The Long Run returns to Riverwalk Center after yearslong absence
Concert benefits Domus Pacis Family Respite
Eagles fans are used to hiatuses. The popular rock band released its sixth studio album, “The Long Run,” in 1979. The band broke up the next year, didn’t reunite again until 1994 and its next studio album didn’t come out until 2007.
The Long Run — a Colorado-based Eagles tribute band that takes its name from that 1979 record — has been a frequent visitor to the Summit County music scene, regularly performing “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Take It Easy” and other hits to benefit local nonprofit Domus Pacis Family Respite. But the annual event hasn’t occurred in three years.
The Long Run performance is part of a concert series that also features the John Adams Band’s tribute to John Denver, and it acts as the largest fundraiser for the organization. The money goes toward providing a week respite stay to give families coping with cancer and other medical issues a break.
The 2019 concert was canceled due to the venue flooding, and the 2020 and 2021 events weren’t options because of the coronavirus pandemic. New Executive Director Ken Maldonado joined the organization at the start of the pandemic and hasn’t even had the chance to see the group play.
“Everyone is looking for some sense of normalcy again,” Maldonado said. “… People like this group and people are excited to get back into venues and into events and into concerts.”
The band is also excited, as the Riverwalk concert will be the first performance for The Long Run’s brand-new lineup. Percussionist Chris Stongle, bassist Rick Pappano and guitarist Steve Thomas joined earlier in February.
Singer and drummer Mark Trippensee is the only founding member left in the 13-year-old band.
“I’ve had as much lineup changes as the Eagles had, really,” Trippensee said. “… With every line change, you lose a little something, but you gain something else.”
What: The Long Run benefit concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge
Cost: $35 for general admission, $50 for VIP and $15 for children 18 and younger. Visit BreckCreate.org to purchase.
Fans may be confused to see two drummers in the band when Trippensee sort of filled the Don Henley role himself, but he assures that he isn’t doing anything different. The lineup allows for more flexibility, and Trippensee will still occasionally play guitar in front, as well.
But the drums were the first love for the Longmont resident and New Mexico native. His sister’s boyfriend would practice in their garage, and Trippensee was intrigued by the instrument’s fun factor. He was around 10 years old when he grabbed the sticks rather than follow the pianist path his parent’s wanted.
“My shoulders and arthritis pay for it now, but you can’t stop now,” Trippensee said.
Inspired by acts like Night Ranger, Bad Company and Phil Collins, a passion for singing then followed suit. At first, he kept it to himself, singing in the car or shower, but then he provided harmony vocals in a band and found himself typecast as a singing drummer.
But Trippensee believes it isn’t any more remarkable than other singers who play an instrument.
“I don’t look at it any different than watching James Taylor play acoustic guitar and sing at the same time,” Trippensee said. “It’s the same thing. You kind of learn them independently, and then all these years later, you don’t know any better.”
Trippensee studied music production and music marketing in Denver with the goal of working for successful rock concert promoter Barry Fey. It didn’t pan out, and around 1994 the band “Hearsay” became his first serious musical project. The group recorded two original albums, but Trippensee said it was past the prime of other melodic rock bands, and it went on the back burner as members focused on family and other things.
Trippensee works as a real estate agent when he isn’t on stage or in the studio. He opened for national acts from 2005 to 2008 in addition to being part of an Alice in Chains tribute band. On a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, he had the idea for The Long Run, thinking that it could fill a void in the Denver area.
Around the same time, he formed the cover band Last Men on Earth. He performs with them not as often as The Long Run — maybe only a dozen concerts a year — but the act plays a larger variety of tunes. From 2012 to 2015, he was also a part of third band called Rush Archives, doing his best to honor legendary drummer Neil Peart.
“It was a great time to actually play music without a microphone in my face,” Trippensee said about Rush Archives. “I didn’t have to say a darn word the entire show.”
He doesn’t approach the various tribute bands any differently, and he said they made him a stronger musician as he reverse engineered the hits.
“Everyone should play covers during their lives, and everyone should try to write music with others, too,” Trippensee said. “When you’re learning cover songs, you’re actually learning how to write songs whether you realize it or not.”
Playing in The Long Run and similar endeavors requires a balance of being true to the band being covered as well as giving musicians a chance to be creative. Trippensee said some parts of certain songs allow them to improvise and add solos, just like how the Eagles don’t play the same notes live every night, either.
However, he also acknowledges that there are always songs that shouldn’t be altered.
“You wouldn’t want to mess with the solo to ‘Stairway to Heaven,’” Trippensee said. “Things like ‘Hotel California,’ you don’t go messing with the recipe. You try to play it as faithful as you can because every show you do, there’s likely somebody there that hasn’t heard you do it before.”
The Long Run’s take on the Eagles hasn’t been heard in places like Arizona and California, but Trippensee hopes to tour there eventually. During the pandemic, the group has mainly traveled to venues in rural Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Kansas and other areas that had fewer health restrictions.
But the concerts that stick the most in Trippensee’s mind are The Long Run’s 10th anniversary performance at the Paramount Theatre in Denver — where Trippensee received his diploma and has memories of seeing other shows — as well as the acclaimed Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
The band played there July 10, 2019, with Face Vocal Band, and Trippensee is proud that a photo of The Long Run now is on a plaque in a hallway.
“Years later, after we’re all gone, that plaque will be there, and it will be something I created,” he said.
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