Living Life in Tune

Oct. 3, 2011

Tom Rhodes is a long-time member of the University of Arizona community. He received his bachelor's degree in 1990 and his master's degree in 1992, both from the UA in the fields of agriculture and resource economics. By day, he serves as Research Specialist Principal for the UA Graduate College, working to ensure that the college’s programs maintain high levels of excellence. He rides his bike to and from work for a total of eight miles a day, which he describes as the perfect commute. 

“It gives me time to relax and think about the day,” he muses, “And at the end of my day it’s a great break between the university and coming home.”

In contrast to his quiet days, he kicks it up at night with his band, the Last Call Girls, self-described on their website as “Tucson’s rockabilly, squawkabilly and hillbilly dance band.”

“They are some of the best musicians in Tucson,” Rhodes says. “In the band, everyone gets a long, everyone contributes.”

As an undergraduate, he paid his way through school playing music. As a graduate student, he played three or four nights a week and worked his way through school.

Rhodes learned to make music the way countless traditional players have done: from his parents.

“I started learning with my parents and imitated what they did,” he says. “I came from a musical family. My mother was a singer, songwriter and dancer, and my father was a guitar and fiddle player and honky tonk musician.”

Today, with the Last Call Girls, Rhodes plays traditional stringed instruments, focusing on violin, guitar and mandolin.

“My mother and father never had to bug us about practicing,” he remembers. “They had to bug us about go to bed and stop staying up and playing late.”

While the nights are filled with music, Rhodes loves what he does during the day as well.

“It’s very different than playing music. It uses different parts of the brain,” he says. “When I was a full-time musician, I didn’t enjoy the music as much.”

As for living a life in tune, Rhodes has struck just the right balance, playing hard with his music, and working hard at a career that he truly loves.

“I love Arizona and I love this part of the country,” he says. “Nothing is more important to our future than the education of our children, and to play a role in that at the flagship university in the state, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

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