G Force

He still loves to pitch in

(Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / January 8, 2011

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Q. You’ve played a half dozen or so “Hot Stove’’ shows. What keeps you coming back?

A. It’s mostly because of the camaraderie of the guys who play the show, Peter Gammons and Theo Epstein and all the old Boston [musicians], I love seeing those guys once a year.

Q. The billing lists you “with’’ American Hi-Fi. Will they be your back-up band?

A. I’m going to have a big band up there this year: Eric Gardner playing drums and Clint Walsh playing guitar — they both played with Gnarls Barkley — and Drew Parsons and Jamie Arentzen from American Hi-Fi are playing as well. And I think the new guitar player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Josh Klinghoffer), who’s also a buddy of mine, is going to come and jam, too.

Q. With these guys at your disposal what will you be playing?

A. I think we’re going to do an old-school Pearl Jam set. I’ve always wanted to do this and these guys were, like, ‘alright.’ I tried to talk them into dressing up like [Pearl Jam] but I don’t think they want to do it. (Laughs).

Q. Retirement is not imminent of course, but when you hang up your glove do you envision pursuing music more avidly?

A. I don’t know if I ever will. For me it’s been something that’s fun that I haven’t had to take so serious. It’s hard enough to make it in that industry as it is, much less trying to overcome the athlete stereotype. I’m sure I’ll always play five or 10 times a year for charity events and to have a good time.

Q. So fans of your musical side shouldn’t be holding their breath for a follow-up to your grunge-leaning 2005 covers album “Covering the Bases’’?

A. I think eventually, I probably will make an original record. But I’m never going to want to put something out until I feel comfortable that the songs are something that I would really want to listen to or would be a representation of me. And for the time being it’s just really hard for me to write songs that I feel are that. Because the music that I love, the [songs] that are on “Covering the Bases,’’ most of those come from a relatively dark place and I never have and don’t see myself having those dark places in my life. Just being an optimistic guy in itself makes it hard to write that type of music.

Q. I hear you made a bunch of money recently [signing a three-year, $35 million contract extension with the Reds], maybe you could hire a fancy producer and some song doctors?

A. (Laughs). That’s true, I could have someone else write them for me! I wouldn’t mind doing that, honestly. But I feel like if I’m going to put out an original record I don’t want it to be like an “American Idol’’ thing, where they shove 12 songs down your throat and you say they’re yours. I would like for at least some of them to be from me.

Q. Which do you get more nervous doing: trying to spot a fastball in an important game or getting up and singing and playing in a club?

A. Definitely the music because I feel like you’re performing for people who paid to come and watch something that you’re supposed to do well. Baseball I feel like I’m playing for my teammates and myself. I feel like the fans at a baseball game are like bystanders. They’re there to watch the game but I don’t feel indebted to put on a good performance for the baseball fans, musically I feel like I should.

This interview was edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at

Bronson Arroyo
Former Red Sox and current Cincinnati Reds pitcher who moonlights as a musical performer returns to play the annual “Hot Stove, Cool Music’’ benefit concert at the Paradise next Saturday alongside pals Peter Gammons, Theo Epstein, Buffalo Tom, the Lemonheads, American Hi-Fi, and others. He checked in from a golf outing in Las Vegas.

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