PIT Member Strikes the Right Chord
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Pictured left to right: Gregg Campayno, Jared Tuk, Alan Gilman and Justin Hinerman
There's only so much time a controller can spend in a tower, which is why Pittsburgh Tower (PIT) air traffic controller Gregg Campayno is able to pursue his passion for playing and teaching music, the guitar being his instrument of choice.
Campayno doesn't just own one guitar, he owns 11; three electrics, six acoustics and two classicals, and he uses them. All of them. Not only does he play in a band of four, Radio Cargo, but he also teaches guitar and directs the Ensemble, a group of young, already talented musicians who gather together and play collaboratively at his local church.
Simply put, Campayno is one busy guy. It all started at age 19 while he served in the Navy. Set to deploy overseas on the USS America, he discovered that many of the Navy controllers played guitar. What's a guy to do when he wants to get himself a guitar and learn to play? He begs his brother to lend him his guitar of course, and there was no going back after that.
After the Navy, Campayno attended college and began performing his own gigs. In 2006 he helped form Moonshine, a rock and roll cover band that ultimately went country.
"Those guys taught me a lot about playing live," said Campayno. "Although it was fun for while, after five years I was ready to move on."
About a year ago, Campayno wanted to play more upbeat music, particularly covers from the past 30 years with a concentration on music from the 80s. He got his buddy, Jared Tuk (guitarist), to gather two musicians to join in a band of four. Justin Hinerman (drummer) and Alan Gilman (bass) who also played in a successful metal band, Crayon Death, joined shortly after. Together, the four members became Radio Cargo.
"We hit it off instantly," said Campayno. "I'm lucky to be surrounded by such talented musicians."
Radio Cargo had their second performance at a PIT Reloaded Solidarity event a few weeks ago, and they're already booked throughout the rest of the year playing shows at various locations such as private parties and live bars.
Radio Cargo performing at PIT Reloaded event.
"[At the PIT Reloaded Solidarity event] the big hit song was 'Aeroplane' by Red Hot Chili Peppers," said Campayno. "Everybody just went crazy for that song. It was a little edgy, we had only played it twice before. But with that particular crowd, it was a five-star song. The 80s stuff went over very well too."
But, what is Campayno to do when he's not practicing and performing with his band? He teaches aspiring young guitarist how to play the guitar out of his home. Campayno said it was 10 years ago he felt comfortable enough with his music background and his ability to be able to instruct, that he took up teaching lessons.
"There are so many kids who want to learn," said Campayno. "I find it very empowering. Performing is different than teaching. Both make you better in different ways. And I find teaching how to become a controller and how to become a guitarist very similar. You're dealing with somebody who's extremely motivated to succeed in both circumstances, there's a great deal of time and it's a long, complicated process. It's all hands-on."
After all that, Campayno still manages to make time for his church. However this time, there's no teaching involved. He gathers young musicians who already have a knack for playing instruments and performing to play together every week in what they call, The Ensemble.
It is clear that Campayno has a lot of passions in life, and he feels lucky that his work in air traffic control allows him to have the time for those passions.
"The great thing about our job is when we leave work, we're done -- There's nothing for us to take home at the end of the day," said Campayno. "You could go nuts if you didn't have certain pursuits."
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