Roy Wiegand’s career has crossed nearly four decades—and of late, many finish lines. For the last eight years, the Los Angeles-based trumpeter turned ultra-runner has taken on solo challenges in support of local and global charities.
Wiegand of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) first collaborated with Lifewater International, a nonprofit organization that builds wells for remote villages in East Africa and Southeast Asia. In an ultra-marathon in 2013, in which he ran 250 miles over a week, he received a hero’s welcome after finishing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Stopping at a couple of elementary schools along the way, he says, “I had a bottle of brown water from a village in Ethiopia to show people. Those kids sold cookies and brownies for a month before the run to raise money for other kids in Ethiopia.” He raised $25,000 over four years. “The disease rate had dropped 93%. Now, they can actually wash their hands.” According to Wiegand, “Between digging and maintaining the well it costs $40, which provides a lifetime of clean water per person.”
In June, for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation—a local organization for families with children fighting cancer—Wiegand ran the equivalent of four marathons in 24 hours (approximately 105 miles). He’s raised $40,000 for the organization. Roy’s Run for Christopher, now in its fifth year, is named for the 12-year-old friend of his son who died of a rare cancer.
Though Wiegand started running late in life, in his 40s, he says being a brass player pays off. “I’ve got lung capacity—and can run long distances without getting tired,” adding that it’s his colleagues who are all heart. The LA music community and the union serve him well on the trail. “Many musicians donate financially or with their music, or coming out and bicycling beside me.” During the grueling 24-hour runs, whether it’s encouragement on the sidelines, supplying water, or a place to sit down, Wiegand is grateful for the support of his Local 47 friends. “It’s definitely not a one-man show. When you’re running through the dead of night, it’s good to have company.” One year, he says, there was a brass quintet to usher him over the finish line.
A few years back, the night before the LA marathon, he had a gig that went overtime. “I dropped off my trumpet and tux at the finish, ran the marathon—and actually, did my best time—took a nap, put on my tux, and played the next gig.” Laughing he says, “It’s typical of a freelance player who’s always trying to shoehorn in work or running wherever they can.”
Live club dates are his mainstay, but in his spare time Wiegand is a private music instructor who also coaches a high school jazz band. “Sometimes, it’s hard for parents to wrap their heads around music or the performing arts as a major and a potential career. It’s a leap of faith,” he says.
It was not much of a stretch for Wiegand whose father, Roy Wiegand, Jr., of Local 47, is a trombonist who played around the country in Stan Kenton’s and Woody Herman’s orchestras. The family moved around a bit, with stops in New York City, Miami, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. Wiegand showed prodigious talent at age seven and was naturally drawn to brass. He says his dad’s only seeming objection to his career choice was, “The trumpet, not the trombone?”
Wiegand moved to Los Angeles after high school and attended Los Angeles City College. After a year, though, he started getting calls to go out on the road. “Being paid to play was too strong a lure,” he says. “Plus, years ago, there was a lot of work out there.” He’s a versatile session musician, who plays jazz, classical, klezmer, bebop, mariachi, Dixieland, even salsa. He is also principal trumpet for the Desert Symphony in Palm Springs, California.
In 1997, a unique opportunity came up. After a symphony performance, he heard that The Who needed brass players for a revival of their 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia. “A guitarist whose wife was a bassoonist in an orchestra I played with got the call for brass players. She happened to be near the phone and said, ‘Give them Roy’s number.’” Wiegand says. That call led to a year-long tour that took him around the US and throughout Europe.
This past September, 20 years to the day, he played again with The Who at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. “It was a reunion of sorts,” says Wiegand, who was joined on stage by his wife, Angela Wiegand, a Local 47 member and flutist for the Los Angeles Opera.
One of Wiegand’s regular gigs these days is performing with the band, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, a longtime LA rock and soul band. In between concerts, he is planning his next charity initiative, collaborating with Shelter to Soldier, a nonprofit that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for combat veterans dealing with PTSD and other challenges. Their mission is: “Saving lives, two at a time.”
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