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Sending musical 'Messages of Love'

Back in the day, Donny Roze spent years as a musician and performer in California clubs making music for people, many of them younger, to boogie.

These days, Roze makes music mainly for a more mature crowd as he brings the gift of song to residents of nursing homes and other facilities through his Heart and Hope Musical Ministries.

The Ashland-based Roze plans a fundraising concert called "Messages of Love" at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Congregational Church United Church of Christ, 717 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Performing will be the bands Donny Roze and Friends and the A-Town Infusion. Youth 4Peace, a group of Ashland High School singers, will open the show. Former Jefferson Public Radio host Jeff Golden will be master of ceremonies.

The show will benefit the nonprofit Heart and Hope organization and Jackson County Fuel, which provides home heating help to the needy.

A raffle will offer such prizes as a guitar, restaurant meals and a massage. People are asked to bring a can of food to donate.

Roze and Friends play Latin-flavored love songs featuring guitar and mandolin, drums, bass, accordion and recorder. Roze says A-Town Infusion plays a danceable, eclectic mix of world music and jazz.

"They're pretty hot," he says.

Roze, 60, says raising money through the event is secondary.

"The main thing I want is to increase awareness of the elders," he says. "Many of them in our community are worried about the rent. I'm talking about survival. We warehouse old people in this country."

He's referring to the nursing homes and foster homes and assisted living facilities where he performs for oldsters, sometimes playing two or three mini-concerts in the same day.

He performs for seniors for as little as $40, and sometimes for free. He believes even Alzheimer's patients feel the power of the music.

"We have people who are known only by their names on the doors," he says.

Roze often performs these days as a one-man band, tapping out time on a tambourine with his foot as he plays guitar, mandolin or piano for a small crowd. He's also known as an accomplished whistler.

He calls his original tunes "received music."

"I get this music," he says. "God's the player, I'm the instrument."

Tickets are $12 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Donny Roze performs for the elderly and people in need. - Bob Pennell