David R. Morgan: The Captain Has Left the Stage
“Leaning over, the Captain listens.
“What is that?” the young girl asks, pointing to the contraption he sits behind.
“It’s a pedal-steel guitar,” he says.
“Can you show me?”
He smiles, leans over a little more, pulls his cowboy hat down, and begins to play.
Liquid steel seeps through his fingers and slide, gliding across a dozen strings. Single crystal-clear notes, swelling chords the colors of deep velvet, azure blue, and fiery yellow twangs as hot as the summer sun sweep off the stage, enrapturing the girl. She raises up her hands, closes her eyes, and sways to his heavenly music. He stops suddenly and tips his hat to her. She smiles, bows, and walks away.
The band joins him on stage, and they kick out one last set of timeless, country songs.
The happy crowd swings by to tip their hats to the Captain, then claps their hands, and they dance the whole night away.”
This was David’s last gig.
Born in New York City and raised in Melvin, Illinois, David R. Morgan made his home in San Diego County in 1977 following a successful career as a touring multi-instrumentalist with country and western bands in New England. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the most prolific and sought-after musicians in North County, particularly for his performances on the pedal-steel guitar.
In 1992, David co-founded Spare Change with former Los Angeles and Bakersfield studio veteran Randy Sterling (Neil Diamond, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson) and fiddle player Stacey Slaughter. The trio released five albums and performed extensively throughout San Diego County. David and Randy established the Morgan Ranch Studio at David’s home in Encinitas as a creative outpost to record their music and other local singer-songwriters. In addition to Spare Change, David has recorded and played with numerous artists including the Mark Jackson Band, Grand Canyon Sundown, and his son Aaron’s bands Golden Void and the Finches.
David’s latest solo album, Hindsight, pulls from material recorded between 2010-2020 and was completed in the final months of his life.
David R. Morgan, award-winning songwriter and composer, brilliant instrumentalist, preeminent pedal-steel guitar player, recording engineer/producer, and our friend the Captain has left the stage.
And so, we honor him by performing his songs and the songs he loved to play and sing.
Joined by Mark C. Jackson, Julia and Aaron Morgan, members of Grand Canyon Sundown, and a host of David’s great friends, San Diego Folk Heritage presents a musical tribute celebrating his life and legacy on April 23rd at 7:30pm. Please go to https://www.sdfolkheritage.org for information and tickets.