Randy Rogers Band
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Latest ReleaseView All
Nothing Shines Like Neon
Release date: 1.15.16
Label: Tommy Jackson Records / Thirty Tigers
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RANDY ROGERS BAND BIO:
Authenticity isn’t something that can be manufactured in a studio. It’s not a craft that can be learned or artfully practiced. It comes from living life. It’s the byproduct of blood, sweat and tears and as the foundation for music, it elevates mere entertainment to compelling art. Every note, every word on the Randy Rogers Band’s new album Nothing Shines Like Neon (1.15.16) rings with an authenticity that makes each song linger with the listener long after the music fades.
“You’ve just got to be true to yourself and you can’t fool anybody,” Rogers states matter of factly of the band’s philosophy. “As a whole, our body of work is pretty consistent to our live show and the band that plays on the record is the band that you go see."
The same lineup has been performing together since 2002 and the music has evolved as they’ve soaked up life experience. “As men, we’ve all matured and lived a lot of life together,” Rogers says. “We’ve had a few breakups happen to us. We’ve had babies. We’ve had life changes. We’ve been on the road 200 shows a year. I’ve been in this band 15 years so a lot has changed. I still listen to Merle Haggard every night. I mean that hasn’t changed, but a lot has changed for us musically and privately. We all are in a good spot and we all are just as good friends as when we started.”
Camaraderie and creativity have made Rogers and bandmates Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Johnny “Chops” Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), Les Lawless (drums) and Todd Stewart (utility player) one of the top bands on the competitive Texas music scene. Nothing Shines Like Neon continues the momentum established by the band’s four previous albums—Randy Rogers Band, Burning the Day, Trouble and Homemade Tamales, each of which went to No. 1 on iTunes. Earlier in 2015, Rogers joined friend Wade Bowen to record the critically acclaimed album Hold My Beer Vol. 1.
Produced by Nashville legend Buddy Cannon (Willie/Merle) at Cedar Creek in Austin, RRB’s new album Nothing Shines Like Neon showcases the band’s taut musicianship as well as Rogers’ earnest vocals and insightful songwriting on such instant classics as the groove-laden “Rain and the Radio,” the heartbreak anthem “Neon Blues” and the playful “Actin’ Crazy,” a duet with Jamey Johnson. “Jamey and I wrote that song together,” Rogers notes. “I met a movie star a few days before Jamey and I were going to write. I was in LA playing at the House of Blues and he came out to the show. I was thinking about him …and thinking about being a struggling actor living in LA and having to put up with all the bullshit that LA is. I just wrote that song about him.”
The album opens with the fiddle-driven shuffle “San Antone”. “That is a Keith Gattis song. He wrote by himself. Being from Texas and living so close to San Antonio, I don’t think that song is going to hurt me at all,” Rogers laughs. “It’s one of those songs when I heard it I was like, ‘Oh hell! Why didn’t I write this song?’”
“Takin’ It As It Comes” features Lone Star legend Jerry Jeff Walker. “I’ve been a big fan of Jerry Jeff’s all my life,” Rogers says. “He came in the studio with us, got in there with the band, jumped around and played guitar and sang. We had a great time.”
“Rain and the Radio” is Rogers’ homage to Ronnie Milsap. “I wrote that with Sean McConnell. He and I have written a lot of songs through the years. I’ve always been a huge Ronnie Milsap fan and to me that song has a little Milsap feel to it, kind of a bluesy country thing, which we haven’t done before. Any artist that I look up to always tries to create something different and pushes the envelope a little bit. I think we do with that song in particular. It’s very country. It’s just very different. As a band, we’re trying to broaden our horizons and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If we were all just stuck doing the same old thing, we would all be bored. We probably wouldn’t still be here. It’s just a matter of spreading your wings a little bit.”
“Look Out Yonder” is a poignant tune Rogers recorded in honor of his mentor, the late Kent Finlay. “Kent gave me my start in the music business. Up until the day that he died, we talked about songs and about music,” Rogers says. “We actually named the record, Nothing Shines Like Neon after a lyric in one of his songs as a tribute to him. Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski are singing on ‘Look Out Yonder’, which was written by Earl Bud Lee, who is most famous for writing ‘Friends In Low Places’. He and I have been friends for 10 years and he has always wanted me to cut that song. I’ve never had a record where it fit and just thinking about losing Kent and Kent going to heaven and joining his mom, ‘Look out yonder coming down the road’ it just fit. I haven’t performed that song yet live, but I know I’m going to have a hard time getting through it. The day we started our record, I got a call that Kent passed away so this record is definitely dedicated to Kent. That song makes me think about all of us musicians and how we are crazy as hell and lead the most unorthodox lives. Most of us return back to our roots, so, hopefully, this is an album that glorifies Kent’s life and is also a nod to the traditional sounds that we all grew up loving.”
A native of Cleburne, Texas, Rogers grew up addicted to traditional country music. “I wanted to be George Strait when I was in the sixth grade,” he says with a smile. “And I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, I’ve listened to them more than anybody else, my whole life. I always liked songs. I always wanted to find out who wrote the songs and what the songs were about. I always liked the art and the craft of being a songwriter. My dad’s Beatles records got played a lot and Michael Martin Murphy is another one I listened to a lot as a kid. My dad was a huge fan.”
Like many artists, Rogers got his start performing in church and then expanded to local venues. “I could write a song when I was pretty little, 11, 12 or 13,” he says. “It’s like a kid who could do calculus or something. It was just something that clicked in my brain for me. I went and finished college and got a degree in public relations and then started a band.”
Since then the Randy Rogers Band has steadily built a following that has spilled beyond their native Texas. For the past 10 years they’ve recorded for Universal Music Group, but on Nothing Shines Like Neon, Rogers again takes the reins, releasing the album on his own Tommy Jackson Records, named after a song he wrote for their very first album. “It’s a very obscure Randy Rogers Band song and to this day there is always this one drunk kid at a show that says, ‘Play “Tommy Jackson!” Play “Tommy Jackson!”’ It’s kind of a running joke within our band. It’s like, ‘How in the hell did this kid in Iowa City, Iowa remember that stupid song “Tommy Jackson?”’ It’s about a guy who is on the run from the cops, wanted for murder. It’s a story song and we just felt like it was a unique way to name a record label.”
Nothing Shines Like Neon is a stellar collection in an already impressive body of recorded material that owes a lot to the band’s potent live show. “You come to a show, you know what you’re going to get,” Rogers says. “We’ve worked hard at making ourselves better on stage and we care about our live show. It’s a way to come out and unwind, and we’ve stuck to writing songs that are about real life, about breakups or divorces, falling in love or babies being born and, in the case of this record, even death, the ups and downs of life. People can relate. That’s what country music is supposed to be. Our band has been around for a long time because there’s no bullshit to us. We’re not in it to be rich and famous. We’re in it to make a living, provide for our families and do something that we all love. You can’t fool people and we haven’t ever tried. I think that’s the key.”
RANDY ROGERS BIO:
Randy Rogers’ commitment to community, family and music began in his earliest days while in church. Growing up in Cleburne, Texas, with a Baptist minister father, Rogers began his musical journey long before stepping foot into Cheatham Street Warehouse as a Mass Communications major at Texas State University in the late ‘90s.
“It all started for me in the church,” Rogers says. “Because playing piano and writing songs was something I loved doing when I was 12 years old. I knew then I wanted to be a songwriter, and that songwriting and music was the best way for me to figure out the world.”
As a musical youth, Rogers took his developing talents to the small-town Opry halls in Northeast Texas, and in high school he started writing love songs with more regularity. It’s an impressive path that’s led him and his namesake band onto the Billboard charts and onto the biggest stages music has to offer. Even though his band has sold well over 1 million records, Rogers is certain he’s not ready to slow things down.
“I’ve always felt I was climbing a mountain, or heading towards a distant spot far ahead,” he says. “It’s not that I’ve never been discouraged at all, but I’ve never thought about stopping what I’m doing or not trying to get better. I don’t think there’s really an end to a songwriter’s life because the songs live forever.”
Over the course of a dozen releases and multiple major award nominations, Rogers and his band, consisting of the same core members it began with, have gone from rowdy college town bar group to one of the most successful, long-running acts in the always burgeoning Texas music scene. He’s worked with many of the industry’s leading names such as Radney Foster, Dean Dillon, Jay Joyce, and Paul Worley. And on recent records, Rogers has fulfilled lifelong dreams of singing with the legendary likes of Allison Krauss, Jerry Jeff Walker, and the Red Headed Stranger himself, Willie Nelson.
Since forming the Randy Rogers Band in San Marcos before graduating in 2001, Rogers has become one of the more revered names and voices in Country music, and especially among the more recent crop of up and coming artists from the Lone Star State.
“My songs and records roll out like a biography,” he says. “So as I get older, it’s still a bit of a shock to me to see a younger artist say that my music has made a big impact on them and influenced their own career.”
Hit songs and sold-out shows are major bullet points for a songwriter’s resume, but over the past several years, as he continued to grow into his roles as family man and business man, he looked for ways to evolve beyond the cheers of the crowd. The care and concern for his peers and his community instilled in him during those Sunday morning services is evident in many of the moves he’s made in recent times.
When Rogers and many of his friends such as Wade Bowen and Cody Canada made their names in a time when the so-called “Texas country movement” was barely crawling, today’s independent music landscape is a sprawling industry, stretching to all corners of the United States and beyond. Employing the same determination he has since childhood to become a country star, Rogers has been branching out into the business world to be a positive influence beyond the stage and studio.
In early 2016, Rogers and long-time manage Robin Schoepf launched Big Blind Management with the aim of steering promising songwriters towards a fruitful, long-lasting career. In December 2016, Rogers purchased the Cheatham Street Warehouse to help preserve the legacy that Kent Finlay left after his passing in March of the previous year. The San Marcos institution is where Rogers, as well as so many country legends including George Strait and Hal Ketchum, first performed while exciting young talents such as William Clark Green count the spot as hallowed ground.
Rogers says that as an artist manager himself, he hopes to “take younger artists under my wing and help them avoid some of the pitfalls I felt early in my own career.” And that as an owner of Cheatham Street warehouse, where he signed his major label record deal years ago, he is “proud of and dedicated to” continuing the tradition that Finlay and his family have been building and nurturing for decades.
But the music business isn’t the only business that Rogers and his wife, Chelsea, are deeply involved in however. With San Marcos and New Braunfels locations of River Rose, Chelsea’s clothing and makeup boutique, the passion for locally-owned small business is backed with flair as well as boots-on-the-ground hard work. For years, Rogers has hosted Golf Jam, formerly known as For the Sake of the Shot, a charity golf tournament and concert, raising money for a number of worthy causes, while lending his voice to fundraising concerts and tournaments hosted by many of his well-known friends each year.
Most recently, his role in the ownership group for the new Cleburne Railroaders is practically something out of a movie. In 2017, Rogers, a lifelong baseball fan, helped welcome a new team and a new stadium to the place where he had to switch on the television in order to see real ball played. For him to “give something I didn’t have when I was a kid to the community I grew up in,” was its own unique dream come true.
Through it all, the desire to grow has driven Rogers to achieve success. Those childhood lessons first gleaned along the piano bench of his Dad’s church have indeed proven to be valuable assets well into adulthood and fatherhood. For Rogers, a varied portfolio and a well-rounded set of causes means those closest to him will continue to share in the rewards.
“I started out riding around in an ’88 Suburban, and over the years, I’ve come across so many things I care about beyond the stage lights,” he says. “I want to continue to diversify and develop into a man who cares about, and excels in, different ways that will help others.”
- AOL (Misery & Gin cover)
- CMT (Hurricane Relief)
- Forbes (Hurricane Relief)
- NASH Country Daily (Miranda Lambert + Red Rocks video)
- NASH Country Daily (Tall Tales & The Truth Tour)
- Pop Culture (Miranda Lambert + Red Rocks video)
- RARE Country
- Rolling Stone Country (Miranda Lambert + Red Rocks video)
- Rolling Stone Country (Meet Me Tonight video)
- Sounds Like Nashville
- Taste of Country (Miranda Lambert + Red Rocks video)
- Total Frat Move (Ideal Songs for Porch Drinking)
- Wide Open Country (Five Songs We're Listening To This Week)
- Wide Open Country (Halloween)
- Wide Open Country (New Album + Tour)
- All Access
- NASH Country Daily
- RARE Country
- Taste of Country
- The Boot
- Wide Open Country
- No Depression
- San Antonio Magazine
- Texas Monthly
- Wide Open Country
- Texas Monthly
- The Boot
- Lonestar Music Magazine
- Music Row
- Saving Country Music
- Wide Open Country
- Austin 360 (Best of 2016)
- CMT (Best of 2016)
- CMT (Q&A, Cold Beer Conversations)
- Cowboys & Indians (video)
- Cowboys & Indians (Q&A)
- Houston Press (10 Best Albums of 2016)
- Live Nation / MegaCountry (Boot Up)
- Live Nation / MegaCountry (My Favorite Lyric)
- MLB Central
- Music Row (Opry photo)
- My San Antonio (video)
- PEOPLE Country (video)
- Rolling Stone Country (2017 Tour Announcement)
- Rolling Stone Country (Album feature)
- Rolling Stone Country (Best of 2016)
- Rolling Stone Country (video)
- Rolling Stone Country (RAM Report)
- Saving Country Music (Album review)
- Southern Living
- The Washington Post (feature)
- Wall Street Journal "Speakeasy" (song premiere)
- Wide Open Country (5 Summer Road Trip Albums)
- Wide Open Country (video)