Patrons at the Suncoast got a treat July 10 — young talent in the form of brothers Diego and Santiago LaRochelle.
Summerlin residents Diego, 15, and Santiago, 13, performed in producer Ed Mathews’ weekly production, the “Suncoast Variety Show.” The show is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursdays for B Connected Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald card members.
“I like to give young talent a (platform) to perform,” Mathews said.
The brothers were two of the young people featured. They are making their mark on the community as entertainers.
Diego will be a sophomore this fall at Las Vegas Academy, where he maintains a 4.0 GPA. He sings and plays piano and drums. He said he likes classical jazz, such as Dave Brubeck.
Santiago is a vocalist, pianist and guitarist and also plays the harmonica, affectionately called a “blues harp” by those in the industry. He said he likes 1960s and ’70s music, such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan. He attends St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School.
They have played numerous venues, including the Hard Rock Cafe, the E-String in Henderson, John Cutter Grill & Tavern in Summerlin and a number of private functions. For the last two years, they have donated their time and talent to Colossal Canine Care’s canine rescue fundraiser.
“We found out about them and had them over (to hear them play),” said Marcus Martin, a band member of The Loco-Motives. “They came loaded. They have so many gifts, it’s amazing. All you end up doing is pointing them in a direction, and they’re gone. Last night, I was discussing 12-bar blues with Santiago, and when you’re talking to a kid, you’re not really sure they’re following you, paying attention. He was strumming the guitar like his mind was somewhere else. And then, a couple hours later, I’m listening to him, and he’s doing exactly what I was just talking about.”
He called Diego a nearly concert-level pianist. Martin suggested they were at the point where an agent should pick them up.
“Call me crazy, but I see them at an arena one day,” Martin said.
Backstage at the Suncoast, the boys displayed no nervousness.
“I’ve done it before,” said Diego, adding that his jazz performances at school saw as many as 200 in the audience. “So, this is just a couple more people.”
He said he liked the piano because it “can imitate just about every other instrument, bass, you do a full orchestra,” he said.
Diego said he’d like to be a professional jazz musician.
“Even if I chose another career path, I’ll probably always be a musician, playing at places on the weekends,” he said. “So, that will always be part of me.”
“I like the classic rock and the old genres,” Santiago said. “It’s just better music, and you have to be a better musician all around to make good music.”
He said family road trips always had classic rock CDs playing.
“Elvis was our role model when we were in kindergarten,” Santiago said.
For the afternoon show at the Suncoast, the boys each performed two songs. Diego showed his jazz leanings with “C-Jam Blues” and followed it by “Autumn Leaves.” His talent was not lost on the audience, which caught a collective breath when he began the second song.
Then the brothers combined forces to do “Guantamero,” with Diego on the bongo drums and Santiago on guitar.
Santiago’s choices were Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” which required he use a hangman’s noose — an apparatus that allows one to play the harmonica hands-free. That was followed by Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” for which he affected a more gravelly voice.
Their sister, Rosa, 7, is also musically inclined and takes piano lessons with Marsha Williams. That’s how the brothers began, with piano lessons from Williams when each was about about kindergarten age.
About two years ago, Santiago started singing, and some adult bands asked him to perform with them.
“I kind of bucked it for a while,” said their father, Jim LaRochelle. “Just the thought of him playing in … that atmosphere. But I finally showed up with him, and it was such a neat setting. One song turned into a two-hour jam session, and they asked him and his brother to do a guest appearance. … That went off well, and they’ve been at it ever since. I guess I’m nervous still. You know how much hard work goes into it, and you imagine yourself at that time in your life, and you know what a big deal it can be. But they handle it with confidence.”
For more information about the brothers, visit their Facebook page at tinyurl.com/oxfroyf.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.