Three Man Cannon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

Heartbreaking news struck the Philadelphia and regional DIY community this weekend: Spenser Spirit Hogans — a songwriter, bassist, cherished friend, and positive force in the music scene — passed away on July 4th.

An upbeat and outgoing person with a radiant smile, Hogans most notably brought his talents to Three Man Cannon, the atmospheric indie rock outfit founded with his friends (and co-songwriters) Matt Schimelfenig, Pat Brier, and Dennis Mishko. Their collective roots trace back to the Northeastern Pennsylvania scene of the late-00s, and Hogans (often credited as Spenser Colmbs) wrote and sang the dreamlike “Moving Onto Martha Street” from their 2014 album Pretty Many People, as well as “How A Mouse Could” from last year’s self-titled LP.

“This is probably Spens’ least favorite social media,” Three Man Cannon wrote Friday on Facebook (he was much more of a Twitter guy, hysterically so). “And this message is something that we would all usually discuss for days before posting. However, our witty, loving, extraordinary best friend, bandmate, and brother passed away yesterday.”

Hogans also played in Cherry, as well as the live configuration of singer-songwriter Dave Tomaine’s project Cave People. “I’m so grateful for every second I got to spend with you, Spens,” Tomaine Tweeted. “I love you so much.”

As news got out on July 5th, remembrances and appreciations of Hogans made their way out onto social media. Cayetana said he was “a beautiful soul and friend. … Anybody who knew Spenser loves him so much.” Spirit of the Beehive called him “a truly unique artist and human being. he was hilarious, warm and inviting and we’ll love you forever.”

Timeshares Tweeted that he was “the type of guy you go over to say hi to at a show and end up never walking away.” And Maxwell Stern of Signals Midwest wrote in an emotional Instagram post that Hogans “made a practice of expressing himself in so many beautiful ways, and I was astounded by his writing and musical ability.”

In addition to his work with other artists around the scene, Hogans released a solo album called Spider Kingdom in 2016, and had more recently taken to performing under the name Early Animator (his longtime social media handle). He was set to go on a month-long tour in August and September opening for Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cave People, and was very much looking forward to it. “Opportunities to travel are so frigging s p e c i a l,” Hogans posted on Instagram.

In the wake of his passing, a group of his friends began raising money to help ease the burden of funeral costs on his family. Donations can be made via Venmo to @for-spenser-spirit; in a Facebook post being circulated, Hogans’ friend Kath Kennedy wrote “Our hearts might be broken, but our Spirit will carry us forward.”

We here at The Key were fortunate enough spend time with Hogans twice in WXPN studios: once when Cherry recorded, and once when Three Man Cannon recorded. True to everything that’s been said about him in the past 24 hours, he was an absolute joy to work with, an absolute sweetheart who lit up the room, and that energy shone wherever he went, onstage and off. He will be dearly missed.

Below, watch Hogans perform with Cherry and Three Man Cannon, listen to Spider Kingdom, and read a collection of memories from social media.

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