Local bluesman finds strange bedfellows
By Greg Cahill
Bluesman Roy Rogers is no stranger to unusual musical collaborations. In 1990, the Novato-based acoustic guitarist--who was largely responsible for ushering John Lee Hooker's Grammy-winning comeback--joined Hooker, jazz trumpet great Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and others on the Delta-driven film score to The Hot Spot.
Hooker and Davis simmered above Rogers' red-hot slide guitar licks in a winning combination that drew critical raves. Now Rogers is teaming up with bassist and vocalist Jason Newsted of Metallica and drummer and percussionist Carl Coletti of neo-flamenco star Ottmar Liebert's band in the fledgling trio Heard of EleMEnts.
Newsted, who lives in Walnut Creek, joined Metallica in 1986 after the death of bassist Cliff Burton. He left that band in 2001 citing "the physical damage I've done to myself playing the music I love." In last year's revealing documentary Some Kind of Monster (in which Metallica hires a therapist to guide them through the control issues that were ripping the band apart), Newsted claims that he left because guitarist James Hetfield refused to allow his bandmates to participate in side projects. In 2004, Metallica selected Ozzy Osbourne bassist Robert Trujillo to replace Newsted; Ozzy then tapped Newsted to join him that year for the Ozzfest tour.
Coletti has recorded with Newsted's Chophouse labelmates Godswallop, which since 1997 has blazed the trail for Latin-flavored heavy metal.
Thus far, the new trio--which can be previewed on Rogers' website (www.roy-rogers.com) and the Chophouse Records site--have written and recorded a handful of hook-laden metal songs, laced with crisp beats and stinging slide riffs, that sound quite unlike anything Rogers has done over the past 15 years. It's a real leap for an artist known as a low-key showman.
Meanwhile, Rogers has released his first live CD of straight-ahead Delta-blues, aptly titled Live at the Sierra Nevada Big Room (Chops Not Chaps), featuring Sonoma County harmonica ace Norton Buffalo and vocalist Shana Morrison.
Rogers, who has been on a tour of Europe during the past few weeks, performs Sunday, July 17, at 4pm with his Delta Kings at Rancho Nicasio's popular BBQ on the Lawn series. On the Square, Nicasio. $17$20. 415.662.2219.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, featuring their strongest lineup in a decade, performs Thursday, July 14, at 8pm at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $25 and $30. . . . Texas troubadour Joe Ely, with Joel Guzman, rides into the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma on Wednesday, July 13, at 8pm. Tickets are $20. . . . On Saturday, July 16, Marin County artist Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks bring their Western-swing-inflected Americana to the Petaluma venue at 8pm. Tickets are $22. . . . Local favorites Chrome Johnson, celebrated as the new kings of twang, return from their first national tour with Los Straitjackets to rock 19 Broadway on Saturday, July 16 at 9:30pm. Tickets are $12. . . . Veteran L.A. punk band the Circle Jerks--formed in 1979 by Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetson--fire up the mosh pit on Wednesday, July 27, when they thrash the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma at 8pm. Tickets are $17. . . . New Orleans R&B piano whiz John Cleary and his band the Absolute Monster Gentlemen turn up the heat Wednesday, July 27, at Sweetwater Saloon in Mill Valley at 9pm. Tickets are $19.
Spin Du Jour
Various Artists, 'Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War of the Worlds' (Columbia/Legacy)
Twenty-five years before Steven Spielberg remade H. G. Wells' sci-fi tale of extraterrestrial terror, producer Jeff Wayne gathered the cream of the crop of '70s British rock (including David Essex, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy) and, with actor Richard Burton providing most of the narration, created a rock opera based on War of the Worlds. Newly reissued as both a two-disc hybrid SACD featuring 5.1 surround sound and a hefty six-CD (plus one DVD documenting the making of the project) collector's edition, there's no getting around the dated sound of the prog-rock/classical blend. But if you can bear the disco-charged overture, the bombastic synths and the other time-worn techniques, this is a rock artifact that fans of classic rock will want to hear. Burton's hypnotic narration alone is worth the price of admission.
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From the July 13-19, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.