Deland, Fl

Conflict of Interest formed by chance in DeLand, FL., on Dec. 31st, 1987, when two newspaper reporters and the husband of a competing newspaper columnist of another publication in town got together to form a jazz-pop trio. Gary Davidson was the Volusia County government reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, based in the county seat of DeLand, where Valdosta, GA's Billy Bruce also worked as a staff reporter. Davidson plays guitar. Bruce plays drums.They jammed. Then Davidson told Bruce that Barb Shepherd -- a reporter-columnist for the now defunct DeLand Sun News -- was married to a saxophone player -- Jeff Shepherd. Jeff worked for the Florida Dept. of Transportation in their district headquarters in DeLand. Bruce and Davidson often reported on FDOT issues in their reporting duties. And because Jeff's wife worked for a competing newspaper, and Jeff worked for a news source for Davidson and Bruce -- they came up with the name "Conflict of Interest." Well. Because it was. "We had had some jam sessions just fooling around," Bruce said from his current home in Hahira, Ga. "And Jeff would play the melody while Gary carried the chords and rhythm with my support on drums. I guess you could say it was therapeutic. But we were only considering trying to form a band when we got a call that a club downtown DeLand needed a band RIGHT NOW for their New Year's Eve celebration. This was Dec. 31, 1987, you see." (Or was it that they went down to the club and saw that they didn't have a band and offered their services? Memories fade. But that gig spawned a pretty good working trio unit that worked festivals, played for Chambers of Commerce events and also played for MainStreet DeLand Assoc. functions. "It was great," Bruce recalled. "We'd be reporting and writing news all day and Jeff would slave away at the FDOT. And we'd read in our own newspaper about the events that we were booked to play. Nighttime became gig time." The Orlando Sentinel filed a story about the band at one of their events some 18 months later in 1989. A reporter writing about reporters and... Well you get the picture. It WAS a Conflict of Interest all the way around.

(pics and info courtesy Billy Bruce)

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