068 What can people expect from your upcoming event at the Ridgefield Playhouse?
BW We’re excited to be back at The Ridgefield Playhouse. I’ve been performing at the Playhouse since 2009, so this is probably my 8th or 9th time there. The Ridgefield Playhouse is like family to me. The concert set we have is always different- instrumental and vocal tunes – an eclectic mix of Latin Jazz, tropical rhythms and new arrangements of blues, pop, and rock classics. Because the performance is going to be outside again, it’ll be a very different show than what I would play inside. This will be a good old fashioned outdoor summer concert!
Several years ago, we added the celebrity softball game, which is always so much fun. I love doing the softball game because I get to bring my teammates and friends. In the past, we’ve had Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Bobby Valentine, Darryl Strawberry, Jim Leyritz, Cecil Fielder, Mickey Rivers, Carlos Pena. Even the legendary Tommy LaSorda attended the last game as an honorary manager; a special moment for everyone! Everyone has a ton of fun, and the fact that the whole day raises money for both the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and Leir Foundation Arts for Everyone program is also something that’s important to me.
068 When did you start getting into music? Did music and baseball ever mix?
BW When I was about 8 years old, my father had brought a flamenco guitar back from Spain. He would play it at night in our living room, and one night I got the courage to ask him to teach me how to play. That’s all it took. I was hooked and seeing how the music moved people was so impactful. When I had the opportunity to pick up a guitar, it was like it was inside of me. It was a challenge to learn how to play, but I didn’t want to stop. In fact, my brother Hiram and I graduated from the Escuela Libre de Musica, a performing arts high school. I DEFINITELY think there is a correlation between music and baseball – the discipline, the movement, the preparation – when I was playing baseball there was always a guitar with me – from the long bus rides in the minor leagues, to the Yankee charter flights when we traveled. While Derek Jeter always sat directly in front of me on those flights and told me cut out that racket when I was playing the guitar, he would sometimes break out a falsetto voice and we’d do some Lionel Ritchie songs. Those were some great times. My book Rhythms of the Game is all about understanding the similarities between musical artistry and athletic performance. The book is written for musicians and athletes looking to improve their level of performance on the stage or on the field, as well as for people just interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the underlying influence of music on the game.
068 Who are some of your favorite musicians? Any modern music you are a fan of?
BW As a guitarist,I really enjoy the fusion side of jazz, and I was inspired to listen to some “gritty” guitar players who also possessed serious jazz chops. John Scofield, Scott Henderson, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Robben Ford, Wayne Kranz, Greg Howe, and Wayne Kranz are just a few of my favorites. I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate and perform with many of my favorite artists including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Jon Secada, Dave Koz, Ruben Blades, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Béla Fleck, Leland Sklar and so many more. I have always been open to listening to as many different genres of music as possible – could be classical, Latin, rock, jazz, pop, rock, or even metal – I never stop exploring!
068 What’s the difference between playing with a baseball team and playing with your band?
BW It is always a team effort whether you’re playing a sport or with a band. When I was playing baseball, as much as I loved and adored the fans, who are the reason we even play – I felt I needed to block out the crowd and basically focus on playing the game. When you’re performing music, it’s a different dynamic because you have to
be able to invite and engage the audience into your world, interact with them,
play to them, tell stories, and let
068 How was it to win FOUR world Championships? Were you satisfied or inspired to strive for more?
BW I think when you love what you do, you’re always inspired to continue to do your best no matter what. You don’t think ‘okay, I won my fourth Championship- I’m good.’ Once you experience a World Series championship, my teammates and I inherently felt that the goal for every season that followed was to be the last team standing. I am so proud to have played in six World Series, winning four of them. Just like with music, I’m always inspired to strive for more. I feel that I’m very fortunate to have two passions that I love and can do successfully. I think that’s why every show I do is a little different. I think receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SUNY Potsdam back in 2019 summed it up for me; when I was recognized for my on field success for 16 years as a Yankee, as well as my artistic accomplishments as a musician, and my dedication to the importance of philanthropy. That says it all. Do what you love, do it well, and give back to your community when you can.•