By Richard Freedman, POSTED: 11/10/16, 9:58 AM PST https://bitly.com/
Now into his 60s, Roy Rogers tries to minimize that energy-draining driving from gig to gig. Flying around the world? That’s a different story. Take this past week. The acclaimed slide guitarist was in Denmark and Norway for six gigs, returning to home base in the Sierra foothills on Monday. Rogers returns to his roots next week, making a guest appearance Nov. 23 at the Empress Theatre’s Wednesday Night Live. Also featured is Mighty Mike Schermer, making it special. “Two players of very different guitar styles jamming and trying to take the music to the highest level we can go,” Rogers said. Though he returns for one show a year with his band at the Empress, the Grammy winner said returning to his roots is always a treat.
“I often recall my ‘growing up’ years and ‘the old days’ of my paper routes and Scotty’s Donuts as a kid as well as great gigs at the Rangers Hall and Dan Foley Park when it first opened,” Rogers said. Vallejo, he continued, “has changed dramatically in a number of ways. The physical vibrancy of the downtown and businesses I remember are long gone.” There’s also the “obvious loss of Mare Island Shipyard — we always heard the horn signaling the end-of-work day,” said Rogers.
He recalled two classic theaters — the El Rey, which is now a church, and The Crest, “much better now as the restored Empress.”Diving head-long into nostalgia, Rogers said he really misses the Carnegie Library, with its demolition “a travesty at the time. It should have absolutely been preserved by any means. It should still be there.”
In many ways, Rogers added, “Vallejo was really a microcosm of small-town America to me as I look back with all its imperfections. It was just a very, very different time from now.”Beyond his occasional return to his native town, Rogers plays all over the United States and points far beyond including the Far East. “I would love to go back to perform in China, then to Africa,” Rogers said. “Then, some day, to India.” Whether the audience understood English or not is irrelevant, Rogers hinted. “Music is the great communicator between different cultures,” he said.
Though still passionate about playing with his Delta Rhythm Kings, Rogers keeps life interesting with side projects, including his latest presentation – “Stringshot” — that includes virtuoso violinist Carlos Reyes and Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad.
“Stay tuned,” teased Rogers.
Wednesday Night live with Mighty Mike Schermer and Roy Rogers is Nov. 23, 8 p.m., Empress Theatre, 330 Virginia St., Vallejo. $15 online, $20 door. For more, visit empresstheatre.org.