Roy Rogers — the one with the double-neck guitar, not the horse — is a renowned blues player who has been making records since 1974. He often plays in a trio with the rhythm section the Delta Rhythm Kings, but the slide guitarist also has collaborated with Norton Buffalo, Shana Morrison and is about to release a third album with Ray Manzarek, the former Doors keyboardist. He also played with and produced John Lee Hooker. He performs April 27 with his band and harp and violinist Carlos Reyes at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
In the first of a series of artist columns, Rogers explains why he loves live music:
“The new technology, it can never take the place of a live show.
“It’s two sides of the coin. It’s the people playing and the audience. It’s the togetherness that makes it unique. You’re not playing to a blank wall, you’re playing to real people. You get a response going or a nonresponse going, whatever the case may be, and there’s just nothing better than that.
“I look back at watching Muddy Waters or being onstage with John Lee Hooker, there’s this feeling that is going back and forth that’s a connection between the audience and the artists. People know the difference when an artist is with an audience as opposed to playing at an audience. There’s a big, humongous difference, and that’s what you are talking about here.
“The audience is a part of the show as opposed to somebody getting up there. It might be a great show, but they played at them all night long, so like it’s distant as opposed to being personal. And music is a very personal thing. It’s so unique because you have this feeling onstage with the musicians but you are inviting people, hopefully, to join what’s going on onstage. You’re not just doing it separate from the audience. People feel a real connection to that. That’s a long lasting thing.
“Being onstage? That’s the island. When this comes up, I always go to the great Ray Charles quote: “I play for free, and they pay me for all the other stuff I’ve got to put up with.” That’s the island. Performance is when all the encumbrances are released and hopefully you’ve got a space where you just let it fly.”