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Meet the Grateful SPLED

If you’ve ever taken a SPLED course at Penn State, you probably know them. You’ve sat through their lectures, you’ve taken notes on their slides. By day, they are the Penn State Special Education Department, esteemed professors and academics, but by night, David McNaughton, Charlie Hughes, David Lee, and Douglas Dexter transform. With the help of their instruments, they become the Grateful SPLED, a band of professors.

It all began in 2006 when Charlie and the two Davids met up for a jam sesh. With Charlie on rhythm guitar and vocals, David McNaughton on bass, and and David Lee on mandolin, vocals and lead guitar, the magic began. McNaughton’s son Matt soon joined in on drums, and he brought more than the beat and youth. He also thought of the name, the Grateful SPLED. A few years later, Doug came along on rhythm guitar and vocals. Sadly, two years ago Matt went solo (okay, fine, he just went to college). The band has been drummer-less ever since.

Still, they play on! The band of educators spans across four generations, so their music is varied. They play everything from ’60s classic rock and R&B, to ’70s Alt-Folk, to ’80s College Rock, to current Alt-Rock. They’ve covered everybody from Steve Earle to U2 to Mumford and Sons. Unfortunately, the Jonas Brothers are not on their set list.

If you’re jonesin’ to jam with the Grateful SPLED, you’ve got a few options. They’re pretty big on the private party circuit, so you can either crash a private party or throw one of your own. They also like to play a few public shows every year. They’ve played at some popular Penn State spots, like Cafe 210, the Grange Fair, and the Arena. Of course, they like to keep it in the family so they play plenty of College of Education events as well.

Here they are rocking out at Cafe 210 in 2010:

Cafe 210 2010 v2 - 18 (1)

In 2013, they performed some Mumford at the College of Education Welcome Event:

Clearly, they’ve got talent, but still, they remain humble. As Charlie Hughes says, “while our talents are such that we will not be giving up our day jobs anytime soon, we do have a lot of fun playing — no matter where.” This is good news for Penn State students–we get to enjoy their music and their lessons!

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