Costume ball set for tonight in Smartsville |

Costume ball set for tonight in Smartsville

A Mardi Gras Valentine’s Day Costume Ball tonight will kick off what is expected to be many events at the new River Highlands Ranch and Vineyard in Smartsville.

This new venue 20 minutes west of Grass Valley will host performances by eight-time Grammy nominee Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, plus world-renowned violinist and harpist Carlos Reyes.

Rogers and Reyes met about 25 years ago and have performed together many times.

Rogers is considered one of the finest slide guitarists performing today.

“He’s a monster virtuoso” said Reyes. “He has so much heart and depth in what he plays. Its beauty creates happiness and a power of peace. That’s where I like to come from too, so I really love that connection.”

Rogers’ early influences “go back to the blues guys.” Being a “kid of the 60s,” Rogers went to the Fillmore and the Avalon in San Francisco, where he saw greats such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, “who influenced a lot of guys like me and other people who played not only blues, but rock and roll.

“But I’m not a real purist about what I play,” Rogers said. “Influences come from many directions. It’s wonderful to do combo … and see how music can go together, because then it’s something new.”

Child prodigy

Reyes is a classically-trained multi-instrumentalist.

“He’s a stunning musician,” said Rogers. Reyes’ forte is the violin and the Paraguayan harp, which is “an amazing instrument,” Rogers said. “He’s just a magnificent musician. It’s going to be a very special night.”

Reyes began his musical education at age 3 1/2 in Paraguay, with his first performance at 5.

“I’ve traveled the world, and I love ethnic music,” Reyes said. “It tells you a lot about people … their culture … their heart.”

Recently, Reyes was invited to play and record in Havana, Cuba, with the great flautist El Tosco, who named Reyes “El Monstro Musical” (the musical monster.)

A recording artist and producer, Reyes is also an advocate for children and education.

After performing at the Worlds Fair in Germany, Reyes was invited to Italy, where he received a medal from the Vatican.

He is humble about the award.

“The Pope gave me a medal … just for my contribution to the world of thought … of positiveness and kids,” Reyes said. “It was very special. I felt very honored.”

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