Slide guitar great Roy Rogers will bring his unmistakable style to South Lake Tahoe this weekend, playing Harrah’s South Shore Room Saturday night.
Roy Rogers has been a blues man almost as long as he can remember. Born in Redding, Calif., in 1950, Rogers became immersed in the genre at a young age, finding blues roots in the developing folk and rock music scenes.
“I was a little rock n roller in the early ‘60s,” the guitarist told Lake Tahoe Action. “When I was coming up, so many guys played in the rock ‘n’ roll book, as we used to call it in those days. You know, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Righteous Brothers, all that kind of stuff. And then the British thing hit and the Stones and all those guys. I was already playing music in bands; then the folk revival hit, and the folk revival, most notably for me, turned me on to the whole Mississippi Delta Blues thing. I have an older brother who brought home the Robert Johnson record, and that just flipped me out.
“My music really became steeped in the blues,” he said. “I just became fascinated by the whole thing and the development of the blues.”
Rogers played in a number of bands in the Bay Area before forming his trio, the Delta Rhythm Kings, in the early ‘80s. Soon after, he joined the John Lee Hooker band, touring, recording and producing four albums for the legendary blues artist, including the album “The Healer,” which won Hooker and guest vocalist Bonnie Raitt a Grammy for “Best Traditional Blues Recording” in 1990.
Rogers has also collaborated with Elvin Bishop, Carlos Santana, Sammy Hagar and a host of other famed musicians. He released a record with Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek in 2011, titled “Translucent Blues,” and has been working on a follow up album titled “Twisted Tales,” which will be released by the fall.
“I love collaborative things,” he said. “It drives the music in directions that you know not.”
The guitarist has a love for Lake Tahoe even older than his passion for the blues.
“I used to come up to Tahoe when I was a kid,” Rogers said. “We always came to Tahoe Pines, right by Homewood. I have great memories of childhood and summertime being up there, getting burned on my tube on the lake.”
The guitarist played one of his earliest gigs in the Tahoe area, he said.
“It was for Truckee High School,” he said. “We were in a band in Vallejo, and somebody knew somebody up here, and we played in an old A-frame where they were holding their all-night party for Truckee High School. That would’ve probably been, I want to say ‘65, could have been ‘64.”
Instead of an old cabin, Rogers and his band will play Harrah’s South Shore Room Saturday night. Steve Evans (bass) and Kevin Hayes (drums) make up the Delta Rhythm Kings with Rogers. The trio will also be joined by a special guest artist in Carlos Reyes.
Born in Paraguay, Reyes began playing violin as a small child and soon progressed to the Paraguayan harp. He moved to the San Francisco area as a young man, playing in the jazz-rock group Merlin. As a solo artist, he has been wowing audiences worldwide with his talent for stringed instruments.
Reyes and Rogers have collaborated in the past. They have toured together, and Rogers has featured Reyes on two of his albums, he said. The relationship is one that Rogers enjoys immensely.
“An amazing musician, I’ll tell you why,” Rogers said of Reyes. “First of all, he plays the harp, as in the stringed instrument the harp. He plays it in such a unique way. It’s actually a smaller harp than a standard harp. Carlos is not a small guy; he can lift the thing up and kind of walk around with it. When we get going, some sparks are flying on the old stage there.”