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Re-living Woodstock with the Paul Shaffer of Baseball

Bill DeYoung

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Brad Trumbull in full Woodstock mode. Photo provided.

Brad Trumbull wasn’t at Woodstock – he would have been a pre-teen at the time – but now that the legendary music ‘n’ mud festival is 50, he’s re-living it over and over again.

Trumbull is the keyboard player, and one of several vocalists, in the bay area band Peace of Woodstock. The group’s show is sort of a condensed cream of Woodstock, with true-to-the-festival “performances” by Hendrix, Joplin, the Who, Santana, CSN, Jefferson Airplane and many of the other well-loved principals.

As the big five-oh (Aug. 15-18) approached, Trumbull and his pseudo-hippie cohorts knew they’d be getting more calls to play. What they didn’t know was how many more. “Of course, we knew it was going to come up,” he says, “but we didn’t expect it to be this big. We’re doing 55-plus shows this year.”

Including a gig this Friday at the Palladium Theater.

He’s even more visible at his day job. Brad Trumbull is the in-house organist at Tropicana Field, the guy who gets the groove going for home games (that’s him wearing a choir robe on Sundays).

With the exception of the eight-year stretch the Rays did away with the instrument altogether, Trumbull has been warming the organ bench since the very first Trop game in 1998.

“It’s great to be back,” he says. “I can’t do all the games so I’m splitting them with another guy. I’m so busy, especially this year with Peace of Woodstock.”

In the late 1990s, when the Rays were cranking up, “I was working at Thoroughbred Music. When they did the original draft, they did it at Al Lang Field. ESPN was there. And they had a stage where all the rock bands were going to play, big festival thing. Our store was doing sound and all the stuff for this.

“The director was walking around through all these musicians, going ‘Hey, I need an organ player. You know an organ player?’ And of course, they all worked with me, and one after another they said ‘Brad.’ So the guy calls me at work and says ‘Can you come down here and play the national anthem for ESPN?’”

Sure I can, Trumbull replied, and so the story began. “When he hired me he said ‘What do you think you should do?’ I said ‘I think I should be the Paul Shaffer of Baseball. Hard rock and roll, because that’s what my age likes.’”

And that’s the way it was, for the first dozen years. Trumbull returned to the Trop in 2018, when the organ was re-instated.

Several members of Peace of Woodstock were pals from Clearwater High School; they’d been in rock groups together forever.

“We put the band back together for fun,” Trumbull explains, “and then we started getting serious, and then I said ‘Hey! We’re doing all these songs from Woodstock … let’s do a whole Woodstock show!’ Everybody laughed and said ‘Yeah. Nobody would want to see that.’

“Well, they did. And then it kept going and got bigger. And of course, this year is the biggest year we’ve had so far.”

Tribute bands, of course, are a hot commodity these days (Trumbull and company have another one, Spencer Road, playing the Allman Brothers Band and the like).

Peace of Woodstock is unique in that they’re paying musical tribute to a whole lotta artists, not just one. “It’s a show,” says Trumbull, noting that the guitar, keyboard and drum solos may change in time or temperature from gig to gig, but the set list remains more or less the same, whether the gang is performing at prestigious Mizner Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton, or the Cooterfest in rural Citrus County.

In Peace of Woodstock, everyone sings, everyone plays. Everyone is someone else, but they always inject their own personality into the music.

Trumbull’s favorite band is Santana; he gets to be Gregg Rolie, the organist and singer who helped define the band’s distinctive sound in the era of Woodstock.

“When we play the Santana stuff, you watch the crowd and they seem to love it,” he says. “And it’s the most musician-ly music that we’re doing in the show.”

Tickets and info here.

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    Larry Knight

    August 21, 2019at6:54 pm

    They only lack Alvin Lee “Ten Years After”….me. LOL Great idea Brad!

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