Blue Robot

The Earthtones Launch a Groovin’ Spring Semester

Posted by Alexandra Voigt on 01/21 at 04:33 PM

It’s 10:20pm on Saturday, January 15th, and there’s a hustle and bustle of movement going on inside Café 210. Thankfully it is not a suffocating, immobile mass of raging Go Go Gadget fans forming. Rather it’s a gathering of smiling faces composed of local old timers, couples both young and old, and amiable, rock-steady college students.

The diverse audience is patiently waiting for State College’s oldest reggae enthusiasts, The Earthtones, to finish setting up their equipment. They’re anticipating a night of dancing, shouting, and grooving to harmonious reggae classics. Rodney Thompson, commonly known as RT, is the face and singer of the band. He remains the only original Earthtones member since its formation in State College in 1989.

Within minutes, the tables and chairs once occupied by people are now buried in coats and scarves. Their owners are now stomping, swaying and singing to that Jamaican island sound reminiscent of a summer bonfire party on the beach. RT yells, “let me know how you’re feelin’ mon!” It’s followed by an array of consenting noises and luscious body movements. The crowd is certainly absorbing his intoxicating musical healing.

RT sings “Redemption Song” as a tribute to the legendary revolutionary Bob Marley, and of course to the iconic Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. The sea of people raise their arms in accord.

Following a couple of renowned Bob Marley covers like “Jammin’” and “Is this love?,” the band plays a party favorite: “Hot, hot, hot.” A soulful groove train erupts at the bar and grapevines its way miraculously to the dance floor. Dancers disperse from the line on each chanted “olay!” and bounce back into the crowd.

All of the band members were consistent in their efforts throughout the show. For the song, “Don’t bother me,” the drummer, Jordan Thompson, (RT’s son, believe it or not!), opened with a funky hi-hat combination sequence. Then the lead rhythm guitarist, Chris Younken, and bassist, Jason Ebersole, jumped in using reggaeton third beat riffs. Only measures later, the keyboardist, Roger Emes and (a depiction of Jamaica himself) tambourinist/percussionist, Kamau Diallo, completed the jam with spicy, shoulder-raising beats. It is surely a collaborative effort from all sides.

RT even demonstrated some reggae fusion by playing with elements of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. He displayed his style with wording like: “livin’ in a pastime paradise” and “livin in (for) a future paradise.”

The performance and turnout on Saturday night was so extravagant and moving (literally) that Café 210 immediately invited The Earthtones back for another show. However, the date conflicted with the band’s schedule.

But not to worry. The Earthtones enjoyed their time just as much as everyone else and will assuredly return to play downtown in the near future. As for upcoming shows, The Earthtones play at RumRunner’s Pub in Williamsport, Pa. on Saturday, January 29th.

On a side note, drummer Jordan Thompson’s second band, Royal Benson, plays every Thursday night at Bar Bleu and at RumRunner’s this Saturday, January 22nd.

{name} Author: Alexandra Voigt
Bio: [Alex] is currently a senior double majoring in Print Journalism and International Studies with a double minor in Music Technology and French. As random as all that may seem, Alex’s true passion lies within the art of music and the countless characteristics of rock and roll. Growing up to everything classic rock, she indulges in Led Zeppelin, The Doors, CCR, The Animals, Neil Young up through 90s grunge and today’s indie/folk rock and electro beats like: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Spoon, The Black Keys, TV on the Radio and Bassnectar!, (don’t turn away, that is only a taste of the list). Alex also loves using music programs like Logic Pro to mix, modulate and place different effects on songs, which is why electronic/techno and dubstep play an essential factor in her everyday life.


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