~ Eye on SC ~
      Hear It Live

By David Small
San Clemente Times


Gratitude is an assembly of five veteran songwriters with decades of experience in jazz, rock, reggae, blues and world music. “We run the gamut on styles,” says frontman Roby LaPorte, an enthusiastic San Clemente local with a thick mustache and long gray hair. “My roots are classic rock,” says LaPorte. “I’ve done a lot of solo [work] my whole life and a lot of bands, but Gratitude is far and away the best I’ve ever been with.” In the ’90s, LaPorte was the sound engineer at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano and continues to produce music in his home studio.

Bass player Calvin Hardy has backed legends like Tina Turner, Etta James and Jackson Browne, among others. Bernie Wolfe brings his roots in jazz and rhythm and blues on drums and percussion. Together with the worldly influence of Kurt Baker’s guitar and Mike Cook on flute, Gratitude has a truly unique multi-genre sound. “I’d say we’re an easy listening jazz instrumental, storytelling melodic rock band with a twist of reggae and beach rock,” says Cook.

The band formed in 2002 with a single goal: to make great music and have fun doing it. “We decided this was going to be an umbrella for our creativity,” says LaPorte. “All of us are just dedicated to the craft of making great music. Everybody is honored to play with everybody else.”

The band is also honored to live in San Clemente and makes regular appearances at promotional events for local organizations like Save Trestles, the Watershed Task Force and the Downtown Business Association. “In four years, we’ve had one indoor gig,” says LaPorte.

The band plays at Café Calypso on the first Sunday of each month during the Village Art Fair and the last Thursday of the month during the Village Art Walk. They are also available for special occasions. Gratitude’s second album, recorded in LaPorte’s home studio, will be ready early 2007. Their music is available at www.thetude.com.