An Old Friend And The Blues

Tony Rogers and WicastaI saw an old friend, Tony Rogers, today. He and his wife, Robin Rogers, opened up the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, and they were kind enough to put me on the guest list. It was great getting to see them on stage finally. Tony’s still one of the coolest guitar players I’ve ever known, and anybody who has heard Robin sing has to admit that saying that she “has some pipes” is an understatement. She has a strong, soulful voice that doesn’t waver. She has the kind of comfort and control that only comes with experience. As I told someone in the audience who commented on her voice, “I haven’t heard her miss a note”.
Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out their web site at; RobinRogers.com for some examples. Unlike a lot of performers, Robin sounds the same live as she does in the studio, and to me that’s always been the mark of real talent. I’m going to enjoy watching her star rise through the years.
One small aside about Robin; after they’d finished playing, Robin was in the signing area signing CDs, t-shirts and festival programs. I didn’t know if I was going to leave or stick around, and I didn’t know if Tony was going to come out and say hello (one must never assume, after all), so I got in line just say hello to her (we’d never met – she married Tony years after I’d lost contact with him). Well, a little later, after I’d chatted with Tony and was standing there talking to a new acquaintance and watching Lurrie Bell, Robin came out front and slipped her arm around me like we were old friends. I immediately knew who she was as a person. It was obvious that her’s is a warm, generous soul, and I immediately liked her.
The real joy for me in going to the festival was to get to talk with Tony after all these years. He came out after their show and talked with me a bit. It was immediately comfortable for me (I can’t speak for Tony), like we’d just seen each other a few weeks earlier instead of almost 16 years ago, and that says a lot to me about how much I’ve always held him in some esteem. When I got in touch with him a few years back, he extended the hand of friendship to me when he certainly wasn’t obligated. I mean, we played together back in the day, but it’s not like we grew up together. I’ve always valued friendships, even casual ones, and I don’t think they should be neglected. So it does mean something to me that Tony’s been willing to indulge an old acquaintance.
Well, it was great to see the Robin Rogers band live. Tony’s as great as ever. And if you’ve never heard of Robin, you will. But for me, the greatest pleasure was seeing an old friend up there on stage having fun and doing something with his music. That’s an inspiration. There were times in my life when I almost put away the music and sold all of my instruments. Now that I’m playing again and remembering what it’s like to have those proverbial wings, it fills me with pride to see an old friend like Tony out there soaring in full flight. It kinda makes me realize that there’s hope for me, yet.
I realize I’m rambling here, but I feel like I should extend a special thanks to Tony for being the man that he is. Without any obligation whatsoever, he’s nudged me through the years in what seems like an effort to give me a reason to keep that spark alive. He’s sent me two Victor Wooten books (each signed by the author – one of which was Wooten himself), and he’s sent me copies of all of the Robin Rogers CDs. I’ve been humbled by and grateful for his generosity, and I think it speaks volumes to his character that he would reach out like that to some guy he played in a band with briefly off-and-on in the early 1990’s.
So, yeah. I was happy to get to stand there in the beautiful Florida sun in Saint Petersburg on a Friday afternoon and watch Tony take flight. He’s earned it, and it was a genuine pleasure to watch. Here’s to hoping that he, and Robin, continue to soar for many, many years to come. I, for one, will be watching with a big grin on my face.

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