The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020, March 07, 2020, Page 7, Image 7

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Weekend of March 7-8, 2020   A7
in the company of excellence
in which The Dalles became one of the top five contestants.
“It was a great experience to be in the video and we
were showing the musical magic that happens when you
pick up and play a Ho’okipa ukulele,” Wright said.
Wright’s combination of experience and personal musical skills, jazz
guitar particularly, has made the transition into Gorge living an easy
and welcoming time for him and his wife, Ati, a musician and singer.
“I knew we needed that sense of connection, of community, and I knew
we could find players here. I met hundreds of people from town that I
would never have met had I not been at the music store, and finding a
commonality of our love of music is a wonderful thing,” Wright said.
In fact, what started off as informal weekly music jams hosted
at the couple’s house has turned into a working jazz band.
“We would get ten people over every Saturday, and once we found
out what worked best that kind of turned into just a handful of folks that
showed up. We play as a four piece band now; we’re into jazz standards,
and of course we love the Django Reinhart style, you know, all of those
chords with little squiggles and numbers after the letter,” Wright said.
So far the group, named Rossco Ati Jazz, has been spotted at the Last Stop
Saloon and contributing to events held at the Oregon Veterans Home.
“Our love of music has been a wonderful thing for us, it’s really gotten
us into this community and we feel that’s a big factor in belonging.
I’ve met a lot of people and that just branches
out into the community,” Wright said.
Those branches have even reached out into the political
spectrum. Wright noted that Greg Walden, the current U.S.
Representative for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, recently
stopped into the store to buy a Ho’okipa ukulele for his wife.
“The store owner recognized him right away, and it was
a higher priced model instrument,” Wright said.
According to Wright, music has been in his life—for his entire life.
His mother told him that she would sit in front of the piano and play
classical music when she was carrying him in the womb. 14 years later,
he was transfixed by The Beatles, and his favorite band, The Ventures.
“My first job was in a music store, and I wanted to be trained
as a repairman. I saw what they had to do in the back room to
fix things, and said to myself, ‘I can do that,’” Wright said.
Now retired from the repair business, which included “thousands and
thousands of guitars,” Wright says he enjoyed 25 years owning a shop
in Eugene, with a staff of ten employees. That experience gave him the
skills to work on all brands, whether American made or overseas.
“I’ve actually always had a lot of respect for some of the musical
instruments that came from overseas, a lot of the different cultures
have great work ethic and they pay a lot of attention to detail. Their
craftsmanship goes back thousands of years,” Wright said.
Wright currently maintains ties to other instrument building
pursuits through his website, including a
specialty trademark jazz guitar that he manufactures and builds.
And Wright hopes his contributions to Ho’okipa will continue to
inspire a new generation, or even an existing older
generation, to play music, and have fun.
“It’s so easy for kids to pick up the ukulele and just play music.
They’re kind of attractive to kids, and they withstand the rigors
that kids can put them through. I’ve also seen folks here at 85
years old, come into the music store and take music lessons
with them. It’s really a universal instrument,” Wright said.
Rossco Wright and luthier Wendy Schaefer at top, check the fretboard setup of an Ho’okipa ukulele.
Below, Ukuleles hang in his shop at Gorge Community Music, in The Dalles.
Jim Drake photos
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