Joe Tripp – A serious crooner

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Joe Tripp   “A serious crooner”

Joseph Edward Tripp was born in Michigan but his family moved to Dunedin, Florida where he grew up. He had a few piano lessons early in life and had always loved singing. He went to Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee during the late 80’s, when karaoke was becoming popular. One night at a club called Studebakers, during a karaoke contest, Joe belted out “Mack the Knife” and won the contest.

Joe also loved fishing and had heard the best fishing was in the Florida Keys. In 1991, he attended and graduated from the Police Academy. One day, while standing in a lunch line behind a couple of Marine Patrol Officers, he overheard them talking about the great fishing in the Keys. He spoke to his counselor and inquired about opportunities in the Keys.

Near the end of his academy training, he went to Key West on a break and interviewed for a job. He graduated from the academy, was hired and moved to Key West. Joe worked in Key West for eight years without any musical performing.

In 1999, Joe moved to the Tampa area where he worked building houses. While in Tampa, he started singing with Heralds of Harmony, a world class barbershop chorus. He really started to learn and enjoy singing old standards like Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and others.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, he was unemployed. In 2010, Joe returned to the Key West police department but with a heightened interested in singing and performing. Initially, he performed in non-profit and fundraising events and was quickly recognized as a serious crooner. Joe formed a 10-piece group called Key West Barber Shop Harmony. They performed at the annual Key West Musicians Festival in 2019.

Joe recently entered, and won, the eight-week extended Aqua Idol contest. This is a huge event created 14 years ago, patterned after the American Idol TV show, that was the brainchild of Lynda Frechette and then Aqua nightclub owner, Jill McDonald. It is an extensive competition with 12 contestants, each performing twice each show. It attracts some of the best vocalists in Key West who sing their hearts out and have raised over $330,000 for the Waterfront Playhouse over the years.

For eight weeks, Aqua Bar and Night Club on Duval Street is packed every Monday with the audience enjoying every kind of music genre from classical to country, pop to jazz standards, and Broadway to Buffet.  It’s an amazing event which includes exotic costumes and complex performances. It’s a very time consuming and a rewarding competitive event. Lynda says her biggest excitement is “that so many of the vocalists, that performed in Aqua Idol through the years, now have gigs around town and appear on the Waterfront stage.”

Tripp and wife/fellow vocalist, Destiny Montgomery, have produced three Christmas shows, called Christmas Rocks, at the Key West Theater — Larry Smith helped produce the last two shows. They take rock songs and turn them into Christmas tunes and vice versa. Zack Seemiller performs his Christmas music each year along with Bria Ansara, Andy Westcott, and Jeff Clark.

Joe has developed a voice over segment, telling the story of the birth of Christ, including songs like “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “Silent Night”, and “Mary, Did You Know?” at select times during the story. It was a big hit with audience.  We all look forward to a fourth great Christmas show this year.

Joe has had some recent issues with his voice. It’s difficult to sing higher notes and extensive long sets of songs. He has had exams and diagnoses but so far, the conclusion is that he basically needs more hydration and continued voice therapy.

Tripp keeps his professional career as one of “Key West’s finest” (police officer) very separate from his musical performances, which for the most part are fundraisers in support of various charity and non-profit organizations. He has given the community a unique and very positive view of Key West police officers. Many people that have normally been hesitant to approach a police officer respond very easily to the golden crooner voice of Joe Tripp. It’s a very cool Key West approach to community policing. I half-jokingly asked if there were other vocalists in the officer corps that could help revive his now famous Barbershop Harmony Chorus.

Joe Tripp will be performing on March 31 at the Waterfront Playhouse in “Trunk Material 5”. It will be his first experience at this great theater.




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