund requests will be looked at and evaluated on a case by case basis. For example: If you accidentally choose to purchase 100 tickets, but you meant to purchase 10, that would be an obvious “of course, we will refund your money.” On the other hand, if you choose to purchase three tickets and have some odd form of buyer’s remorse, your probably going to be out of luck. The refund policy is necessary to ensure that the contest, short as it is, runs smoothly.






Fine Print:

This contest/giveaway is not endorsed, sponsored by or affiliated with Michael Houser, Widespread Panic, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Capricorn Records, the city of Live Oak or any related entities to include (but not be limited by: management, estates, official representatives, copyright holders, etc.) It is, indeed, the sole responsibility of Honest Tune, thereby making Honest Tune responsible for all parts of this giveaway/raffle.  Due to the financial commitment each entrant is making, Honest Tune will, at minimum: Publish a list of every entry and dollar amount. Entrants confidentiality will be kept by use of his/her email’s first 3 letters and first two letters of domain (example: John Doe enters and buys 3 tickets. His email is johndoe@gmail.com. His information will appear as: j**n***@gm***.com) This list will be published within 90 days after the close of the drawing via Google Docs.It will be up to each individual to check the site, honesttune.com, for the release of this document. Further, a screenshot of the PayPal balance, as it stands on the drawing date will be included in that document. Currently, the balance is $0.00.




One more for Mikey: We Miss You

Ten years sounds like a long time, but when reflecting upon sadness or loss it seems shorter, almost like yesterday. We can all agree that life is precious, delicate, mysterious and full of challenges and regrets. When a loved one passed away, the instinct is to stop, think and take stock of where one”s own life is heading and moreover, what exactly needs to be done with an all too uncertain amount of remaining time.

After awhile, and as the grief process takes its course, sadness begins to slip away and one day, without notice, it’s back to business as usual… until reminded.

In the case of Michael “Mikey” Houser (January 6, 1962-August 10, 2002), reminders come often through reminiscent discussion and anytime his music is heard.


I’m in love with a girl that I met in the bar
She’s brought me this far


The unique guitar riffs, calm lyrics and quiet stage presence made him a fan favorite and when sadness recoils, the knowledge of knowing that someone so talented and gifted was taken from us at an early age only exacerbates the grief. Recollection of how astonishingly deep Mikey’s unselfishness was when he decided to go out on the road and tour with Widespread Panic, even when noticeably sick, his life “time” limited. To make that sacrifice only proved how important music was for him, but to forgo spending that borrowed time with his family and off the road friends provided all who were touched in those remaining days a rare glimpse of humility, something for which Houser was a beacon. Ironically, ten years past his untimely passing, his family invited us to share in an evening with them to collectively reflect on Mikey’s contribution to life in a celebration of an immense man that so many will never forget.

Acting as organizer, it was hats off early to Barbette Houser- Horowitz for what immediately came across as a well-planned event. It was clear that she had put her painstaking all into this special tribute concert for her late husband; and in recalling the grief shared amongst fans through the years, there were shared thoughts abound concerning  the emotional fortitude that she and her family had shown in so doing.

The evening”s setting was the recently restored Georgia Theatre, the place to play for aspiring Athens based musicians, and as fate would have it, the place where an untold litany of early Mikey-inspired memories were made with Bloodkin, Vic Chesnut and of course, Widespread Panic. In terms of spaciousness and the like, the Theatre was noticeably more comfortable on this evening. One can only be presume that Barbette set a strict limit in regards to how many tickets could be sold.

Upon arrival, fans took to mingling on the rooftop and catching up with old friends and family before surveying the items that would be auctioned (including handwritten Mikey lyrics donated by John Bell, paintings and signed posters) to provide funds for The Michael Houser Music Fund. Early-entry VIPs were treated to some wonderful southern food, complete with delicious golden fried chicken, and entertainment inside by Dangfly, whose set ending signaled the beginning of a photomontage backdrop that scrolled through photos from Houser”s life, both onstage and off. The only unfortunate thing was that the event could have never accommodated all who wished to be there, but once again, Barbette showed just how much she “gets it” by making the entire evening accessible on the internet for free (though donations were accepted) to all who needed to simply couldn”t be in Athens. Even so, there was an ever-present group of approximately 25 ticketless souls who opted to watch from a sidewalk out of a desire to simply be as close to the magic that was inevitable.


Well the barstool rodeo’s in town
And I know all of our friends will be going down…


In the moments leading up to the show”s opening, older fans and friends took time to reflect and remember what Mikey stood for while the younger ones in the audience were enthusiastically awaiting the closest thing to feeling the power that Houser”s presence always spawned.

Ceremonies officially got underway set from the Romper Stompers, a collaborative joint between Panic”s drum section (Todd Nance, Sunny Ortiz) and personnel from Bloodkin and Barbara Cue, an up and coming Athens collective that is showing true promise.

From the inception of the set, the tone was set for the evening, courtesy of an eclectic mix of songs that Houser held close to his heart, including: “Airplane,” “Smoke and Burn (Burned Faceless),” a nod to Vic Chesnutt with “Blight” and a tune that most would have never predicted to be one of Houser”s favorites to rock when riding on Widespread Panic”s tour bus, Kathy Mattea”s “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.” (according to Todd Nance, it was)

Former Widespread Panic guitar tech and current Outformation front man, Sam Holt, came out for a few songs including “She Drives Me to Drink,” providing just the right amount of latitude to ensure that the high energy level was sustained until the last drop.

Intermissions throughout the evening were far from the standard drag, consisting of gear change and house music. Rather, all who participated in the raffles were on the edge of their seat and all were cheering for the lucky fans who walked away with rare memorabilia. The crowd was introduced to Houser”s parents who were there to share in the evening”s primary purpose, to honor their son. Needless to say, gratitude swirled as Barbette and family made a point of thanking the full room on multiple occasions when not sharing stories about Mikey”s love for music and family — never minding the fact that the pleasure was all ours.

The next band to take the stage and keep the barrage of tribute tunes up was The Heap. Through nine songs the band took the volume up for a downright funky 40 minutes. Highlighted by the second trip into Houser”s Sandbox,  “Low Country” was an amazing offering, the horns blasting mercifully while fans grooved to the number that was spiraling the number into a new but fully spirited place down the spine and beneath the feet.

A near complete reunion of Outformation (Jeff “Birdogg” Lane”s percussion role was ably filled by Sunny Ortiz) was next to take the stage. The 11 song set featured favorites such as “West Virginia,” “Time is Free”  and“90,” but when John Bell and John Keane ambled onto the stage, the set took on a whole new meaning and direction. To no surprise, the Georgia Theatre throng shrieked with delight, knowing that a gem or two would be gracing their ears in short order. What they got were two great songs choices and a classic. “Can’t Change the Past” was stellar as the front men traded verses and “Southern Angels” was performed powerfully with full emotions on their faces.

The last song in the set was the night’s biggest and by far, the most sought after Mikey tune. “Sandbox,” the title track from Houser”s second of two posthumous releases, was played for the first time in over a decade. Having  been a rarity when active (played less than 25 times over a 5 year period from 1996-2001), it goes without saying that many from the Panic faithful went their entire tour career without ever having the pleasure of hearing the number live. Most figured the song to be permanently shelved alongside other gems (“Raise the Roof” and “Waker”) out of respect for the Mikey. On a night that was all about paying respect to the fallen brother, there could not have been a more fitting venue for the splendidly written number to resurface in all of its beauty; Holt, Bell and Keane did the song justice, playing it with soul straight from the heart… just as Mikey always did. As the song dwindled and came to a close, fans prepared themselves for the final two, and most anticipated, sets of the night but were thankful for the preceding final intermission.

Taking a brief survey of the room, it was interesting to see the various reactions that were being had in response to what had just occurred onstage. While one person was giving his buddy, a high-five, rejoicing over finally capturing a tune they had chased for untold years, another was sitting quietly, seemingly having gotten lost to the moment it time, blank-faced but bright-eyed. In the brief look, unique insight could be found. Whether fervently texting a friend, phoning a long since seen touring partner, tweeting a reaction, visibly moved with red cheeks from tears that had poured only moments earlier or simply lying one”s head on his or her lover”s shoulder, unity shone bright as the sun in the snow. In spite of the diverse expression of feeling, each were under the same agreement in regards to exactly how important the music and life of Michael Houser meant to each of them. In this room, his gentle soul was vibrantly present in spite of the fact that its vessel had long-since departed.

By the time that all had reconvened for the final sets, the energy in the building was at a fever pitch, all having no clue as to what would be coming next, just knowing that it was going to be special. John Bell and John Keane retook the stage with an ensemble of friends that included Ike Stubblefield (keys), Andrew Hammer (drums) and Tom Ryan (bass) and began the set with a welcomed and well played serving of Pink Floyd”s “Wish You Were Here” that transitioned into “No Matter What” and  “All I Wanted,” interspersed by a revelatory JB telling stories about Mikey and disclosing song meanings. After a sweet take on “I”m Not Alone” with Randall Bramblett, the set closed with the most fitting number to close things out before the Tribute Jam, “Travelin” Man,” the final song Mikey wrote for Widespread Panic.

Going into the evening, all eyes had looked to the Tribute Jam (John Keane & Friends) to be the most valuable set of the evening. But after what had transpired throughout the evening from every ensemble and individual, proclaiming anything as a clear winner would be far too subjective. This said, the set delivered on every expectation with plenty of room to spare.

Opening things up with quite the trilogy of tunes, John Keane and Jimmy Herring traded leads on “She’s Not There” while Danny Hutchens led his band”s subdued “End of The Show,” but it was “Porch Song” that proved to be extraordinary through the guitar of Herring and moreover, the rare appearance and fiddle work from David Blackmon. Blackmon has not played with Widespread Panic in over a decade, but it wasn”t just his mere presence that made the song so delicious. He had been out at various points throughout the night and no doubt, each time was special. But with “Porch Song,” it was the fact that the number just so happened to bring out his classic fiddle sound through composition that gave the impression that it was written with him in mind.

Joining the tribute jam was Dan Horowitz (Barbette’s husband) on bass and Tim White (from 1988″s Space Wrangler) on keys making the affair even more special, as though it needed anything else.  The company brought the night”s festivities to a close with the all too fitting “Make Sense to Me,” a surprising rattling of the Rolling Stones” “Sympathy For The Devil” and  an encored “I”m a Man” with drums thrown in the middle of the sandwich.  With a gratitude cry from Bell of “Thank you everybody. Thank you Mikey.” the house lights were up and the night far from being history for those fortunate enough to be in attendance and those watching from home.

Oddly absent had been Widespread Panic bassist, David Schools, and ivory tickler, JoJo Hermann who had previously committed to obligations with their current projects.


This town has always been my friend


All in all, it was nice to see members of Widespread Panic, Bloodkin and Outformation along with host of friends, some of which are rarely seen. As he often did, Michael Houser had brought them together. They had come to celebrate the life and raise money in the name of their cohort, but moreover, their friend — something much greater than any old disputes, founded or otherwise. One can only hope that this was only a beginning of such occurrences.

The night had been a success on all accounts. Loads of dough was raised for The Michael Houser Music Fund (that provides scholarships to Athens Academy) and those lucky enough to be at the Theatre or watching on couch-tour.com could not have thought of any better way to use their own short bit of remaining time than they did by participating in the tribute event. It was a tribute to their musical hero. To us, Michael Houser was the best to ever play a Tele, the master of the volume pedal who could blister a jam as well as he could ride in the back. To his family, he was husband and father, son and brother.  Fortunately, they were selfless enough to let us borrow him so that he could do what he seemingly lived for, sharing his soul in hopes of completing the pass with another”s.

26 years ago, two young men dreamed big. They got a band together and named it after one member”s disorder. He was a man that was always willing to sacrifice of himself to have his dream and eventually it came true.  On this night, the tenth of August, 2012, his family shared him again. We were there together. They did it in downtown Athens, where it all began and in an evening of true sweetness, our souls were once again able to dance with his… and we were grateful. Thanks Mikey.  (and Barbette, Waker, Eva)



Havin” a good time, here today
Watching the sun shine, matinee
Never the wrong time, time we stay
Living the moontime, time we play*





Romper Stompers

Airplane, Smoke and Burn, Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, Blight, She Drives Me To Drink*, Bull Run*

*with Sam Holt


Sensible Shoes, Low Country, It’s Your Own Kinda Thing, The Future, Express Yourself, My Automobile, The Hipster’s Lament


Happy Child, Steve Lopez Raffle, Valley Blue, 90, Into My Arms, West Virginia, Game On > Edgewater > Time Is Free, Can’t Change The Past*, Southern Angels*, Sandbox*

*with John Bell John Keane ; Sunny Ortiz on percussion in place of Birdogg

John Bell, John Keane and Friends

Wish You Were Here, No Matter What, I’m Not Alone*, May Your Glass Be Filled, Travelin’ Man*

*with Randall Bramblett on sax

Tribute Jam

She’s Not There, End of the Show, Porch Song, Makes Sense To Me, Sympathy for the Devil
Encore: I’m A Man

(all of the evening”s appeared at some point during this set)


Hear John Bell, Dave Schools & Jimmy Herring talk about Mikey:

☼ Listen to John Bell- BELOW ☼

☼ Listen to Dave Schools- HERE ☼

☼ Listen to Jimmy Herring- HERE (beginning at 39:00) ☼



Click the thumbnails to view EXCLUSIVE photos* from the event

by …

Follow Ian”s photo journey by joining his Facebook group.




*Photos are protected under the Copyright Law of the United States, specifically under and by Title 17. Further protection exists under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 | Any distribution, copying or any use other than viewing, without the express consent of the photographer or designate thereof, is forbidden. For more information, contact Honest Tune Associate Managing Editor, David Shehi.




Artist: Michael Houser Song: Sandbox Album: Sandbox

written by Widespread Panic

*Artist: Widespread Panic Song:Porch SongAlbum: Space Wrangler

written by Widespread Panic

Lyrics included in this article are the property of their respective authors, publishers or other rights retainer.