Roy Rogers will slide into Tahoe before Steve Miller

Roy Rogers and his Martin guitar are coming to Lake Tahoe along with the Delta Rhythm Kings.

Norton Buffalo has been gone since 2009, but his music and friendships continue to influence artists and even their shows.

Buffalo’s best known collaborations were with the Steve Miller Band for 33 years and in a duo with Roy Rogers that recorded and performed for nearly 20 years. Today, it was announced that Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings will open the Aug. 18 concert headlined by the Steve Miller Band at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys.

“I met Steve through Norton Buffalo,” Rogers told Tahoe Onstage. “Over the years, I’ve sat in with him numerous times so it will be fun to open for him. Another Planet (Entertainment) knew of my friendship with Steve and somebody came to one of my shows at Yoshi’s in Oakland recently and had the idea of me opening up the show for Steve.”

Rogers, 65, is a guitar virtuoso who can simultaneously play rhythm and slide on either his acoustic 1970 Martin or custom electric double-necked Gibson. He’s produced records for John Lee Hooker and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and also made three albums with Ray Manzarek, the late keyboardist for The Doors. His solo recording career began in 1978. Early in Rogers’ career, a music critic wrote, “This is the Roy Rogers with chops, not chaps,” distinguishing the guitarist from Roy Rogers, “the Singing Cowboy.”

“Chops Not Chaps” was the title of Rogers’ 1986 album with Blind Pig Records, and it’s also the title of the record company Rogers heads today. The latest album, “Into the Wild Blue,” was released last year, and includes guest appearances from violin and string-harp player Carlos Reyes and keyboardist Jim Pugh, an esteemed studio player also known for his many years with Robert Cray.

Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings are a trio that includes drummer Kevin Hayes and bassist Steve Ehrmann. The band played last Sunday afternoon at the Powerhouse Pub in Folsom.

“It’s so much fun, and as you can see, people just dance their asses off and it’s just, let it rip,” Rogers said after the show. “The little club’s atmosphere is conducive to people just letting it out and the same is true for the musicians. I hadn’t done ‘The Sky is Cryin’ ‘ since I don’t know when.”

Four days later, it was announced that Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, who had just played for 150 people, would play for as many as 7,500 this summer at Lake Tahoe. Rogers said that Reyes and Pugh will join his band for the show. The five members also played together at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest and will do so again Sunday, May 22, at the Doheny Blues Festival at Dana Point, California.

“It’s fun when all these guys get together,” Rogers said. “Part of the reason is so I can do stuff from the new record because they’re on it. The expanded sound allows me to do those tunes.”

Although a number of fans will attend the Tahoe show to see Rogers, the bluesman, the majority will be there for Miller, the enduring classic rocker.

“(Miller’s) a great guy and such an important figure in the realm of the music business and doing your own thing against record companies back in the day when very few people were doing that,” Rogers said. “He was one of the first guys, if not the first, to take control of his own catalogue.

“When you write hits records like that and they’ve lived in the anthem of American music, that puts you in a realm that few people can go,” Rogers said. “It’s part of the lexicon and Steve is a part of that. He’s written such great songs. He’s up there with the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. It’s a different realm. I don’t live in that realm.”

Related stories:

  • Relentless Roy Rogers speeds ahead. LINK
  • Roy Rogers and Carlos Reyes team up in Tahoe. VIDEO
  • “Into the Wild Blue” album review. LINK
  • Roy Rogers’s collaboration with Ray Manzarek ends with beautiful album. LINK
  • The Steve Miller Band
    Opener: Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings
    When: Thursday, Aug. 18
    Where: Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena
    Tickets: $39.50 to $139.50
    Purchase: LINK