November 8, 2011 brought the devastating loss of The Circle Of Trust frontman, Thom Welte (55yrs), composer of all tracks and executive producer of "13 Short Stories", the band's CD officially released by The Barefoot Elves December 1, 2009. COT is soldiering into 2012 without their original commander-in chief. Billing themselves as "The World's Only Thom Welte Tribute Band ", they go on proudly performing material that was previously delivered in the voice of Welte on hundreds of nights in Florida cities ranging from Jacksonville to Tavernier, over to Sarasota, all over Fort Lauderdale, and on up to Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach, but most of the time in recent years, on Hollywood beach!
Pat Kregor plays drums and percussion, continuing on with Jeff Egan and Ken Gruneisen, founding members who joined with Welte forming the Fort Lauderdale-based acoustic rock fusion act known as the Circle Of Trust Trio, or "The Triangle of Trust". Formative performances of this all-stringed acoustic unit date back to Tuesday nights at the Tavern 213 in 2006, or perhaps earlier. Rare recordings captured the Welte, Egan, Gruneisen, Kregor acoustic lineup at a birthday party around that time.
Jeff uses the band as a perfect backdrop to burn through a non-stop assault of bee-bop jazz influenced guitar riffs. Ken Gruneisen still anchors the unit with a solid rhythmic foundation and a full, round tone on an Alvarez acoustic bass guitar.
Kregor performed with Welte in earlier bands over a span of nearly 20 years. He joined COT immediately before the band's performance at the 1st Annual "Giving Thanks" Concert for Kids In Distress 11/23/08, replacing original drummer/percussionist Dave McMeniman.
After a three year series of concerts at the Cinema Paradiso, the 4th Annual "Giving Thanks" Concert was relocated to Revolution Live. The November 29, 2011 performance served also as a special tribute to the recently departed Welte. The night featured The Circle Of Trust and additional friends on stage, with return performances by J. D. Danner Band and the Albert Castiglia Band. All proceeds from this annual event are donated to Kids in Distress. The reported total of $4,179.00 was a new record for the annual concert based on figures provided.
The Circle Of Trust attracts crowds of listeners regularly. Special friends are often invited into the "circle" as featured guests, expanding the dynamic power of this brilliant group of performers. When this happens, the turnout is often magical!
Jeff Egan's jazz trio plays each Sunday 11AM-3PM at Croissan'Time in Ft Laud.
Ken Gruneisen has been performing for more than 10 years with Box of Rocks and can occasionally be heard performing with professional musicians at various local open mic venues.