FIDDLE AND 6 STRING BANJO: SIMON SPALDING
SIMON SPALDING is a multi-instrumentalist, born in San Francisco and residing now in New Bern, NC. His parents were both involved in theater and the arts, and Simon's entire life has been spent in music, in one form or another. He owns and plays over 200 instruments, many of European origin, but also plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass quite well. He attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of California at Berkeley.
Simon has performed in a large variety of bands spanning many decades, and has toured the U.S. and Europe playing music. He also lectures and does (many!) concerts as a solo artist, usually covering topics related to history and the music of the period.
He currently teaches music and is the director of teaching at Fuller's Music in New Bern. Simon is married and the father of two children.
Visit Simon's web site: http://www.musicalhistorian.com/
Stan Daughn is an N.C. native and semi-pro sideman presently, playing multiple instruments in a variety of local and regional projects. Stan remembers listening to The Lawrence Welk Show as a toddler and is able to recall the exhilaration he felt listening to the sounds of the muted trumpets from the show.
Stan began playing guitar around age 9 but soon after established a parallel interest in drums and bass guitar, and for the last 35 years Stan has played all three instruments in a wide variety of recording projects and live performances. When asked about his musical influences, Stan simply lists family members and a select few musical partners from over the years, not famous recording artists as many might expect. His father, David Daughn, provided a huge library of eclectic listening material, and was a major influence on Stan's roots-oriented guitar and songcraft. Uncles Lloyd Martin and Truett Davis both left their indellible marks as did fellow musicians Ricky Sparks, Robbie Vanhoy, andd Joey Okrie.
Stan is not much for the limelight and would much rather adopt a sideman role than to be a featured performer, thus one of the primary reasons he prefers studio recording to live performance. These days finds Stan in the studio and playing select live shows locally and regionally across N.C. and beyond.
Stan's collection of guitars and amps is quite extensive, too long to list here, as is his vast array of guitar effects.
PEOPLE HELPING MIKE MAKE THE MUSIC
LEAD GUITARS, SOLOS, RHYTHMS and BACKGROUND VOCALS:
STAN "SMOKEY" DAUGHN
TEACHER, SONGWRITER, SINGER, PLAYS GUITARS, BASSES, TENOR BANJO, UKULELE and DRUMS:
Mike was born on a U.S. occupied territory island. As the son of an Air Force pilot, he got moved around quite a bit. His father retired, the family moved to Orlando, and fifteen year old Mike learned to play “House of the Rising Sun” from a girlfriend. He was hooked, bought his first (Sears Silvertone) guitar in 1965 and later a Harmony, which he still uses for song composition.
Mike graduated from F.S.U. in 1971. He taught English and coached football and track for two years in Orlando, then he and his new bride moved to the mountains of southwestern Virginia where Mike taught reading for 10 years and English for 19 years. During this time frame he fathered a son, Michael John (M.J.) and a daughter, Diane. A divorce ensued after ten years of marriage, Mike maintained 50% custody of his two children, and a couple years later Mike met Debbie, his current wife of the past 35 years.
Mike had been a guitarist and singer in a few party bands, but Debbie’s love of music meant he had a music partner motivated enough to put together more rehearsed shows. They started off just doing simple duets, 2 vocals and a guitar, but soon added a (Yamaha) keyboard for Debbie, then a bass player and a drummer. They called themselves FourPlay for 8 or 10 years, doing river parties, wedding receptions, country club gigs, and Elks Lodge shows on weekends. Then they changed the name to Déjà Vu and did occasional weekend shows for another 8 to 10 years. (Because Mike taught high school, he avoided playing bars. Too many of his students were allowed into them.)
During these years, Mike was “married to the briefcase,” teaching English and grading essays, research papers, poems, always something every night. But he did some songwriting on weekends and soon had a small collection of decent material.Then came retirement. Mike had been carrying a list in his wallet of things he could do to earn income during retirement: various “retirement careers.” But upon actually leaving the field of public education after thirty-one years, he found a job tutoring at a private company, where he stayed for five years (starting at $8 per hour, despite being called the "best teacher there" by TWO different directors.)
Now he teaches guitar out of his studio and does songwriting, a skill he had honed both at home and during his years teaching creative writing classes. Mike points out that his best songs have flowed since retirement, “But you’ve got to write the bad ones to get the good ones,” he said. "I seem to have no trouble writing those bad ones."
In New Bern Mike (and Debbie) kept busy with music, three years with The Final Fling, and three with Mike and The Wavemakers. Then began a shift to mostly recording in Mike's two room studio, focusing on his original music and not even trying to play out anymore. Right now Mike plays a USA Fender Stratocaster into an Ampeg Jet amplifier (or '66 Fender Super-Reverb), or he plugs his acoustic-electric Takomine Jumbo or his Martin guitars into a Fender Acoustisonic Pro amp.
He and Debbie live on Brices Creek and like to cruise the local waters in their 27 foot Albin aft-cabin family cruiser. Mike counts as his musical influences more artists than can be listed here, but include Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett, J.J. Cale, John Prine, Bob Segar, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straights,) The Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Traffic, The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, The Eagles.....etc., etc. You get the picture.
DRUMS, PERCUSSION, and BACKGROUND VOCALS:
MICHAEL JOHN UPCHURCH- aka: M.J.
Michael John Upchurch was born in 1975 and started on the drums at the age of five. His father put a pair of sticks in his hands and taught him a basic four-four beat. He took off from there and drums have been a major part of his life ever since.
M.J. loves music and has drummed with many different people over the years. Growing up in the mountains of Virginia, he joined the school band in elementary school and then the high school marching band where he played mostly the snare drum. What he was really into was playing the full drum set. While in high school he also played in his father’s bands (The Fourplay Band/ The Deja Vu Band) and got his first paying gigs.
In college he played with the band Deepwater. They mostly got together to jam once a week and did an occasional gig. This band had a lot of influence on M.J.’s musical taste. Most of the music was a blues rock and southern rock style. He also played with The Cotton Kings and Tommy Edwards during this time, doing shows around the Southwestern Virginia area. In 2003, MJ played at a dinner theatre for the shows ‘A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline’ and ‘Godspell’.
A year later he started his first full-time drumming gig. He moved aboard the ship the MV Palm Beach Princess in Florida and played initially in the jazz lounge. He did that for a few months and then went to play with The Barnacle Band on the Lido deck outside. He played there for about ten months, performing six, thirty to sixty minute shows a day. This was enough time on the boat for him, but an exciting experience nonetheless.
In 2006 M.J. moved to Austin, TX. He wanted to live somewhere with a strong local music scene. He spent five years living in the “Live Music Capital” and enjoyed being immersed in the thriving live music scene. He played with quite a few different bands while he was there, playing at such venues as The Saxon Pub, Jovitas, Gueros, The Nutty Brown Café, Shiners Saloon, and many other places around the Austin area. The bands he mostly played with were The Banters, The Garett Endres Band, and The Grant Ewing Band. He also did some gigs around Texas in the San Antonio, San Marcos, Galveston, and Corpus Christi areas.
He moved back to the East Coast in late 2011. While in NC, he laid down drum tracks for many of his father’s songs in his home studio. He had a great time collaborating with his dad again and was happy to help him out. After a year away doing audio visual work in Jacksonville, FL, M.J. is back in Austin, playing for The Garett Endres Band and loving it.
M.J. wants nothing more than to do music full time. Music is in him and he is happiest when he is actively playing. He currently plays a Drum Workshop (DW) kit with Sabian and Zyldjian cymbals. He recently purchased another kit, a Roland electronic drum kit (with headphones) that enables him to practice without disturbing the neighbors. MJ finally found the gal of his dreams and they married in Blowing Rock, NC, but now live in Utah, an area devoid of much live music.
KEYBOARD and BACKGROUND VOCALS:
Debbie was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, “a long time ago!” but was moved to Grayson County, VA, before the age of three. Music has always been an interest of hers (dancing was her first love) and entered a talent contest (singing with three pals) at her school when she was ten. They won third place and shared the prize of $1.00! The music bug had bitten.
Debbie met Mike at a cast party back in 1982 after a play, and they have been together ever since. She was always supportive of Mike’s music and Mike was very encouraging for Debbie’s lack of confidence at singing.
They started singing together while still “courting.” They purchased a Yamaha DX keyboard with their first income tax reimbursement and started gigging within their first couple of years together. The partnership has continued for 28 years in various band incarnations, as mentioned in Mike’s biography.
Debbie now plays a Korg 01W fd keyboard, known for its rich analog sound, sings backup vocals into a Crown headset microphone (actually designed by Mike's Audio Mastering Engineer) and helps co-write with Mike on a few songs.