Sitting in the Chase Field locker room, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo and outfielder Mark Trumbo are jamming with blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa.
Arroyo and Trumbo strum acoustic guitars as the pitcher sings over licks by Bonamassa, who later that day would perform the national anthem.
“He was just really down to earth and chill,” Arroyo says about the blues guitarist. “It can be a very awkward environment to sit down and jam with the guys—especially since most of us who play music in the baseball world aren’t at the level in order to keep up.
“But it was nice. We got to play a couple songs. Me and Trumbo played and I sang. Joe just riffed over the top of them, which was cool. I asked him to play some old stuff, stuff he learned as a kid, like Hendrix.
Arroyo and Trumbo are two of a handful of Diamondbacks athletes who play music. They have fabulous stories of jamming with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, meeting Rush’s Geddy Lee, and hanging out with Billy Corgan.
In 2005, Arroyo released his appropriately-dubbed debut album, Covering the Bases. It included covers from bands such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters and Incubus. The album also includes the Red Sox victory song “Dirty Water” by The Standells.
SINGING WITH DAD
At a young age, Arroyo pumped iron in the weight room with his father, who would listen to ‘70s rock. None of it inspired Arroyo.
“He would have the radio on,” says Arroyo, 38. “I did get used to hearing the oldies—The Beatles, Mamas and the Papas, Credence Clearwater (Revival) and Elton John and all those guys.
“I like the music, but nothing about that music made me want to play it. I heard ‘Plush’ by Stone Temple Pilots when I was 15. It had a whole different vibe. There was more angst in his voice and the story he was telling. That’s what sparked my interest in music.”
In 1999, while Arroyo was playing Double-A ball with the Pittsburgh Pirates he picked up an acoustic guitar for the first time and was enthralled.
“There was a guy who worked as the clubhouse manager who put the food out and cleaned the clothes and everything,” he recalls. “He slept in the clubhouse—that’s what happens in the minor leagues. A lot of guys pretty much live there.
“Anyway, he had an acoustic guitar. I picked it up tooled around with it. I had just kind of just gotten to the point where I was really singing along with Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam and Creed. I never had any formal training. I was drawn to the guitar. I got to where I could hear the beginnings of a song then I was completely hooked.”
While Arroyo was inspired by 1990s rock, these days he’s been listening to country.
“It seems like rock is a dying breed,” he says. “The really catchy, poppy melodies are coming out of Luke Bryan, Keith Urban and Lee Brice. I’m listening to a bit of that.
“I really loved the Lumineers record. I like their funky folky style. I saw them in concert a couple times. Those types of things are really grabbing me.
“I just love anything that you can play with an acoustic guitar and have a singalong. I’m not really boxed into one specific genre. I loved Staind, Creed and Pearl Jam, but there’s only a few of them around. If they are around, they’re not putting out a lot of new music. You’re forced to look elsewhere.”
Arroyo doesn’t plan on penning his own album anytime soon. He’s too busy recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and keeping his body in shape for baseball.
“Most of the music I loved listening to that really turned me on is all dark stuff,” he adds. “I haven’t had much of that in my life. I grew up with a father talking to me when I was 13, 14 years old in a weight room about the glass being half full under any circumstances.
“That’s regardless of anything, like if your arm got chopped off or if someone has a gun in your mouth and they were going to shoot you. With that mentality, mixed with the fact that I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player and I made it happen, most of the things in my life have gone as planned. I don’t have a lot of angst in me to really write an authentic story that comes from [a place within]. They come out ‘pretty’ and I don’t know that I want to put my stamp on them as mine.”
He would like to jam again with Bonamassa, whose Comerica Theatre show Arroyo did not attend.
“He was telling stories,” Arroyo says. “They were playing in major altitude in Colorado Springs a couple days before. The trumpet player had a hard time keeping up with the notes. He purposely lengthened the songs. He was dying to keep up. That was hilarious.”