Play me a song: the organist of the Braves charms the fans, entertains the players


By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press October 31, 2021.

Atlanta Braves organist Matthew Kaminski plays an organ overlooking Truist Field ahead of the fourth World Series baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, October 30, 2021 in Atlanta. Kaminski, the organist since the start of the 2009 season, has played over 1,000 games and has become somewhat of a cult figure with the witty selections he plays as backing music for opposing players. (AP Photo / Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA (AP) – Matthew Kaminski was planning on playing a Grateful Dead song as backing music for the Houston starting pitcher at the World Series.

Luis Garcia. Jerry Garcia. To find?

Then, after catching a glimpse of the rookie pitcher’s unique liquidation against the Braves in his hometown of Atlanta, Kaminski was suddenly struck with a bit of inspiration.

“Listen to this,”?? he said, displaying a mischievous smile, his hands moving hungrily on the keyboard.

As the Astros’ Garcia headed for the plate in Game 3, Kaminski barged in in a playful version of “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” ?? – the perfect musical accompaniment for a beginner right-hander whose prolonged wind-up has been compared to someone rocking a child.

“I found this on the spot”? ? Kaminski would explain later, providing a quick intro on his original process for crafting the melody of the songs at all times. “There are times when I play a song for the first time in front of 40,000 people. “

There are plenty of stars at this World Series, from Freddie Freeman to Jose Altuve, but let’s pay tribute to the 44-year-old, bespectacled jazz enthusiast sitting behind the Hammond SK2 organ in Truist Park.

He doesn’t have the ambition to be a star – “when someone gets into jazz, he doesn’t think about becoming famous” ?? – but Kaminski pulled off an impressive musical feat.

It gave freshness to the organ.

Kaminski’s eclectic tastes for music, and his witty selections when opposing players come to the plate, have made him a cult figure in the suburban Atlanta stadium.

Even the Braves players pay attention to the songs Kaminski plays for the other guys.

“I notice it”? ? said outfielder Adam Duvall. “This guy is unique.” ??

A dedicated group of social media followers eagerly awaits Kaminski to reveal his planned social media picks when a new team arrives in town, though all picks are subject to change.

Luis Garcia, for example, was originally supposed to get the song Dead written by Jerry Garcia “Casey Jones,” but that idea was scuttled in favor of the song all insomniac parents know by heart.

Guessing why Kaminski picks a song has become an in-game game, with everyone from over 22,000 Twitter (@bravesorganist) followers to visiting media weighing in on the player’s connection to the tune.

Given Kaminski’s vast repertoire – he has an MA in Music from Georgia State University and loves everything from the Beach Boys of the 1960s to timeless polka songs – it’s often a daunting task.

“I choose songs that I think work best on the instrument”? ? he explained. “Some songs don’t play very well on the organ.” ??

Kaminski can’t go too far in his catalog – the guessing game doesn’t really work if no one has ANY idea what it’s playing – but he clearly appreciates the puzzled looks when someone is trying to figure out why, say, he’s playing. plays the “M (asterisk) A (asterisk) SH”? ? theme for Astros slugger Carlos Correa.

“His name is Correa. What looks like Korea. ‘M (asterisk) A (asterisk) S (asterisk) H’ was based in Korea, ”Kaminski said.

He’s not afraid to press a few buttons either, although he’s always quick to point out that everything is fun.

When Altuve started Game 3, Kaminski regaled him with the rhyme, “I am a little teapot, small and sturdy.” ?? Altuve is one of the shortest baseball players at 5ft 6in.

“It’s just a children’s song” ?? Kaminski said. “For me, it’s not mean. It’s about having the edge on the pitch.

In fact, most visiting gamers seem to recognize that this is all fun.

Kaminski still remembers the reaction of now retired outfielder Jayson Werth, who grew his hair out and sported a huge Grizzly Adams beard.

Or, in Kaminski’s eyes and then in his ears, a more biblical figure.

“He looked a little like Jesus”? ? Kaminski called back. “So I played a lot of ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ for him. ?

Werth was clearly listening.

“He would tell Brian McCann (former Braves wide receiver) that he couldn’t believe I just played that song for him,” Kaminski said. “He wasn’t really complaining. He thought it was funny. “??

And now, a little musical quiz.

Here are some of the other songs Kaminski played for Houston players during the World Series. See if you can figure out the connection. (Answers will be provided later, we promise.)

– Michael Brantley. “Take him to the street.”

– Yordan Ãlvarez. “Jordan River. “??

– Kyle Tucker. ” You do not see ” ? ? and “Delta Dawn.” ??

– Yuli Gurriel. “Girl you will be a woman soon.” ??

– Martin Maldonado. “It’s Amore.” ??

– Another song by Correa: “Spain. “??

Bonus points for this one:

– Alex Bregman. “I am the walrus.” ??

Kaminski became organist for the Braves in 2009, landing the job thanks to a friend of a friend. He has now played in over 1,000 games, starting at Turner Field and moving with the team to Truist Park five seasons ago.

Living in suburban Atlanta with his wife, Kathleen, and their two daughters, Allison, 11, and Sarah, 8, he performs in town in various groups – though the pandemic has cut his show schedule – and gives private concerts courses.

“Anything that encompasses being a musician – teacher, performer, whatever – that’s me”? ? he said with a small laugh. “It’s only one thing.” ??

Originally from suburban Chicago, Kaminski moved south with his parents after initially enrolling at the University of Arizona. He always loved music and was drawn to keyboard instruments, learning to play the organ, piano and accordion.

His musical tastes are sprawling – jazz, classical, salsa, rock, polka, harmonies – but he concedes a glaring blind spot.

“Popular music of the last 10 years, maybe the last 20 years, is that where my musical knowledge is lacking”? ? he said.

This is where he turns to his wife and children for advice.

“They teach me about Dua Lipa and The Weeknd,” ?? Kaminski joked.

While the organ was once a staple in baseball stadiums and sporting venues, it has become increasingly consumable in a world of changing tastes. Only about half of the major league stadiums still employ an organist, the rest relying exclusively on background music and other shenanigans off the field.

Kaminski opposes those who call the organ old-fashioned.

“When I say I’m an organist, a lot of people think I’m just playing in a church,” ?? he said. “But I think the organ is so trendy. If you watch a rock band on TV, even country bands, there is always an organist in a lot of bands.

“It’s not in front of all the time,” ?? he added. “But you would be surprised. If you listen to the radio, listen very carefully, the organ is there often. Maybe I’m doing my little part to make it more popular in sports.

So, have you finished taking the quiz?

Here are the answers :

– Brantley. “Take him to the street”? ? was the title song from the Doobie Brothers debut album sung by Michael McDonald. He shares a first name with Brantley.

– Alvarez. “River of the Jordan” ?? was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, but Kaminski was inspired by his hilarious cameo in the epic movie comedy “Airplane!” ??

– Tucker. ” You do not see ” ? ? was a hit for The Marshall Tucker Band, while Tanya Tucker sang “Delta Dawn”.

– Gurriel. Kaminski went with “Girl, you will be a woman soon” ?? because of the similarity between the player’s name and the word “girl.” ??

– Maldonado. “It’s Amore” ?? was a Dean Martin classic. The last name is the player’s first name.

– Corréa. “Spain”?? was one of the best-known songs by jazz legend Chick Correa.

Now for the bonus song:

-Bregman. The lyrics to “I Am The Walrus” ?? include the line “I’m the egg man,” which rhymes (sort of) with Bregman.

“I feel like I have the opportunity to present this instrument to a wide variety of people”? ? Kaminski said. “I hope the exposure I get with the Braves leads to an interest in this genre and this instrument.” ??

Beat you !

The organ guy is ready with a song.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work on https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

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