In 16 years, the Randy Rogers Band has played more than 2,000 shows, first in Texas, then branching out across the country. That means the veteran band is prepared for anything that could happen every time it takes the stage.
“There’s not much you can throw at us that we haven’t seen,” Rogers said. “Power outages, lightning strikes, fights, getting hit by a beer can, nobody at the show, too many people at the show. There’s not much that fazes the band or our crew.”
And it also means that the band continues to enjoy what it’s doing each time the guitars are picked up and the drums pounded.
“We’ve kept it fun,” Rogers said. “We still have fun on stage. It’s kind of cliche to say that, but it’s true. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?”
The music Rogers plays has been tagged many ways. But he’s got a single word for it — country — as in true country, not pop country, bro country, Red Dirt country or any other kind of country.
“I’ve realized it’s an ongoing battle,” Rogers said of his claim to country. “We’re happy to be part of it. People call us Texas country and other things. I’d really be proud to just be called country music and back that up.”
Embracing true country puts Rogers in league with the likes of fellow Texan Aaron Watson and Nashville’s newest sensation, Chris Stapleton.
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“I wouldn’t begin to compare myself to Chris, that’s impossible, but we have the same interest,” Rogers said. “ ... I’ll second the motion to say there shouldn’t be rap in country music. But I will go on the record saying I like Kendrick Lamar. I like my rap. But when I think of country music, I think of Merle Haggard.
“That’s been the music from day one with this band,” he said. “We grew up on fiddle and steel in Texas. We learned to play guitar from Willie Nelson records. It’s part of the fabric of who we were. You can’t take that out.”
That said, Rogers admits that not all of the band’s songs have been country, pointing to “You Could Change My Mind” from 2006’s “Just a Matter of Time” and some cuts from 2002’s “Rollercoaster.”
That’s not the case with the current Randy Rogers Band album, “Nothing Shines Like Neon.”
“They’re straight country. I say that with respect. George Strait is my biggest hero,” he said.
Strait has held that special spot for Rogers since he was a kid growing up in Cleburne, Texas. “In the sixth grade, I had the black hat and the shirt and we’d go around playing all the oprys in Texas,” he said.
By we, Rogers also means the Randy Rogers Band, which played its first shows in 2000 and has had the same members since 2002. How does a band stay together that long?
“We split everything,” Rogers said. “We’re a big family. We’ve done it since the beginning. Everybody has a say in the record. Everybody gets the same pay. When we started, everybody was single. Now everyone’s married and we’ve got like 10 kids on the ground and we just keep going.”
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The Randy Rogers Band released its first album in 2002, and after “Rollercoaster,” got signed to Universal Records. After nearly a decade, the band left Universal following the release of 2013’s “Trouble.” Rogers said going independent gives him more control over his career. That also means Rogers has to do things like a radio promotion tour for “Nothing Shines Like Neon.”
“This is the music business part of it — going out and sharing your music with people who haven’t heard it, going around trying to get radio stations to come on board and then playing the shows,” Rogers said. The band will headline an outdoor music festival June 22 at the First Avenue Club in Iowa City.
WHAT: Randy Rogers Band, with openers Ashley McBryde and Ben Rue
WHERE: First Avenue Club, 1550 S. First Ave., Iowa City
WHEN: 5 p.m. June 22; gates open at 4:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $22, general admission, Firstavenueclub.com/events/
EXTRAS: Outdoor festival, rain or shine; chairs allowed, but not within 50 feet of the stage
BAND WEBSITE: Randyrogersband.com