Roy Rogers and Carlos Reyes unite at the Downtown Theatre in Fairfield on Aug. 27
By Richard Freedman, Vallejo Times-Herald
POSTED: 08/10/16, 11:40 AM PDT | UPDATED: 13 HRS AGO
The drive from Mammoth Lakes to Nevada City is scenic, to be sure. But it’s also long. And when you’re a 66-year-old musician — not that being a musician has much to do with it — it’s a grudge match.
Oh, the four-day Mammoth Lakes Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza last weekend was a blast, to be sure, said Roy Rogers. And who can argue with performing for around 3,000 fans?
“Five hours is five hours,” Rogers said of the journey home. “The older we get, these long drives get to me.”
It could be worse. Take the tour with the late, great John Lee Hooker. Nonstop to Detroit from the Bay Area, 1982. Sure, Hooker got to fly. But the band got the bus.
“I had never been on the road,” Rogers said. “And we went straight through. No stopping, no hotels. It was a rough initiation.”
Just part of the learning while earning process as Rogers established himself as a top-notch blues artist and Grammy-winning producer.
A Vallejo native, Rogers returns almost to his roots Aug. 27 with his Delta Rhythm Kings plus guest Carlos Reyes at the Downtown Theatre in Fairfield.
Rogers recalled played numerous gigs at Travis Air Force Base in his youth and one gig working with Tower of Power at a Fairfield bowling alley.
“I believe this is my first Fairfield gig since then,” he said.
It’s been some time since Rogers left his native Vallejo for Marin County. Now, he is living the good life with his wife, Gaynell, in the Sierra Foothills of Nevada City.
If a gig isn’t in the books — Rogers hits Harvey’s Lake Tahoe on Aug. 18 as the opener for rocker Steve Miller — there’s usually a recording project, the bearded slide guitarist said. He expects a CD combining Brazilian, Latin and blues out in 2017.
“Very different stuff. That’s all I can say. It’s in the hopper,” Rogers said.
Needless to say, but he said it anyway — Reyes is also involved in the project. It’s been a one-two combination music and friend relationship that Rogers enjoys.
“The energy and conversation people get to witness” with the two “is very special,” Rogers said. “We’re having fun and people see we’re having fun.”
Rogers said his on-stage relationship with Reyes is like the one he had with the late harmonica player, Norton Buffalo, “when you would have this unspoken thing. The friendship and relationship to be able to do that and people love seeing that because they do get it. Everyone feels together.”
Rogers expects to see many friends and fans from the area at the Fairfield gig. At the Tahoe performance opening for Miller, it’s a chance to snag new fans, he said.
“People obviously will come to hear Steve, but it’s a great opportunity,” Rogers said. “Opening for him makes it real easy. You just give it your best shot and get off stage.”
Though those cross-country tours are a likely thing of the past — in Rogers’ rear-view mirror, one might say — it’s not as if he won’t fly somewhere for a weekend when the demand arrives.
“I’m not independently wealthy,” Rogers said. “Though I am luckier than most.”
Rogers is in good health — knock on wood — since an on-stage heart attack in 2010.
“We don’t (literally) count our blessings, but we savor them,” Rogers said. “We’re here on the planet and still having a good time and hopefully have something to say that people want to listen to.”
Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings plus Carlos Reyes at the Downtown Theatre, 1035 Texas St., Fairfield, Sat., Aug. 27, 8 p.m. Tickets $30-$35. For information, visit downtowntheatre.com.