Master of slide guitar wants to move you with his music
(audio slideshow included)
“Rogers is an exceptionally articulate slide guitarist, either he’s scorching Robert Johnson’s ‘Ramblin’ Blues’ or taking a lovely, lyrical journey or rockin’ it out. One of the rare guitar heroes who values feeling over flash.” ~ Rolling Stone
To view the slideshow, click here:
A master lives among us. Roy Rogers, a slide guitarist who electrifies audiences with his special brand of blues influenced by the likes of such Delta legends as Robert Johnson, recently moved from the Bay Area to Nevada City. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get many chances to hear him play here. Because he’s quite a travelin’ man (Australia is next on his tour list), Rogers plays only one show a year in Grass Valley, and that show is Saturday at The Center for the Arts.
By all measures, Rogers is one of the best. In the 27 years he’s been playing professionally, he’s been nominated for eight Grammys as producer and performer and has received three nominations for best guitar instrumentalist by the Blues Foundation (The Blues Music Award). He’s also played with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Sammy Hagar and Jason Newsted and collaborated with such greats as Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal in recording the Grammy nominated movie soundtrack, “The Hot Spot.” (“Lots of folks come up to me,” says Rogers, “to tell me it’s their favorite sound track.”)
In a recent interview at his home, Rogers talked about how he developed his distinctive style, his philosophy of music, the influences in his life and what the Dec. 8 show will be like.
“I don’t consider myself a straight ahead blues player,” he says ” … like I love Miles Davis. Influences come from a lot of different places. (But) I’ve developed a style that I’m known for. I play open tuning, open chord, Delta blues out of Mississippi.”
Whatever you call it, it packs a wallop, an emotional high. Bringing this out in people is important to Rogers, who says he’d like to be known by the epitaph: “He knew how to have fun and he moved people.”
Once a young rock ‘n’ roller, influenced by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, he tells of that pivotal moment when he heard the recording of a 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, “Spirituals to Swing,” which included everything from jazz and boogie woogie to gospel. While Robert Johnson, a man Rogers calls “a kingpin of Delta blues,” was already dead, his influence on the music at that concert was huge, and Rogers was hooked.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” he says. “Slide guitar became a voice I wanted to pursue.”
When asked what his show will be like at The Center for the Arts, Rogers says it will be in trio format (“A rockin’ band, great for improvisation”), and they’ll definitely be doing tracks from his latest release, his ninth solo album, “the best of 2” (reviewed in the Nov. 29 Prospector. I hope he plays “Spent Money,” a favorite of mine). It won’t be laid back, that’s for sure. “We like to rock,” he says with a sly grin.
Future endeavors include a duet – piano and guitar – release with Ray Manzarek (from The Doors) titled “Ballads Before The Rain” and an oral history recording with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, a man in his 70s. Rogers calls Elliott a cultural icon, “a link between Woodie Guthrie (with whom he toured) and Bob Dylan – a giant in American folk music.”
Interviewing Rogers was a pleasure. He’s articulate, puts one at ease and is a regular guy. Paying tribute to Gaynell, his wife of 24 years, he says she’s not only a partner in marriage but also in the music business, helping with promotions and “keeping me pointed in the right direction.” Two grown children who live away and a dog and a cat complete the family. The couple is happy to be here, citing good neighbors, being close to nature and a serene place to come home to after being on the road as big pluses.
He is also accommodating. When I asked to see his Terraplane, a car built by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit between 1932 and 1939 – ever heard the “Terraplane Blues”? Rogers says he’ll play it at the show Saturday – he eagerly showed it to me, in the rain, saying that maybe one of these days we’d see Gaynell and him driving it down Broad Street in a local parade.
To watch an audio slideshow about Roy Rogers, click here http://apps.theunion.com/photos/royrogers120507/
WHAT: Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings
WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley
ADMISSION: Tickets for $20 are available through the center’s box office, (530) 274-8384, ext. 14; the usual ticket outlets (BriarPatch in Grass Valley, Yabobo in Nevada City and Cherry Records in Auburn); online at http://www.the
centerforthearts.org or at the door if available. Note: The Book Seller will not be selling tickets for any December event.
INFORMATION: Call 274-8384, ext. 14, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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