Musician Russ Trimnal grew up on a ranch in South Dakota near Badlands National Park, and when he first started playing music, he was playing for the cows.
He said wrote his first song when he was 8.
Since then, Trimnal has played guitars, fixed guitars and made guitars. His latest is called the Screamin’ Meow.
The 52-year-old has traveled across the country opening for bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.
Now, he lives in Interlachen, home to about 1,300 people, and on Saturday he opened a music shop: Lazy J’s Badaax Music Store. Lazy J is his stage name.
The music store is the only one in town, and it’s in an existing store called Robin’s Nest that sells everything from bullets to tea pots.
He does sales, trades, repairs, lessons and more. He said the bulk of his business comes from custom orders and repairs.
“Unless you just took it down and beat it with a hammer, I can pretty much fix it,” said Trimnal, who has been repairing instruments for about two decades.
Once, he worked on the guitar of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s bass player. Trimnal still has the bass’s machine heads, which are used to adjust the strings and tune the guitar.
Trimnal said he’s been busy for weeks — even before the shop officially opened. People brought guitars back to him that he had worked on before, and customers bought the instruments that were already in stock.
On opening day, he sold several instruments, including a mandolin. He also said he sells picks, strings, tuners reeds and parts, and there’s nothing he can’t order.
When he repairs things, he said he likes to put himself in the other person’s position.
“I don’t want to give it to you unless I would get on stage and play it myself,” Trimnal said.
Ruth Veams, a 71-year-old Interlachen resident, had Trimnal clean and put new strings on her upright bass. She said he’s very talented in his field.
“It’s amazing how different it sounds compared to what it did,” Veams said.
She plays her strings alongside Trimnal’s guitar Monday nights at the American Legion in a community jam session.
When Trimnal is the one on stage, he plays guitar with Lazy J and the O.C. Freedom Band, which started in the early 1990’s after he left his job as a guitarist traveling the nation with Mid-South Entertainment and moved to Jacksonville.
He said the band believes in freedom, freedom of speech and freedom in music. The O.C. stands for “our choice.”
Trimnal said the band plays a little bit of everything: old, new, rock from the 1950’s to the 2000’s and blues. He said the whole purpose of the band is acceptance.
To this day, Trimnal doesn’t read music.
“Everything I play is by feel and by ear,” he said.