Coach a Little League baseball team for 23 years and you’re sure to get to know a plethora of interesting and inventive young boys who grow up to become even more interesting and inventive adults.
Trevor Larkin certainly fits that bill.
Trevor became a member of our team as a 10-year-old in the spring of 1992 and played three seasons in the Pacific Little League, highlighted by an All-City championship season in 1994 in which he was a key contributor.
Who knew way back then that Trevor was destined to become the lead guitarist in a rhythm and blues band — Allen Stone — that has become one of the genre’s most recognized and well-received groups worldwide?
The band recently completed a 50-day summer tour. And Trevor — in town to visit his parents Tim and Merry Larkin — agreed to drop by the Union-Bulletin and reminisce about his baseball-playing days and update his old coach on his life as a guitar man.
Unlike his ability to make guitar strings sing, baseball didn’t come easily for Trevor. But like learning the guitar, his strong work ethic and relentless determination made it all work.
By the time he was 12, Trevor was one of our top pitchers, batted cleanup and was the fastest runner on the team. We couldn’t have won the All-City without him.
Trevor continued to play baseball for the next couple of years. And he played basketball and ran track and field as well during his middle-school years at Garrison.
But by then playing guitar had made its way into his bloodstream. And as the old saying goes, when that bug bites you, you live with the sting.
“I started playing guitar when I was 13 or 14,” Trevor recollected. “It was after Little League, but music was always a big part of my life. My parents were great about never pressuring me, but there was always music in the house.
“And in retrospect, I recognized that the guitar came really naturally to me.”
Trevor’s first guitar, he said, “was an old beater” that his parents bought for him.
“I must have expressed an interest that I wanted to play, and they probably got it at some garage sale,” he said. “And I would hack away at it as best I could.”
He quickly graduated to his first electric guitar and basically taught himself to play.
“But as I progressed and got into high school, one of the great things was having Whitman College here in town,” Trevor said. “They have a lot of clinicians and guest speakers and jazz musicians in particular. And I took some private lessons from people stopping through.
“But it was exciting, teaching yourself, falling in love and becoming obsessed.”
Trevor graduated from Wa-Hi in 2000 and took his musical hunger to Boston and the Berklee College of Music.
“Berklee is not super well known outside of music circles, but it’s on par with Julliard,” Trevor said. “And it helped that I had family in Boston and that I had taken a couple of summer courses there. It was a fairly easy transition.”
Two years later, a bachelor of music degree in hand, he transitioned back to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Seattle where he made his way by playing in a variety of bands and doing free lance work with the Seattle Symphony as well as ballets and operas.
“I knew that I wasn’t ready for Los Angeles or New York,” Trevor said. “Musically, yes, but emotionally I was still a pretty sensitive younger person. I wasn’t ready for that hyper competitive environment.
“So I moved to Seattle and planned to stay for a few months and then go to LA. I ended up staying for 10 or 11 years.”
And it was during those years that the band Allen Stone was born.
“It was in the summer of 2011 and there was a venue in Seattle, the Sea Monster Lounge, where a lot of musicians would hang out,” Trevor remembered. “It was a dive, but a fun dive, and I played in the house band there on Sunday nights.
“And all of the guys who would subsequently become members of Allen Stone hung out there.”
One Sunday night Allen Stone came into the club in a panic, Trevor said.
“He had the opportunity to open for a soul artist in California and he didn’t know how to do it,” Trevor said. “He didn’t really have a band or know how the music business worked, so we agreed to go with him and learn the tunes.
“We learned the tunes for the set on the van ride down there. And the first time we ever played together was in sound check.”
It must have gone well, because on the second night the group was approached by a booking agent who wanted to sign them.
“We got very lucky,” Trevor said. “That second night was at a famous club in Los Angeles called the Roxy, and this booking agent saw our show and wanted to sign us. Our second day in existence and we had a booking agent.”
In short order, the band embarked on a 10-day road tour.
“Ten days became two weeks and two weeks became three,” he remembered. “That was in June, and in October we played the Conan O’Brien show. It happened very fast.
“We were at a point where we were hanging on for dear life, and it was really exciting when the band started getting those opportunities. For so many years taking any gig and hoping the phone rings, to have people asking you to do stuff is tremendous.”
The band was on tour for 300 days in 2012, including Europe for the first time, opened for the likes of Stevie Wonder and the Dave Matthews Band and made television appearances on the Jay Leno and David Letterman late night shows. The band also released its first record that year.
“All of those touchstones for the band were so incredible,” Trevor said. “We started with a beater van, progressed to a slightly better van and by the fall of 2012 we were in a tour bus.
“It was a very rapid upward trajectory that is extremely unusual for bands. But everyone’s life looked different in 2013 in a good way.”
The television appearances were particularly comforting to Trevor’s parents, he said.
“My parents have always been supportive, but Berklee was a great compromise since not going to college was never an option,” he said. “But it wasn’t until the Allen Stone band began to take off and the late night TV shows that my parents figured it was a good deal and that I was safe and that the bills were being paid.
“We were playing Australia and I took a picture with Paul Simon. They got a big kick out of that, and it is exciting for them to have those touchstones.”
The band is scheduled to release its fourth album in November and doesn’t plan to go on tour again until early next year.
In the meantime, the band members have gone their separate ways. Allen Stone, who grew up in Chewelah, lives in Spokane when he’s not on tour, and other band members have gone home to Portland and Los Angeles.
Trevor calls Nashville home these days and he satisfies his creative cravings with a podcast where he interviews people he finds interesting in and out of the music world. He also writes a daily newsletter/blog he calls Mind of Trevor.
“I’ve written something every day since Jan. 1 of 2018,” he said. “It’s ostensibly whatever I want to talk about on that day — arts and creating, travels, anecdotes and observations — and if it’s longer than a thumb scroll it’s too long.
“I’ve always loved writing and it is a natural extension of my travels and being a musician.”
Trevor is also using his downtime to work on his own band, Climb The Sky, a vehicle in which he is not only the lead guitarist but the lead singer as well. So far it is a three-piece band with a goal of releasing one song a month.
“This is a rock band,” Trevor explained. “The music is big, loud guitars, more like Tom Petty than Stevie Wonder. We have already played a handful of shows in Nashville and we will absolutely go on tour when the time is right.
“It is a fantastic counter balance to the Allen Stone project,” he added. “I co-write with Allen, but it is his show. With this band I get to be more the center of attention, which to my shame my ego enjoys.”
Regardless of the success Climb The Sky achieves, Trevor has no plans to part company with Allen Stone.
“My ideal career right now would be to do four tours a year, two with Allen Stone and two with Climb the Sky.
Whatever the future holds, it’s pretty certain that music will be the centerpiece for Trevor.
“I love music and am deeply proud of the person that it has allowed me to become,” he said. “I could have become a lawyer or an actuary, but I wanted to be a musician and am so happy I trusted myself and stuck with it.
“You can always do something different, which gives me permission to enjoy what I am doing now.”