The Spanglers
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The Spanglers

Lewisburg, West Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF | AFM

Lewisburg, West Virginia, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Folk





LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- In the 1980s and early 1990s, Mark Spangler was just another musician with big dreams of rock and roll stardom -- well, sort of.
Sitting in his office at Davis-Stuart Inc. in Lewisburg, the 45-year-old says, looking back, he was never meant to play in the mainstream.
"I played contemporary Christian music." He shook his head and frowned. "It was good stuff, but not the kind of music that got a lot of radio airplay."
Spangler is the director for Davis-Stuart, a Presbyterian therapeutic residential program for emotionally disturbed youth. He grew up in Peterstown, and long before he came to Lewisburg to work with troubled teens, he was a Christian rocker. He toured through the late 1970s and 1980s, releasing an album, "Shelter," in 1989.
Songs from the record did make it both on Christian and rock radio, he says, but his music career never caught fire.
"I think probably if I could have played a little more out west," he said. "California was a much bigger market for that kind of music back then and they wanted me, but those kinds of shows were hard to do."
Spangler was married by then. He and his wife, Tracy, had a 3-year-old. It wasn't a sacrifice. Being a husband and a father was important, but making a living and making music didn't work together.
So, he went to school, became a licensed professional counselor, and took a job with Davis-Stuart.
After he took the job in 1993, he mostly put his guitar away -- only played on his front porch with friends or at church. He stayed busy. Spangler and his wife had another child, then another.
In 1999, he became the director of Davis-Stuart. Spangler says residents are sent to them by the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Davis-Stuart offers a wide range of support. It's not just about recovery from abuse, he says, but also gaining skills.
The facility is on a sprawling 650-acre farm. They raise vegetables and beef. Students tap trees for maple syrup, learn woodworking and attend school.
"We try to instill a work ethic in our kids," Spangler said. "Some of them come from environments where a work ethic was lacking."
Work and home are hard to separate. Spangler and his family live on the premises at a house about 200 yards from the main compound. Safety is a concern, he says, because residents are sometimes at risk from those who've hurt them before.
"We really don't have many problems here," he said. "There have been a couple of times when we've needed to protect a child from an abuser and I've walked the grounds at 2 in the morning. Mostly, it's fine. We've got good neighbors and great support from the community."
Still, with kids of his own, Spangler says his family has rules to live by.
"No dating," he said. "And no squealing."
Some of the kids in the program go to the local high school. Over the years, they've attended the same school as Spangler's children, rode on the same bus.
They can't come to me and tell me what one of the other kids has done," he said.
There is an exception. If one of his children hears or sees something about one of the residents that could potentially be dangerous, they can bring it to Spangler's wife. She decides whether the information is serious enough to merit his attention.
"It's kept my kids from being stoolies," he said.
Spangler is devoted to his children, and now, later in life, they've become his musical partners and collaborators.
By the end of the 1990s, as he was raising his kids, Spangler was writing music again, though not really performing.
"We always had instruments around the house," he said. "I'm not the best at every single one, but I can make noise come out of all of them."
In turn, each of his kids took an interest. Evan took up the bass guitar. Daughter Hannah learned the banjo and Josiah plays drums. Spangler showed them what he knew, then they went from there, taught themselves or took lessons. When Spangler finally decided to start playing shows again, he often brought them along -- even his wife gets in on the act.
"She does merchandise and development," he said. "She sells our CDs for us and brings information about Davis-Stuart. It's outreach"
Spangler's music has a flavor of folk rock with a little blues. It's an evolution from Christian contemporary without removing the root.
"A lot has changed with me musically, I'd say," Spangler acknowledged. "The way I write music is very different these days. I don't force it. Sometimes, it's love. Sometimes, it's life. Sometimes, it's nonsense."
He is endlessly amused about how his musical tastes differ from the tastes of his kids. Spangler grew up in the '70s, loved rock and remembers '90s grunge as a return to an honest sound. He likes Jack White's Raconteurs. Spangler says his kids are more interested in string band, roots music and guys like Bob Dylan.
"I'm a little more rock and roll." He laughed. "I'm the one they ask to maybe turn it down a little."
Spangler said he's reached a great point in his life. The things he cares the most about, his work with troubled youth, his family and his music, have all come together.
His dreams are different now. He's not looking for fame or a big fortune. He plays out about 14 or 15 times a year, often with his kids, but sometimes without. Spangler wouldn't mind playing a little more, but he wants to keep the right balance.
"I'm just trying to be authentic," he said.
Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195. - Charleston Gazette

"The Spanglers "Restless""

If it's American roots music you're looking for, this Lewisburg-based family band fits the bill nicely. Their folkier material ("Last Chance," "I'll See You Again") is built on sturdy songwriting and thoughtful arrangements, while bluesy songs like "Who Loves You, Baby" and "Brother Cain" have surprisingly deep grooves. "Visions of You" is the clear highlight, a country waltz combining a hymnlike melody with an arrangement that carries emotional heft by alternating between sections of driving rock and old-timey, back-porch a cappella harmonizing. Thematically, the Spanglers might benefit from more self-awareness; their Facebook pledge that their music will "make you use your head for something other than a hat rack" doesn't jibe with the magical thinking in songs like "Circles" or the otherwise catchy "No Such Thing," whose rhythm captures the whimsical bounce of Beatles hits like "Penny Lane" or "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." But when this father, two sons, a daughter and friends skillfully turn a blues cliché on its head in the soulful, Otis Redding-sounding "Washington Street" -- the protagonist's idea of romantic braggadocio is "Gonna talk a little/Gonna listen a lot/You'll enjoy my company" -- the cleverness can't be denied.
Ken Bays - Spotlight West Virginia Magazine

"The Spanglers: Not Your Typical "Family Band from West Virginia""

Since the show began almost two years ago, A Change of Tune has highlighted some of the best up-and-coming artists out of these West Virginia hills with podcast-y chats ranging from The Sea The Sea to Coyotes in Boxes, Qiet to Bud Carroll and beyond.

But those interviews have been a bit infrequent, and since West Virginia Day is coming up (not to mention A Change of Tune’s second birthday), we thought we’d do something special: 30 days, 30 brand new #WVmusic interviews that range from Morgantown alt-rockers and Parkersburg singer-songwriters to West Virginia music venues and regional artist management and beyond, all of which contribute to this state’s wild and wonderful music scene.

And today, we are chatting with The Spanglers, a rock'n, folk'n family band out of Lewisburg, West Virginia. Between the six of them, The Spanglers have over 80 years of combined experience as musicians, not to mention hours and hours of original material. Which begs the question...

How did The Spanglers start playing music?

Mark Spangler has been playing music since the 1980s and has had a couple songs chart on the West Coast scene as a solo artist. His children--Hannah, Josiah, and Evan--grew up surrounded by different instruments and genres of music, and at young ages, started playing music and writing songs together and with their dad. Now, Mark, Evan, Josiah, and Hannah collaborate as The Spanglers who consist of: Mark Spangler on lead vocals and guitar, Josiah Spangler on drums and percussion, Evan Olds on bass and percussion, Hannah Logan on background vocals, Bill Clapham on keyboards, Abigail Reynolds on background vocals, and Jeremiah Hatfield on lead guitar.

Why did you choose your last name for the band name?

We are known around our hometown as a musical family and are often referred to as The Spanglers. Accordingly, we've adopted The Spanglers as our band name. We think it has a ring to it.

Where do The Spanglers play around West Virginia?

We frequent Southern West Virginia, playing festivals, clubs, coffeehouses, theaters, and private events. We recently played The Walker Theater with Ron Sowell and friends at Tamarack, and we're slated to play the Wanderlust Festival at Snowshoe Resort and the West Virginia State Fair, to name a few.

What’s been the highlight of The Spanglers' musical journey?

We have enjoyed writing, arranging, recording, and now releasing our latest album, Restless. The album is completely original, recorded by our friend, Kenneth Clutter, and featuring artwork by our friend and West Virginia artist, Jacob Logan.

What advice would you give to anyone starting to make music?

Have fun. Practice hard and frequently. Don't try to sound like your musical heroes; find your own voice. Don't let your preconceived notions of what others may think squelch your creative process. Be creative, do your best, and trust the listener.

What’s it like making music in West Virginia?

Our music has been well-received, and we've been fortunate to have a pretty full schedule. We encounter a wide variety of venues, and fortunately we have the capability of playing both as a full-scale rock band and as a stripped down acoustic ensemble, depending on the size of the venue.

The Appalachian culture is musically and artistically diverse, so we've noticed a wide age-range represented in our fanbase.

Do you feel held back by being in West Virginia? Or does it feel like a musically-supportive place?

We've long enjoyed a very strong network of musical friends. From attending the songwriters group that meets at Tamarack the first Friday of every month, to swapping shows with other bands from other places, we feel creatively validated by the musical camaraderie here in West Virginia--where musicians are each others' biggest fans.

What, in your opinion, needs to happen in the West Virginia music scene for it to move forward?

Externally, West Virginia tends to draw stereotypes that are inaccurate, including in the musical community. When folks hear "a family band from West Virginia," they are not likely expecting to hear what The Spanglers play. Nonetheless, we've been pretty well-received, and we do like to surprise people with our sound. Mediums like radio programming, social media, and festivals can promote the eclectic sounds of West Virginia and strengthen West Virginia's musical image and offerings to the world.

Internally, West Virginia artists and businesses/venues need to be mindful of how they benefit one another. Many artists operate at a loss financially, and some artists hurt good business by lack of professionalism. We think an open dialogue among venues and artists could help West Virginia's music scene and promote business and tourism.

The Spanglers' latest release is Restless. Keep an eye on their social media for their summer tour dates, including June 11 at Melody's in Beckley and July 30 at The RailYard in Bluefield. To hear more #WVmusic, tune in to A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. And for more #WVMusic chats, make sure to go to - West Virginia Public Broadcasting: A Change of Tune


Transition (Mark Spangler - 2008)

Restless (2016)



Headquartered in Lewisburg and Charleston, West Virginia, The Spanglers are a family band that writes and performs original music, mainly as a six-piece, but can trim down depending on the venue. The Spanglers have up to three hours of original material spanning high energy rock to sparse acoustic. Depending on a venue's needs, the Spanglers can provide sound equipment and a sound engineer or can play acoustically with little equipment. The Spanglers are currently writing and recording their follow up to their first record, Restless, released 2016. New material (Movin' On, John Dear) is included in this press-kit

The Spanglers' first record, Restless, is written and arranged by Mark Spangler (songwriter/guitar), Josiah Spangler (percussion), and Evan Olds (bass); further refined by Jeremiah Hatfield (guitar) and William Clapham (organ); and recorded by Kenneth Clutter (sound engineer). Restless showcases personal, thematic songs, dynamic textures, and a host of genres—blues, americana, and psychedelic—to name a few. Restless also includes the talents of Hannah Spangler (backing vocals), Abby Reynolds (backing vocals), and Annie Stroud (violin).

Band Members