By day, Nathan Spenser is a cool substitute science and math high school teacher for the Granite School District. But two to five nights a week, he is in the Salt Lake City music scene as a multifaceted artist. He plays keyboard, guitar, mandolin and harmonica and sings in a band. He just turned 29, and holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Utah.
You have a lot of gigs for a school teacher. Where do you perform?
I do both public venues and private events. For instance, I have dates coming up on January 18 at Gracie's and on February 2 and 16 at Twist. I also play at the Snowbird Tram Club, the Garage on Beck and out of state near Jackson, Wyoming, and in Las Vegas. Sometimes I perform solo and sometimes with my band, The Nathan Spenser Revue.
How did you get involved with music and public performance?
I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, and I went to local schools where I studied piano and keyboard. At 15, I got my first guitar, and by 18 I was playing local coffee shops. I found that I like blues and jazz, but more country and western. I definitely liked the local Salt Lake music scene, because fellow artists help push each other to become better.
What kind of music do you lean toward?
I get inspiration from artists like Bruce Springsteen and Norah Jones and Prince. Prince said his most favorite song is the next song he writes. I like that, and I write a lot, and mainly I gravitate to what we call Intermountain West; that is music from the Rocky Mountain region of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado—areas that reflect the Western motif. I love the John Denver style, but I can play a variety of styles, so I manage to get a lot of dates.
You have an extraordinary playlist. How do you manage to even remember all that without notes?
I've had lots of music theory, and we constantly rehearse like crazy. What defines a cool song for me—and that makes it easier to remember—is a story and music that is interesting. I step inside the story with my own interpretation. Stepping inside the story helps you deliver. Music is great for the soul; it creates happiness and joy.
You seem to have so much. Is there anything else you'd like?
Supporting live local music helps perpetuate this great culture of ours. People should come out more for live shows. And, meeting a nice girl would be nice.