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The Music Scene Remembers Jimmy Rossi
December 17, 2010 - Jim Price
Area musicians from far and wide are expected to converge on Pellegrine’s in Altoona this Sunday evening, December 19, to remember a brother from the area music scene who helped build a brotherhood.
Jimmy Rossi passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Day of 2000. The Jimmy Rossi 10-Year Memorial Jam will celebrate his memory, while raising money and food donations for Altoona’s St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen. The music is expected to first start during halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers-New York Jets football game (approximately 5 p.m.), and resume once the game is completed (around 7 p.m.).
Along with his brother, Mark, Jimmy Rossi started a weekly Wednesday jam night during the late ‘80s at the historic U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg. The Rossi brothers and several of their musical friends soon became known as the U.S. Hotel House Band, and would anchor the weekly jams. As word spread about the special musical happenings, more musicians and music fans converged on the U.S. Hotel every Wednesday night. Soon, musicians from as far away as Pittsburgh, Lancaster and Baltimore were showing up to participate in the musical fun.
At the time, I was the night jock on WFBG-AM; and on Wednesdays when my duties finished at midnight, it was a quick five-minute drive from the station to Hollidaysburg on Route 36 to witness the week’s musical fireworks at the U.S. Hotel. The music was always top-notch, as the cream of the Altoona area music scene and beyond would show up to share their talents. And because the musical guests were different each week, no two shows were ever the same; each week provided special surprises, and more often than not, unforgettable memories.
Beyond the music, a brotherhood was forged. The musicians who frequently participated in the Wednesday jams became tighter as a community, and the fans who converged to witness the musical magic became part of that community as well.
Because of that special bond between musicians and fans, the magic didn’t end when new owners took over the U.S. Hotel in the mid-‘90s. The Wednesday night band dropped “Hotel” from their name, and the U.S. House Band continued on, performing regularly at Peter C’s and other Altoona area venues until Jimmy Rossi’s passing ten years ago.
Mark Rossi eventually started partnering with Tom Rhodes to form The House Band in early 2009, resuming the tradition and musical camaraderie first forged during those Wednesday jams at the U.S. Hotel.
The House Band will be hosting the Jimmy Rossi 10-Year Memorial Jam, and many musical guests are expected to take part. Expected participants include U.S. Hotel House Band alumni Pat McGinnis and Randy Rutherford, members of The Hurricanes, and numerous other musicians.
And perhaps in the U.S. Hotel House Band tradition, part of the suspense and magic will be seeing who shows up to plug in and play!
Jimmy Rossi, singing with the U.S. Hotel House Band on May 3, 1989.