Sam Holt Band Pays Tribute to Michael Houser & Todd Nance in Birmingham May 16, 2022 13:14

Words by Monica Dean

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Sam Holt Band closed out a special three night run on Saturday night.  They band stepped on stage as the sun was beautifully setting at Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham, Alabama. A perfect background for a celebration of the lives of founding members of Widespread Panic: guitarist Michael Houser, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2002 and drummer Todd Nance who passed away suddenly in 2020.

Sam Holt, who was Houser's guitar tech, paid tribute to his mentor and friend on Houser’s rig, sharing the quintessential Houser-style lingering leads with the crowd. Holt was joined onstage by Adam Grace (keys), Ross Parker (bass guitar), and Jeremy Ward (drums).

The first set started with a tribute to Houser with his song, “Can't Change The World Past."  Two Widespread Panic instrumentals “A of D” and “E on a G” followed, before flowing seamlessly into “Sandbox”, a Houser tune not played by Widespread Panic since the guitarist's death. A lingering transition into a “Diner” jam leaves the crowd yearning to hear the rest, but Holt slips into “Counting Train Cars” before coming back to the Outformation catalog for “90”. A jubilant “Walkin'” is next with a jam into “Gunner,” which ultimately led into a heartfelt “Gimme.” This tune included the haunting lyrics “give me a hand here, Michael.” The set ends with “Ain't Life Grand,” a song Houser wrote reminding us to celebrate the mundane of everyday life, and it sure felt good.

After a quick, light rain, the second set begins with the reminder “where there is love there is hope” with a pristine “This Part of Town.”  Houser’s song named and written for his son, “Waker” is next. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful tribute of Houser’s own. Holt then pays his respects to Bloodkin with a cover of “Mercy Train to Bogart,” before diving into a “Hatfield” jam. Holt digs deep for the seldom played “Burned Faceless,” followed by two instrumentals, “Happy” and “L.A.”  Keyboardist Adam Grace jams into “You Should be Glad” with beautiful harmonies by drummer Jeremy Ward. “This is for all of you,” Holt announces before leading the way into “Airplane.”  A crowd rousing favorite, “Porch Song” would then close out the second set.

Holt points to the back of his Home Team shirt which says “In Todd We Trust” for an encore tribute to Nance. These are the first Remembering Mikey shows since Nance’s death, and Sam Holt Band decided to close the show in his memory with a pair of Nance’s own songs: “Cynic Clinic” and “You’ll Be Fine.” Holt & Co. played this show with love, and the result was a heartfelt celebration of Houser and Nance that the Birmingham faithful was so clearly honored to experience.

Setlist: Sam Holt Band - Remembering Mikey & Todd: Saturday, May 14th [2022]

Set 1: Can’t Change the Past, A of D > E on a G > Sandbox>Diner Jam > Counting Train Cars, 90, Walkin' > Gunner, Gimmie, Ain’t Life Grand

Set 2: This Part of Town > Waker > Mercy Train to Bogart > Hatfield Jam, Burned Faceless, Happy > LA, You Should be Glad, Airplane > Porch Song

Encore: Cynic Clinic, You’ll Be Fine

Watch Sam Holt Band performing "Porch Song" at Avondale Brewing Company here: