Iconic co-founder of The Doors Ray Manzarek and master slide guitarist Roy Rogers are bringing their hard-driving blues-rock project to Grass Valley with a Center for the Arts performance Saturday.
Performing at The Center has become an annual gig for Rogers, who moved to Nevada County about four years ago. He last performed at the venue with his band, the Delta Rhythm Kings, and is “delighted” to return with Manzarek.
“The live show is something to see,” Rogers said.
Rogers and Manzarek have released two recordings together — the instrumental “Ballads Before the Rain,” a duet on guitar and grand piano, followed by the band recording, “Translucent Blues,” which reached number one on the Americana Roots charts and debuted No. 6 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
“It kind of throws a lot of people for a loop, but it works. It works musically. We’ve explored a lot of territory,” Rogers said. “Translucent Blues” is a blues-rock collection of songs with powerful grooves, strong hooks and lyrics tinged with poetry and literary references. Most of the songs are collaborative, some featuring lyrical contributions from co-writers as diverse as Warren Zevon, Jim Carroll and poet Michael McClure.
“That’s what we’re touring behind, that’s what you’ll see here,” Rogers said.
A third recording, “Twisted Tales,” will be released this spring.
Rogers adds, “The music is quite unique — a completely original sound. The collaboration is really pumping on this third release.”
The band will be featured on a PBS special that is in the works, and there is a documentary film in production on their collaboration process by New York filmmaker Billy Smith. The film is scheduled for release in 2013 to film festivals.
Manzarek and Rogers met seven to eight years ago through a booking agent when they were both performing solo acts in the Bay Area.
“It was one of those copasetic things that just clicked,” Rogers said.
Manzarek has been inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He still performs with guitarist Robbie Krieger, and together, they have continued an odyssey of The Doors music — in addition to new collaborations of their own.
For three decades, Rogers has toured with his band, The Delta Rhythm Kings, around the world. His recordings showcase his masterful slide techniques and love of diverse influences. He is an eight-time Grammy Award nominee as songwriter, producer and performer. In the 1980s, Rogers performed with the late John Lee Hooker and produced four of his recordings.
Though Rogers and Manzarek didn’t know each other “in the days,” — Rogers was a young “blues fanatic” when Chicago-born Manzarek was heavily involved in the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll scene — the unlikely pair have become great friends, Rogers said.
Their touring record is a melding of influences. Greats like Little Richard, Louis Jordan, Chuck Berry and Robert Johnson have all left their mark on the music Rogers and Manzarek create together.
“Musically, it’s a very interesting musical kinship,” Rogers said.
Featured musicians on ‘Translucent Blues” are Kevin Hayes, drums, formerly with the Robert Cray band; Steve Evans, bass, with the Elvin Bishop Band, and George Brooks, tenor saxophone, who has performed with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain.
For Rogers, there’s nothing better than playing live for an audience that’s “smoking.” The Center for the Arts show on November 10 is an opportunity for local audiences to see the Manzarek-Rogers Band “cooking” on stage in a way that no recording can capture.
“Live performances will always win the day,” Rogers said.