Benefit for a Trooper

 Benefit for a Trooper

By Lou Pastina

On January 26, at the Rockaway Knights of Columbus on Beach 90th Street, friends of the late Greg Trooper will be staging a benefit in his honor to help raise funds for pancreatic cancer. If you didn’t know Greg, he was the consummate singer-songwriter, writing and performing his own songs until he passed untimely in 2017. Seven years later, people who loved Greg and his music are keeping his memory alive with this tribute. The cost is only $10, and there will be a 50-50 raffle, but the idea is to remember his music and the person.

Greg was a talented, gifted songwriter. Unassuming, good natured, he could play and sing with authority. Greg was one of those musicians’ musicians, meaning that a real musician would appreciate the subtle nature of how Greg approached his craft. He had some very talented guitarists in his bands, people like Larry Campbell and Steve Earle. Vince Gill and Billy Bragg among many others recorded his songs. He spent time in Nashville plying his trade. He became very popular in Europe and would tour there. His songs were personal, earthy, and soulful; and, about real life, kind of like John Prine. One year, my mermaid decided that she would like to learn guitar. Our relationship had started with me trying to teach her guitar over 40 years ago. The lessons kind of got in the way of our relationship, and well, we will be married 40 years this September and she never learned a lick of music. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I got the best of that deal. But when she said she was going to ask Greg to teach her, I knew there was a real chance she might actually learn to play. Greg began teaching her some Neil Young songs and soon the blisters on the fingers started, which then became the end of that. He always referred to her as his “dropout.” The mermaid’s loss to music is yoga’s gain.

I first heard about Greg Trooper from a friend who was Greg’s brother-in-law. When he talked about the Greg Trooper Band, I thought it was some heavy metal type band. At that point, I had never heard him play his songs. Years later, I came to realize that the type of music he wrote and played was exactly what I aspired to and loved. So, I got to see Greg play a few times. And I loved that he always wore a hat. One time he was the opening act at a music festival in Floyd Bennett Field. That’s what they use to do there. Anyway, Greg got up to play at this huge field they set up. The mermaid and I were there, but apparently no one got the word, and we were there with a small contingent of family and fans. I learned a lot about being professional that day. He played like the place was jammed packed and did a rendition of his song, “Ireland” that has stayed with me ‘til this day.

Years later, we saw him play at the RAA in a more intimate setting, and it was the first time I heard him play “They Call Me Hank.” I was blown away. When Greg passed of pancreatic cancer, they had a benefit for him at St. Mark’s in the East Village.  The place was filled with musicians and poets who shared music and stories about him. His songs are still available through various streaming services and his website is still available. I would recommend “Ireland” and “They Call Me Hank” as a good starting point. If you got nothing going on Friday night, the 26th at 7 p.m., the $10 bucks will be well spent to hear some excellent local musicians in their own right pay homage to Greg Trooper. He was, and still is, a treasure. I hope to see you there!


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