Rothe brings rhythms to La Verne

by Lori Cruz
Staff Writer

Alumnus and part-time faculty member Jon Rothe will be performing an evening of original works with his band on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Founders’ Auditorium.

“An Evening with Jon Rothe and Friends” will feature musical sounds ranging from reggae to rhythm and blues to jazz. Admission is free.

Rothe promises that “there really will be something for everybody” with the music. He said, “about one-third of the concert will be instrumental and the rest will be lyrical.”

His band consists of ULV faculty members Andrew Ford on bass, Chet Smith on bass and trumpet and, on drums, Bobby Dominguez. Dr. Reed Gratz, professor of music, will play the keyboards.

Rothe’s 13-year-old son Aaron will join his father on stage by playing the accordion in one song and the fiddle in a country song.

Other “friends” who will be supporting Rothe are Tony Sandell on drums, Steven Biondo on steel pan, which is a Caribbean calypso drum, Mark Norris and Jeff Jorgensen on saxophone and trombonists Greg Samuel and George Harrell. K.O. Skinsnees is on trumpet and his back up vocalists include Lisa Duncanson, Michael Harris and Cindie Jones.

Some of his band members are professional musicians and others play with Rothe at coffee shops, including Lordsburg Coffee Roasters. Ford is fresh off the road from a tour with Al Jarreau and Harris is a gospel singer.

Rothe, who sings and plays guitar and keyboards, graduated from the University of La Verne in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in music. He returned to the University to complete a master’s in education in 1988. His full-time job is as a resource specialist with the Mt. Baldy School District. At ULV, he teaches music and elementary education.

The class “teaches teachers how to use music in their classrooms as part of their curriculum,” he said.

Rothe got his start in music while listening to the Beatles and movie soundtracks back in Ohio.

“That gave me a soundtrack sensibility with a pop attitude,” Rothe said of his background likes.

Rothe said the concert will be the largest thing he has done since doing his four-movement symphony, which was his senior project 16 years ago.

“It’s taken a lot of work (to get all the members together) and depending on the recording, we could release a CD,” Rothe said.

“It’s not a hodgepodge, but there really is something for everybody,” he added. “A lot of groups have one style and they play that one style, like jazz or calypso, where although we have a fully realized composition, we have a different style. We’ll be playing a reggae song and the next song will be completely different.”

The concert will start with a solo acoustic guitar piece performed by Rothe and will end with all the musicians on stage.

He added that “everyone will get involved with the last song.”

Lori Cruz
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