Duke Tumatoe has his teaching moments


Duke Tumatoe has never stopped performing.

Tumatoe and the Power Trio still perform approximately 75 shows a year, mostly across the Midwest. He also performs on radio shows. He has been a regular contributor on “The Bob & Tom Show” since the 1980s.

But in the last 20 years, Tumatoe returned to teaching to share with others his guitar skills by giving lessons in his Carmel home.

“I’ve made a lot of good friendships doing it, and it’s been fun because I’ve been able to provide for people that have played before a better understanding of what is going on,” Tumatoe said. 

Tumatoe said one pupil’s adult daughter bought lessons for her dad.

“He started from scratch, and he’s come along,” Tumatoe said. “He’s able to play ‘Happy Birthday’ and a couple of songs. It’s very exciting for him. To go home and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife was quite a thrill for both of them. It’s fun to watch people get something out of the lessons.”

Tumatoe said some people are able to renew an activity they had years ago but had gotten away from.

“They are able to come back, and I am able to give them a focus on how music really works,” Tumatoe said. “It’s been rewarding to me on a personal level, and it’s exposed me to some different types of songs that I would not have been drawn to otherwise.”

Tumatoe said he limits his number of students to 20.

“I still write a lot for commercial and personal songs,” he said. “I still need time to sit down with the guitar and not feel like it’s a workday. As I’ve gotten older, I realize it’s also necessary for me to practice diligently basic things to make sure I keep command of my hands and my mind focused.”

Tumatoe, whose given name is Bill Florio, was one of the early members of REO Speedwagon, playing guitar from 1967-69, but departed because he realized his passion was playing the blues. Tumatoe and the All-Star Frogs started playing in 1969. The group disbanded in 1983, after which he started the Power Trio. 

“The keyboard player, James Hill, (and me) have played together off and on since 1966,” Tumatoe said. “It’s a group of guys that have worked together for a good period of time.”

John Fogerty, of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame, produced Tumatoe’s live album called “I Like My Job” in 1989.

Through the years, Tumatoe became known for his numerous renditions of “Lord Help Our Colts,” which started on “The Bob & Tom Show.”

Tumatoe started playing drums when he was 10 years old and began playing guitar when he was 15.

Tumatoe moved to Westfield from Champaign, Ill., in 1980. Then in 1987, he moved to Carmel. His wife, Mary Anne, had spent her teenage years in Carmel.

“I’ve been very blessed in my life. God has had a plan for me,” Tumatoe said. “It’s been very wonderful. (Performing) is what I’m supposed to do. It’s really the only thing I do well.”

For more, visit duketumatoe.com.