GUITAR GODS: Roy Rogers | Skinny Devil Magazine

The blues is a stunningly diverse musical form that began some time post-Civil War in the southern US. The earliest blues was an acoustic form (electric blues came later) and often was performed by solo musicians. When performed this way, it requires great skill to "fill the space", and legends like Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and others - with their distinct vocal styles, slide guitar skills, and rhythmic prowess - set the bar very high for those who dared follow.

Roy Rogers is one of the few living guitarists to dare and to meet that bar.

Born in 1950 in Redding, California, he was playing guitar by his teens. Soon after he was playing in bands and his skills helped him find early success as solo performer, band member, producer, and more.

He is a Grammy winning (John Lee Hooker's "The Healer") producer and also has multiple Grammy nominations. He also has several other award wins & nominations under his belt, including a Blues Music Award nomination for Best Blues Guitar Instrumental.

His work has been heard on movies like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", he was a featured performer at Robert Johnson's 1986 induction into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (other performers included Chris Whitley, Warren Haynes, Rory Block, Keb Mo', Honeyboy Edwards, Johnson's stepson Robert Lockwood, Jr, and more), played as a member of John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Band, been on national TV multiple times (including sitting in with Conan O'Brian's band), graced magazine covers, toured the world, and more....and racked up even more Grammy nominations along the way.

Learn more about Roy at his WEB-SITE, where you'll find tour dates, music release info, videos, photos, bio, and much more!

I had a chance to chat with Roy recently. Check it out!

1) What are your current projects? 

My newest project is called "StringShot". I have already recorded some tracks with the great Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad (ed. note: read Badi Assad's "Guitar Gods" interview here at SD Magazine) and renowned stringed-harp/violinist Carlos Reyes. We will start to release some of the tracks very soon (we also have 2 videos done) - with a full CD to be released later this year or early in 2018. Touring of the band will not begin until next year.

2) How does this (do these) differ from your past work? 

"StringShot" is VERY different than anything that I have done before. I describe it as a 'new' blend of blues/Latin with some jazz elements....envision slide guitar with classical/bossa nova guitar and stringed harp/jazz violin--an interesting combination, to say the least! There are some vocals on the recording as well.

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist? 

They are all different and reflect how you felt at a particular time in your life - so they are all important to me for different reasons. With that said, I would say that I 'stretched the music' the most on my recording "Slideways"- an instrumental CD (all slide guitar) recorded some years ago.

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio), and do you have a favorite piece of gear? 

Gear: I usually use 3 guitars onstage - a Martin 0-16 NY with DeArmond 220 pickup ( which is really my signature sound); a 12-String Dobro electric; and a Custom Double-neck (both 6-string necks) made for me by Sean Chappell. Amplification is a 1979 Boogie Mk II and a MotionSound 'leslie'. I use only 2 pedals - an Arion SCH-Z Stereo chorus and a DurhamEletronics 'Sex Drive' gain boost, both of which are great.

In the studio I am able to use all kinds of setups (guitars and amps) to get the sounds for whatever the track needs - too numerous to all mention here.


5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players? 

Early musical influences for me, I've got to start with the Big 3: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley (I wore out all of their records as a kid!). 

From there, more into blues: BB King, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmy Reed. From there, all the Delta blues musicians you can think of, but especially Robert Johnson, who will always be the king of the Delta Blues, hands down! 

Finally, when the British bands came on the scene, for me it was the Rolling Stones and the Animals that were influential, in large part from the R&B and blues songs that they covered early on, which helped me find a lot of music that I did not know about then. It's all been part of a great journey really, and continues to be so, I am happy to say.

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players? 

Listen to everything (all types of music, regardless of your preferences) - it will all go into the mix. But, remember it all starts with the blues. So go back to the sources, and then back to 'their' sources, wherever you find them! There is still so much music for all of us to discover, old or new!

7) What are your future plans? 

I am considering a recording of standards and maybe a few jazz tunes with slide guitar. Or possibly recording/covering of some of my all-time favorite songs.

8) Thanx for talking to us, Roy!

All the best. Thanks!

Roy Rogers is back in Vallejo

Saturday April 1st at The Empress in Vallejo 

Saturday April 1st at The Empress in Vallejo 

By Richard Freedman, Vallejo Times-Herald
POSTED: 03/24/17, 2:13 PM PDT | UPDATED: 6 DAYS AGO 0 COMMENTS

Victorville was once noted for more than its place in the Top 10 of “California’s Most Dangerous Cities, a tag compliments of a Southern California law firm in 2016.

The San Bernardino city of about 120,000 residents was the thriving headquarters of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum.

And if there’s any Vallejo native who knew that, it was Rogers’ slide guitar-playing namesake.

“It was one of my favorite steps,” said Rogers, describing the shrine to the late country music star and actor “like a fort you used to see in the westerns.”

In 2003, however, the entire museum relocated to Branson, Mo., where it lived a quiet life until shutting down for good six years later.

Everything went up for auction — $2.9 million worth — including the eye-opening 2003 Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Bonneville, a car decorated with rifles, silver dollars, and, naturally, a cattle-horn hood ornament.

“In Victorville, it (the car) was just a part of the whole package of memorabilia that was there, really,” Rogers said. “You must understand, virtually everything was on display from his career — Trigger (his horse), Bullet (his dog), Nellybelle (the jeep), RR guns, awards, photos ... plus all of the toys made that he licensed his name to, a fair amount of which I have collected myself over the years. So, I remember seeing the Bonneville in the overall ‘museum context.’”

That car found a home at Buck Kamphausen’s USA World Classics Event Center in downtown Vallejo which, as fate would have it, is some two blocks from where Rogers the musician will perform April 1 at the Empress Theatre.

Understandably, Rogers always had a connection with the country singer, who died in 1998 at 86, though he said he was only “partially” named after Roy Rogers.

“My mother had a distant uncle named ‘Roy,’ but he wasn’t a Rogers. They did say it would be ‘very cute’ to name me after the cowboy,” Rogers said.

Cute, maybe, but the Vallejo native now living in the Nevada foothills took a verbal beating.

“I got teased to death when I was a kid,” Rogers said. “In first or second grade, I remember wearing cowboy boots to school. It would be, ‘Oh that’s Roy Rogers in his cowboy boots.’”

While other students were called out by first name only, “with me it was always ‘Roy Rogers.’ They’d say my full name,” Rogers said.

Rogers attended three Vallejo elementary schools — Highland, Beverly Hills, and Stefan Manor. He went on to Vallejo Junior High School, graduating from Vallejo High School in 1968.

Academically, “I was pretty good. A solid ‘B’ student I would say,” Rogers remembered, recalling his passion for history “from the very beginning.”

“I would go into the closet and read the encyclopedia,” Rogers said.

Music was always around with his mother, Luverne, playing classical tunes from the 1930s and ’40s on the piano, he said. Rogers’ dad, William, was the West Coast Superintendent, overseeing the Mothball Fleet in the Suisun Bay.

Both, obviously, were country star Roy Rogers fans. And did their best to make sure their son met the legend.

Actually, Rogers said, “I met Roy three times.”

Seems the country singer was Grand Marshal of the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Vallejo’s Rogers was about 5 at the time.

“He was in a big car — probably a Cadillac — and I distinctly remember my mother or father holding me up at the entrance and saying ‘My son’s name is Roy Rogers, too’ and he (the country singer) was shaking my little hand,” Rogers said.

The second meeting was “many years later” in the early 1980s, Rogers said. This time, Roy Rogers the superstar sat in with the country band, “Sons of the Pioneers.”

“He’s walking through the gauntlet of people on each side of him and my friend says, ‘Hey, this is Roy Rogers.” Again, the older Roy shakes the younger Roy’s hand.

Ah, but the third and final time. A memory to last a lifetime.

Little Roy has become an established blues musician, singer, songwriter and producer. It was 1991 and he was nominated for a Grammy for “Song for Jessica,” which he produced and performed with the late harmonica great, Norton Buffalo.

As it turned out, the original Roy Rogers was also nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for “Hold On Partner,” which he performed with Clint Black.

Neither Rogers won. No matter.

“We had an extensive conversation and pictures,” Rogers said happily. “He talked about meeting a bunch of people in his life named Roy Rogers. I have this great picture with his arm around me and I’m grinning ear to ear.”

Thanks to his idol, Vallejo’s Rogers got a free limo ride the night after the Grammys from the New York Hilton to the airport. Seems the limo driver was to pick up the other Roy Rogers, but got the blues singer instead. And he didn’t mind one bit.

“He says, ‘I’m a big fan of yours. I love the slide guitar’ and starts naming my old records,” Rogers said. “What are the odds? He was a fan of mine.”

And if, some day, a kid came up to Rogers and said, “I was named after you.”

“That would be weird,” Rogers said.

Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings with guest Jimmy Pugh are at the Empress Theatre, 330 Virginia St., Vallejo, Saturday, April 1, 8 p.m. Tickets $25-$75. For more, visit empresstheatre.org or call (707) 552-2400.

Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings at Ferndale’s Old Steeple

By The Redwood Times
POSTED: 03/20/17, 3:11 PM PDT 

Virtuoso slide guitarist and Grammy winner Roy Rogers and his trio, the Delta Rhythm Kings, bring their unique sound to The Old Steeple for a night of high-energy blues on Saturday, March 25.

Rogers is one of the world’s premier slide guitarists and a master of the Mississippi Delta Blues. In addition to racking up accolades for his electrifying live performances, Rogers has also gained fame as a record producer who has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry, including John Lee Hooker, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bonnie Raitt, and Ray Manzarek, the late keyboardist for The Doors. Rogers took home two Grammy Awards for his production work with Hooker, and has received eight Grammy nominations both as a producer and performer.

Rolling Stone calls Roy Rogers “an exceptionally articulate slide guitarist, whether 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.”

Ferndale Music Company and The Old Steeple are located at 246 Berding Street (next to the cemetery) and are open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

For more info, call 707-786-7030 or visit ferndalemusiccompany.com.

Show at 7:30 p.m. / Doors at 6:30 p.m.

All ages, $25 in advance / $30 at the door

Tickets available at Ferndale Music Company and Mind’s Eye Coffee Lounge in Ferndale and online at brownpapertickets.com.

Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings in Willits, CA on Feb 11th

From Willits News
Cosmic Pickle Productions is proud to present Roy Rogers, known as one of the world’s finest slide guitarists with eight Grammy nominations. He will be honoring Willits on Feb. 11, bringing his Delta Rhythm Kings to the Little Lake Grange in Willits.

Doors open at 6 and music starts at 7:30. Tickets for the show will be sold at the door. A Valentine’s feast offering prime rib, salmon or veggie will be served before the show to those who purchased dinner tickets.

So come on out to 291 School St. to celebrate what Rolling Stone calls “one of the rare guitar heroes who values feeling over flash.”

Click here for TICKETS 

News from The Slidezone - Roy Rogers Slide Guitarist

NEWS:  On January 12th Roy Rogers performed in honor of his long time friend and collaborator, Norton Buffalo. The concert and dedication ceremony took place at Norton Buffalo Hall in Paradise, CA. The years of friendship enjoyed by Rogers & Buffalo combined with their creativity and incredible musicianship produced unforgettable Americana recordings and performances. It was a tremendous honor for Roy to pay tribute to Norton Buffalo in this way as his music is fondly remembered and continues to live on. 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
It's official! The Roots Agency now represents Roy Rogers for concert and tour booking. The 22-year old company has offices in New Jersey and California, with company founder and agent Tim Drake in charge of booking East Coast dates for Roy, and agent David Lloyd covering the West Coast and Midwest. "I've known Roy for many years and we are very excited to now be representing a musician of his caliber. He's a perfect fit for the agency", says Lloyd. Representing many other fine artists such as Arlo Guthrie, Graham Parker and UB40, The Roots Agency was just nominated as Independent Booking Agency of the Year by the 2017 Pollstar Awards. We welcome The Roots Agency with great enthusiasm and look forward to the year ahead, we are in good hands!

David Lloyd      david@therootsagency.com

Blast of Blues

Roy Rogers & the Delta Rhythm Kings will headline a New Year’s Eve concert in Grass Valley
By: Carol Guild, Features Editor

A blast of the blues. Upbeat, on-your-feet, kick-up-your-heels blues.
And that’s just a little something to warm you up.

Roy Rogers & the Delta Rhythm Kings have been known to bring down the house. What’s better than that for a New Year’s Eve celebration?
A slide guitarist with credits higher than a DJ’s stacks of wax, Rogers is a Grammy-nominated producer and recording artist.

He has worked with John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santa, Sammy Hagar and Steve Miller, among countless others. His collaboration with The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek debuted at #6 on the Billboard charts and reached #1 on the American Roots Rock Chart.

Rogers has accumulated eight Grammy nominations with records by John Lee Hooker and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. And he has received numerous accolades for his songwriting, such as a Grammy nomination for Bonnie Raitt’s version of “Gnawin’ On It.”

“I recorded with Bonnie Raitt, and with John Lee Hooker,” he said. “She and John won Grammies for the tracks I wrote.” He still keeps in touch with Raitt. “I sit in with her often,” he said. “It’s dueling slide guitars.”

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is another of several artists with whom Rogers is still close. “I produced a couple of records for Jack,” Rogers said. “I’m in touch with Jack all the time. He’s still sharp, going strong, still telling his stories about Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.”

Rogers is credited on film soundtracks, too. “I played on ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he said. “And ‘The Hot Spot,’ with Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker; It’s an interesting soundtrack of jazz and blues.”

Rogers’ newest release is “Into the Wild Blue.” “It’s a departure of sorts,” he said. “A lot of influences came into play on this one. This is more of an R and B feel.” There are more instrumental songs on “Into the Wild Blue.” The album features harpist Carlos Reyes and pianist Jim Pugh.  MORE...

A&E Source: Roy Rogers back as special Wednesday Night Live guest

RR recorder article.PNG

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.

Simpatico: Roy Rogers, Carlos Reyes shine onstage

Roy Rogers, left, Kevin Hayes and Carlos Reyes welcome Tahoe crowd with a rousing 45-minute set.   Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Roy Rogers, left, Kevin Hayes and Carlos Reyes welcome Tahoe crowd with a rousing 45-minute set. Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

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/

Vallejo native Roy Rogers with Carlos Reyes in Fairfield

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.