Quick Q and A with Garnet Rogers

Garnet Rogers asked me to edit this to make him more human and likable.  Whoa!  This man is one of the most human and likable musician I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet and I told him that there was no need for editing. 

 Garnet Rogers is a presence.  He’s a skyscraper of a man; his baritone voice is a mighty instrument and his guitar playing is impeccably pure.  He sings and plays with conviction.  It’s impossible not to be moved by his music.  Give it a listen.

 

For more information about Garnet Rogers, check out his website.

He’ll be playing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on November 9.

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 We understand that you’re writing a book about your life as a musician.  Can we assume that there’s a large portion of your book that is devoted to “on the road” tales of you and your brother, Stan?

 Yeah, the book is largely about life as we knew it on the road back in the 70’s and 80’s..how naive and stupid we were, trying to play folk music — as we understood the term — in places where it was never played and for people who didn’t want to hear it…the only thing that saved us was the fact that we were both large and were able to beat up on members of the audience who objected. We were young and scared and foolish…bad business model.

 Are there any similarities between writing non-fiction narrative and songwriting?

 There are differences and similarities between the two forms of writing. All writing needs to have a rhythm which is part of the reason I have been reading bits of the book out loud. It helps with the editing process, and allows me to determine if the thing has what an Irish friend of mine calls “skip and flit.”

 As Mark Twain said, the only difference between fiction and history is that fiction has to be believable. My memoir, I think is hard to believe sometimes but it is all true.

 Stan’s songs were more traditional Canadian Maritime type songs.  Did you make a deliberate attempt not to copy his style?  Or did you just naturally gravitate to a more soulful bluesy rock and roll style?

 I basically just write whatever comes along. I listened to a lot more varied music than Stan did I think. He was not a big fan of electric music but the Maritime traditional sound we developed was a response to partly the market and partly simply due to the commissions we were given by the CBC. We did a lot of soundtrack work for radio dramas and a lot of it was in Halifax. It just got out of control.

 After the first record came out we were largely pigeonholed into being Maritme artists and that was not what we sounded like before the first album. We were a lot closer to Elton John and Dan Fogelberg, if you can believe it…

 Stan really wanted to explore different styles. Had he lived, I think he would have gone in a very different direction with his writing.

 Is it true that after Stan’s passing, that you were unable to come to the United State to tour and that Odetta came to your aide?  Tell us how that all came about.

 Yeah, Odetta did help.  Bless her. She was approached by Widdie Hall at the Folkway when my visa was turned down, and she stepped in to add gravitas to the petition. God help the State Department official who tried to say no to Odetta. She was a force of nature.

Do you have any favorite new musicians you’ve discovered lately?

 I haven’t heard much lately that made me sit up and take notice and swoon. I find within the folk world a lot of stuff gets recycled every six to ten years and I have been around a long time I have kind of heard it all before.

 I’m always impressed by anything which sounds like it would exist whether people are listening or not and not being made with an eye to the market. Some stuff sounds a wee bit on the calculated side to me sometimes..but that’s just me There are lots of people whose music just kills me, but they have largely been around for at least a couple years — Susan Werner consistently  makes me swoon. I love Natalia Zukerman, Chris Smither, Greg Brown, Ani, and others but they have been around for a bit There is a lovely trio from Newfoundland called The Once. I like them a lot — beautiful harmonies and arrangements. But again, they have been doing it for a while. I like Dave Gunning a lot — both musically and personally. He is the real deal on every level.

 Any plans for a new recording any time soon?

 No plans for a new record beyond perhaps a book CD interspersed  with music. I have been getting requests for that.. But that is a long way away…maybe 2014.

 I continue to write songs but time has been in short supply of late. The last two years have been largely taken up with helping my parents. It is only been in the last couple of months that things have loosened up and I am exhausted. I hope to get back to it on a more regular basis soon..

 

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