Last fall, Doug Brown and I traveled to Trumbull Correctional Institution, a mid-security state prison in eastern Ohio. We arrived shortly after dawn, and prison officials welcomed us into a small recreation room for a private rock ‘n’ roll show.
The story glides across the personal tales of more than a dozen state inmates, all of whom had worked hard to be allowed to play musical instruments and form bands. “Live from Trumbull Correctional” is the story of two bands – DryveTrayne and Supa Dupa Productions.
My quick takeaway is that more state facilities should be investing in programs like this. Because the inmates actually own the instruments, the cost to the state isn’t a tremendous burden.
The sorrowful blues of B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” isn’t lost on anyone in the room as Vincent works his blue Fender Telecaster into a frenzy. Vincent’s known as “Starter” to the other guys around here, and not just for his virtuosity on the guitar. He’s also a sound engineer and music theory teacher and he’s been doing this since it all started.
“You gotta be out of trouble for so long before you can be here,” he says.
Vincent is talking about the Music With A Purpose program at Trumbull Correctional Institution, because Vincent is locked up here and he’s not leaving anytime soon. With nearly a decade to go before he gets a shot at parole, Vincent joins dozens of other inmates here in pursuit of music. And rock ‘n’ roll. And freedom of some limited, creative sort.
“This is the goal,” he says. “This is the ultimate goal, to be able to come out here and play.”