Twins' Jared Burton: I always found myself infatuated with guitar

Twins' Jared Burton: I always found myself infatuated with guitar
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

The talk among Major League Baseball fans tends to focus on two items: the win-loss column and fantasy league stats. Gimme Noise, however, takes other notes when watching the game. After hearing about Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Jared Burton's jam session with Pearl Jam icon Eddie Vedder earlier this year, we sought out the tall right-hander to discuss something other than his split-fingered fastball.

In an exclusive chat with Burton about his guitar-playing and his musical interests.

Gimme Noise: When did you start playing guitar?

Jared Burton: I always was a music fan and I always found myself infatuated with guitar. I would be riding around and pick out the strum patterns and strum along on my leg with my hand. I felt like I had a good ear for it. If I was to get one, I wanted to put some time in. I didn't want to just dabble in it. I finally got one Christmas '03, so it's been about nine years or so. Ever since then, I just dove into it and caught on pretty quick. It's been a favorite hobby of mine ever since.

Have you always played by yourself, or with a band?

Coming up through the minor leagues, I really didn't have many people I played with that played guitar, but now [Brian] Duensing plays a little bit, [Nick] Blackburn (who was with us last year) plays a little bit, so there are guys that take theirs on the road as well.

Do you play around with your own stuff or do you like to play other people's songs?

I learn mostly covers. I dabble with my own stuff, [but] I haven't really put together a lot of complete songs, so to speak. As far as messing with alternate tunings and messing around freestyle, seeing where it goes, I do that a good bit.

Does living in a hotel give you more time or less to play?

Every time we have a road trip I take mine on the road and, usually in the mornings when we get up, I'll grab some breakfast and that whole morning I'm listening to music and messing around with stuff. That's what I do in the morning. I don't do it a whole lot at night in the hotel because I've had complaints. Security will come knock on my door.

If I've got spare time and I'm not at the field, if I'm just chilling at home I'm usually messing around with my guitar.

When you played with Eddie Vedder [in April], you said you would retire the guitar. Did you?

Absolutely, [though] it was kind of hard to retire that one. I had it custom made back in 2010 and it was pretty special. But I figure it's also pretty special who the last guy to play it was too. I decided to retire it after he signed it. I got another one that's not quite as nice, but it's definitely nice enough.

I got another Breedlove. It's the same brand, different model. It's not custom. It just had the most similar playability. I played like five or six different ones -- I went back and forth for an hour in the store and it played the most like the one I had.

Do you like to stick to one, or do you have a collection?

I have the first one I ever got -- my grandparents actually got it for me for Christmas. It's just a great guitar, but I mostly play my Breedlove. I also have an electric. I don't have it with me, but in the offseason if I feel like getting loud, I play the electric. My dog doesn't like that, though.

Do you play a different style with the electric?

I do a lot more muting and Metallica-type stuff. It's fun to crank it up and drop-D and fly all over the place with an electric guitar.

What do you like to play, or listen to for that matter? Is there one predominant style?

As a music fan it's pretty broad. I definitely do not like country music. I really enjoy classic rock stuff: Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, all those and, of course the grunge era like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.

So it really all came together when Eddie Vedder came into the Clubhouse?

A common question people ask you is, "If you could ever meet somebody, who would it be?"

He's the guy. I got to meet him. I got to see him play my guitar and play with him singing. It was a special night. I don't know if he'll ever realize how special it was to me and how much he moves people with his music or just being around him -- you can tell just being around him he's a special guy.


How did you pick the Black Angels' "Young Men Dead" as your walkout song?

From a couple of friends [from when] I played with the Reds, Sam LaCure and Matt Maloney. LaCure played baseball at the University of Texas and he's lived in Austin, where the band is from. The beat of that song stuck out to me. I hear it and it fires me up.

Our game got cancelled in Chicago earlier this year and the Black Angels were in town. I got to see them at the Vic Theater. I went backstage and met them. It was awesome.

I told them that it was my walkout song and they thought it was awesome. Actually, LaCure uses one of their other songs. "Prodigal Son" is his intro song as well.

Do you ever get to check out local music in the Twin Cities?

I went to Bunkers a few times last year and saw Dr. Mambo's Combo. It's got a good funk vibe, good energy; everybody was in there for the music: a nice chill atmosphere. I got to see a band called Root City last year one time. They were kind of a reggae feel. That's the only two I really saw. I've been to Barbette a couple of times and saw some small bands.

You're not here in the offseason, so I'm sure that cuts into your time a lot.

Exactly. We play mostly night games and it's tough to get out and see them.

Do you get to pay attention when the local bands play out on the party deck?

It's during game time and from the bullpen we can barely see the board between innings when they play, so I don't get to see them. It's mostly for the fans.

You haven't put in a request to go jam up there someday?

I haven't put in that request yet. Maybe so, maybe so.

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