Eagles fans are used to breaks. The popular rock band released their sixth studio album, ‘The Long Run’, in 1979. The group broke up the following year, did not reunite again until 1994 and their next studio album was not released. came out only in 2007.
The Long Run – a Colorado-based Eagles tribute band named after that 1979 record – have 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 Domus Pacis Family Respite, a local non-profit organization. But the annual event has not taken place for 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 is used to provide a week-long respite stay to give families struggling with cancer and other medical issues a break.
The 2019 concert was canceled due to the venue flooding, and the 2020 and 2021 events were not options due to the coronavirus pandemic. New general manager Ken Maldonado joined the organization at the start of the pandemic and didn’t even get a chance to see the band play.
“Everyone is looking for some sense of normalcy again,” Maldonado said. “…People like this band and people are excited to return to venues, to events and to concerts.”
The band is also thrilled, as the Riverwalk concert will be the first performance of The Long Run’s all-new lineup. Percussionist Chris Stongle, bassist Rick Pappano and guitarist Steve Thomas joined earlier in February.
Vocalist and drummer Mark Trippensee is the only founding member of the 13-year-old band.
“I had as many roster changes as the Eagles, really,” Trippensee said. “… With every change of line, you lose a little something, but you gain something else.”
Fans may be confused to see two drummers in the band when Trippensee has somehow filled the role of Don Henley himself, but he assures he’s not doing anything different. The lineup allows for more flexibility, and Trippensee will still occasionally play front guitar.
But drumming was the Longmont resident and New Mexico native’s first love. Her sister’s boyfriend was practicing in their garage, and Trippensee was intrigued by the instrument’s fun factor. He was around 10 years old when he picked up the drumsticks rather than follow the piano path his parents wanted.
“My shoulders and my arthritis are paying for it now, but you can’t stop now,” Trippensee said.
Inspired by artists 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 the shower, but then he provided harmony vocals in a band and found himself typecast as a singer drummer.
But Trippensee thinks he’s no more remarkable than other singers who play an instrument.
“I don’t see it any differently than watching James Taylor play acoustic guitar and sing at the same time,” Trippensee said. “It’s the same thing. You sort 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 hit rock concert promoter Barry Fey. It did not work out, and around 1994 the group “Hearsay” became his first serious musical project. The band recorded two original albums, but Trippensee said it was beyond other melodic rock bands, and it lay on the back burner as the members focused on family and other things.
Trippensee works as a real estate agent when not 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. While on a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, he came up with the idea for The Long Run, thinking it might fill a void in the Denver area.
Around the same time, he formed the cover band Last Men on Earth. He performs with them less often than The Long Run – maybe only a dozen gigs a year – but the act plays a wider variety of tunes. From 2012 to 2015, he was also part of the third band called Rush Archives, doing his best to honor legendary drummer Neil Peart.
“It was a great time to play music without a microphone in front of my face,” Trippensee said of Rush Archives. “I didn’t have to say a word the whole show.”
He doesn’t approach the various tribute bands differently, and he said they made him a stronger musician as he reverse-engineered the hits.
“Everyone should play covers in their lifetime, and everyone should also try to write music with others,” Trippensee said. “When you learn cover songs, you’re actually learning how to write songs, whether you realize it or not.”
Performing in The Long Run and similar projects requires balancing loyalty to the covered band and giving musicians a chance to be creative. Trippensee said parts of certain songs allow them to improvise and add solos, much like how the Eagles also don’t play the same notes live every night.
However, he also acknowledges that there are always songs that shouldn’t be changed.
“You wouldn’t want to mess with the solo on ‘Stairway to Heaven,'” Trippensee said. “Things like ‘Hotel California’, you’re not going to play with the recipe. You try to play it as faithfully as possible because every show you do, there’s probably someone there who doesn’t have you. never heard of it before.
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 mostly traveled to rural locations in Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Kansas and other areas that had fewer health restrictions.
But the concerts that stick most in Trippensee’s mind are the 10th anniversary performance of The Long Run at the Paramount Theater in Denver – where Trippensee graduated and remembers seeing other shows – as well as the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.
The band played there on July 10, 2019 with Face Vocal Band, and Trippensee is proud that a photo of The Long Run now sits on a plaque in a hallway.
“Years later, after we’re all gone, that plaque will be there, and it will be something that I created,” he said.