Entertainment

Touring band stays true to old-school country roots

The Randy Rogers Band is a unique animal in country music. The Texan quintet releases Top-5 charting country albums and opens outdoor amphitheater tours for Miranda Lambert, but it also has managed to maintain credibility as a red-dirt country alternative to Nashville’s polish.

Frontman Rogers credits the band’s old-school approach to touring 200 dates a year for the past 13 years.

“That garners a little bit different type of a fan base than having a big single and relying on radio play,” he says. “In certain cities, it’s done wonders for us.”

The group is doing just that playing Amos’ Southend on Saturday.

The group usually clocks under 30 minutes as an opening act. As a headliner, it gets to delve deeper into its six studio albums, including the critically acclaimed career high, “Trouble.”

“Trouble” feels like a different kind of record.

Produced by Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Cage the Elephant), “Trouble” is an eclectic ride featuring radio-ready pop-country singles like “Speak of the Devil” (Rogers’ favorite track to play live) and “One More Sad Song,” .38 Special-like country-rock opener “Goodbye Lonely,” the irresistibly hard-rocking “Don’t Deserve You,” and the odd stoner-blues of “Fuzzy” with Texas songwriting legend Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Even the weeping twang of the reverb-drenched guitar on a tearjerker like “Had to Give That Up Too” isn’t your standard country guitar.

“We had a fresh start with a new producer,” Rogers says. “I tried harder to write comprehensively a good record. We took our time, rehearsed and played 300 to 400 more shows than last time we were in the studio. We are at a point now that I don’t feel like we’re making records for radio. We wanted to make sure all the songs that we cut, we can play live.”

Joyce’s approach certainly loosened up the band’s sense of adventure.

“A lot of it was trusting Jay,” Rogers says. “His ideas are sometimes very different than a typical producer. Our drummer is literally playing a hot dog rack and banjo with some kind of tool on it as a snare drum. (He miked) a snare running through an upstairs bathroom. At first, we were all a little bit confused. We saw the light pretty soon.”

“Trouble” comes at a time when the definition of country music is evolving.

“I’m probably not alone to say I’m a little confused by mainstream country music,” he says. “When I hear hip-hop mixed on my country station and on country television channels and on awards shows that are supposed to be for country music, it’s very confusing. But it doesn’t affect what I do. I know I can play true to music we grew up on.”

Though he’s not a household name, Rogers is happy with the band’s success.

“My goal and dream when I was little was to write country songs,” he says. “The measuring stick isn’t how much money you make, it’s that we get to do this for a living.”

  Comments