By Nikki Hedrick
Group Therapy has been spreading their musical remedy for only two years, but the band has familiar faces on deck. “Our first gig was January 30, 2017,” says drummer-vocalist Donnie Morgan.
Morgan is a longtime figure in the area music scene. He performs ongoing solo gigs, but Group Therapy offers a unique opportunity to celebrate music history.
“I’ve known of Dave (Hope) growing up listening to Kansas,” he tells Beachcomber. “I’ve known Steve (Spayde), our guitar player, for about 40 years. I have a funny story about Dave. I met him a long time ago, but I hadn’t seen him again in 30-plus years. But Steve and Dave have been friends for a while.”
Yes, Morgan is referencing the multiplatinum band Kansas, whose songs (“Dust in the Wind,” “Carry on My Wayward Son”) have been continuously adopted by pop culture. Longtime Destin area resident Dave Hope is the original bassist for Kansas and is now taking to the local stage in Group Therapy.
“(Steve is) such an amazing guitar player,” says Morgan. “I look over at him and see who it is and like, ‘Wow, okay.’ We always talked jamming together over the years, but we never did. He comes from a different background than I do. I played speed metal in the ‘80s, and he was doing more Whale’s Tail and Elephant Walk type gigs—you know, I had long hair and spikes playing thrash metal.”
Morgan doesn’t exclude the possibility of adding original songs to the setlist in the future, but for now he’s focused on enjoying the music. “I grew up listening to Kansas and Rush and all the progressive rock bands in the ‘70s, and tried my best to play along with them. And now I’m in a band with the bass player for one of my favorite bands. Right now, we’re just having fun playing. We just all enjoy seeing people having a good time, that’s what we’re about.”
Group Therapy can be found regularly at AJ’s and the Funky Blues Shack in Destin, and KC’s Sandbar in downtown Fort Walton Beach, but as the summer heats up so will their schedule.
“You’re gonna hear some good classic rock that makes you want to get up,” says Morgan. “You’re gonna hear three guys that sing pretty well, and you’re gonna hear some really good instrumentation. We have so much fun, we just kind of chase each other around the stage musically.
“We do some Chicago blues, we do some Cream…oh gosh, we do some Neil Young. We just do some fun stuff that everybody can wrap their head around. And then we do some Grand Funk, and people get up and dance. And some old Rascals, and we just kinda poke fun at each other on stage because they’re older than I am. So I’ll introduce a song from Dave’s high school back when I was two, you know, stuff like that.”
Morgan is quick to add with a laugh, “We’re not tackling any Zeppelin anytime soon because none of us can get up there. I sing most of the stuff that requires some higher (range) like ‘White Room’ by Cream. The stuff that’s more forced out, the louder voice and the more range, that’s usually me.
“Steve’s got kind of in-the-middle voice there, but he gets some high notes too, for sure. And then Dave, he just lays it out there in perfect tune, but he’s got that one range he’s most comfortable in, and he really delivers. He’s like, ‘I’ve never sang this much in my life.’”
Morgan quips that as long as their hearing remains intact, they will enjoy performing.
Keep up with the band and their upcoming schedule through their official Facebook page, Facebook.com/group.therapydsd.