“Wanna go over to the [Michael] Houser Shrine? It’s the best one.” Of course, the kid means the impressive memorial to the lead guitarist of Widespread Panic, who passed away suddenly of pancreatic cancer at 40 in 2002.
We traverse choppy moguls on International, swoop up a sharp slope, and navigate an aspen grove glittering with crystalline fluff. “Yo! Watch out for this forty-foot cliff,” crows the Floridian ahead of us.
And then I spot it: a graphic blue flag strung between two trees, mere feet from a precipitous drop off. We’re perched on the edge of that forty-foot cliff and gazing out at a magnificent view of Aspen’s snow-capped downtown, which resembles a miniature diorama of spun sugar from this distance.
As the epically popular jam band claims a crazed contingent in Colorado, the trees here are plastered with Red Rocks concert posters, ticket stubs, prayer flags and hand-tooled signs. Wood, a fan who’s rocked out at 14 Panic shows, guided parents Nate and Melba Houser to the shrine in 2009.