The Randy Rogers Band will be at the Cheatham Street Warehouse Monday night.
By HAP MANSFIELD
When denoting unknown territories on a map, ancient cartographers often wrote “Here Are Lions,” or “Here There Be Dragons. ” It’s familiar territory for the Randy Rogers Band, whose country rock stylings are grittier and more honest than those with which “industry insiders” who chart success were comfortable. The band continues to astound.
It’s been ten years since the band cut and released “Live at the Cheatham Street Warehouse,” and its star has continued to steadily rise ever since. The band now is poised on the upcoming release of a new album, “Burning the Day,” which promises to be every bit as successful as its last project, which was the one of the most downloaded country albums on iTunes.
The band will be at its old stomping grounds, the Cheatham Street Warehouse, with Wade Bowen Monday night for the “Hold My Beer and Watch This” tour.
The band has been showered with accolades since its first days at the Cheatham Street.
USA Today praised the band’s “grit, swagger and heart.” Rolling Stone named the the Randy Rogers Band, along with U2 and the Rolling Stones, as one of the 10 must-see artists in the summer of 2007. The band was on the bill this year with Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russel and David Allan Coe at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Bee Cave.
There’s more. The Randy Rogers Band has been on the Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman. Playboy Magazine named the band’s self-titled album as the best country album of the year. The band has shared the stage with Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan, the Eagles and, of course, Willie Nelson.
There is no question that the Randy Rogers Band is going places, and has been places most country bands will never see.
The question is “Why?” and the answer will come as no surprise to San Marcos, which houses several of the best incubating venues for Texas talent in the forms of Triple Crown, the Gray Horse Saloon and Kent Finlay’s Cheatham Street Warehouse.
“Kent is the only reason the Randy Rogers Band is here today,” said Rogers. ” Without the doors of Cheatham Street being opened for me, I wouldn’t have had a shot.”
Much of the band’s success comes down to the song itself. This is something that musicians who participate in the Cheatham Street’s Songwriters’ Circle know all too well. As a matter of fact, it was at the Songwriters’ Circle that Rogers got his start, honed his talent and got his band together.
Randy Rogers writes a very compelling song. It is this artistry that elevates the band above the banal new country pop that often rises to the airwaves much to the chagrin of the seasoned country music fan. Rogers writes about real people, real relationships and hard choices. The younger fan who craves a bit of rock in her music is equally delighted by the songs as the older fan who can hear the depth of Roger’s country soul.
Of course, guitarist Geoffrey Hill, bass guitarist Jon Richardson, fiddler Brady Black and drummer Les Lawless fill more than just the space around Rogers on stage. They contribute to the sound that has put them on the country music map, albeit on the edge of the chart that says “Here there be Randy Rogers Band.” Initially, country music insiders didn’t really know what to make of the band and have scrambled to get on board and make sense of it. It’s often hard for “insider” folks to understand sincerity. There didn’t seem to be a market for it. They were wrong.
Rogers was born and raised in Cleburne. He learned to play piano from his grandma when he was six years old, and when you learn to play music that young it digs down deep into your life. Cleburne has been in the news lately for gas line explosions and minor earthquakes. Could Rogers’ impending world fame be the cause of all this?
“Cleburne is now a hot spot for earthquakes and alien sightings,” Rogers said. “I’m just happy they can’t blame me. If I still lived there I bet it would be my fault. Back in the day, it was all my fault.”
Both Rogers and tour-mate Wade Bowen are known for their generosity when dealing with other musicians, which, in Texas, anyway, is how the music business rolls.
“Randy and Wade are both constantly going out of their way to help others in whatever way they can,” said Cheatham Street proprietor and guru Finlay. “They set a fine example and make us all proud to be part of the Texas music business.”
Finlay continued, “Randy’s tremendous talent is out there for all the world to see — but the world might not know that his heart is a big as his talent. Sometimes the good guys do win.”
Because Rogers is familiar with Cheatham Street lore, we wondered if he’d ever heard a train passing as the band was playing. It is supposed to be a sign of good luck.
“I’ve played Cheatham a hundred times and been the on the receiving end of many train whistles,” Rogers said. “I do believe it’s good luck if you are playing an original song and a train blows by. It means you will be as successful as George Strait. Okay, not really. But it doesn’t hurt to dream. I’m still dreaming.”Email | Print