My music is blues, rags, ballads and the occasional folk song. All acoustic. I write some songs myself, some come from the Piedmont, from Mississippi, often from New Orleans. There’s some Tin Pan Alley, too. Mainly, it’s the music that springs naturally from the life stories of ordinary people, from the largely unheralded but gifted poets and musicians who gave us a truly American music.
These days, my main musical activity is a series of one-man shows called The Roots of American Music. I have given the original Roots to audiences ranging from the National Speakers Association to the Asia Society, to 2,500 kids in Florida, as well as community groups in the Twin Cities. There’s more on the program HERE
I also play acoustic blues, rags and ballads in the Twin Cities as part of the duo, Dirty Water Dawgz. It is a happy combination for me with my son, bassist Jimmy Rogers (God Johnson, Pleasure Pause). We have recently produced aa extended-play disk (five songs), which has Jimmy playing standup electric bass and me on guitar and vocals. Here are two songs from that EP:
Used to Be: A home made song
Jury Man Blues: Southern Blues by Gamble Rogers
In 2012, I traveled from Minnesota down Highway 61, the Blues Highway, to Memphis, then through the Mississippi Delta, finally to New Orleans. It was a great trip, and it contributed to the flavor of the New Orleans chapters of my novel Fatal Score and introduced me to Frank Ratliff, a man who knows how to make the language sparkle. He appears in my short story, Blues Highway, renamed Mase Jarvis.
I was a 2011 semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) as a solo player, and Old and New, Borrowed and Blue was one of eleven albums selected for final judging at the 2012 IBC.
I was a regular solo acoustic player in North Florida for nearly a decade. I have performed at the Florida Folk Festival, the Gamble Rogers Festival, and the Will McLean festival. My “Roots of American Music” one-man show for adults grew out of a program I designed for children from 5 to 15. The Blues Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preservation of blues music heritage, started Blues in the Schools some years ago. My program, developed in association with the North Central Florida Blues Society, is part of that national effort. I have performed it for over 2,500 elementary and high school students. Hear a work song constructed during a BITS performance by third graders from Archer, Florida BITS Work Song.