Concertgoers on Thursday at Lake Tahoe were familiar with every song headliner the Steve Miller Band played. When Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings opened the concert, most fans probably didn’t know any of the songs, and, in fact, many hadn’t even heard of the band.
“It’s a challenge,” Rogers said. “Everybody’s here to see Steve.”
While a veteran gunslinger like Roy Rogers is not afraid to take risks, he’s savvy enough to bring along another sharpshooter to the contest.
Carlos Reyes stood beside Rogers onstage at sunset at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys. Rogers held a dual-neck Gibson guitar and wore a metal slide on his pinky. Reyes brought his violin and harp. He spun his bow in a circular motion as he waited to play.
The Delta Rhythm Kings – drummer Kevin Hayes and bassist Steve Evans – were joined by Jim Pugh, the longtime keyboardist for the Robert Cray Band.
Seven songs and 45 minutes later, it was clear to all 5,600 in the arena that the openers had killed it.
“Two’s better than one,” Rogers said backstage after the set. “With two guys, it’s where you can take it. It’s about where the music can go. It opens all the possibilities and it invites everybody in. Interaction with someone like Carlos makes it easy.”
Hardly an unknown to blues music fans, Rogers’ solo recording career began in 1978. He produced a Grammy winning album by John Lee Hooker. And Rogers also is famous for his collaborations, most notably with Norton Buffalo and Ray Manzarek. Lately, he’s shared the stage with Reyes, a native of Paraguay who is trained in classical music. Reyes’ Latin roots and great stage presence blend wonderfully with Rogers’ Delta sound and speedy finesse.
“It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how you relate to the other musicians on stage,” Rogers said. “Like John Lee Hooker said, It’s all about feeling. You have to be open, not closed, otherwise you are not playing with them, you are playing at them.”
Early in his almost 2-hour set, Miller brought Reyes to play with on his hit pop song “Abracadabra” and “Wild Mountain Honey,” which was dedicated to Buffalo, a 33-year member of the Steve Miller Band.
The show, however, hit a lull during an uninspired blues song, “Going to Mexico.” Miller’s ’53 Studebaker was stalled in Tijuana before Reyes and Rogers reappeared on stage to join Miller and fired up “Mercury Blues,” the highlight of the evening.
Miller marveled at Rogers’ syncopated New Orleans style.
“With Roy, it’s never a straight line; it’s this side and that side,” he said. “After the show I want to go eat some gumbo.”
Miller seemed energized by the presence of Reyes and Rogers and the final 45 minutes of the show was a raucously fun classic rock extravaganza. During the last song, “Jet Airliner,” Miller asked if his friends were still there.
Rogers and Reyes came back onstage without instruments, singing in harmony with Miller and dancing in synchronization (or close to it) as if they were in the Temptations.
It’s all about feeling, indeed. http://www.tahoeonstage.com/rogers-and-reyes/