Duo come from distinguished backgrounds in entertainment
Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers can recall more than a few moments from their illustrious careers that command attention.
Among them are collaborations with some of the most iconic names in the pantheon of blues and rock, including the Doors and Jim Morrison, John Lee Hooker, X, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana and countless others.
The duo plan to conjure up spirits from their musical pasts when they appear as part of World Records’ No Stinkin’ Service Charge Blues Series at the DoubleTree Hotel on Friday, January 18.
Touring today as the Manzarek-Rogers band, the pair last appeared together in Bakersfield two years ago, and according to Rogers, their chemistry has never been stronger following their initial meeting nearly eight years ago.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people,” said Rogers, 62, who also fronts the Delta Rhythm Kings, among an extensive list of production credits that would make any blues fanatic drool. “If it’s simpatico, you explore it, pursue it. It’s really that simple.”
The Manzarek-Rogers band, featuring The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Roy Rogers, appear Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel.
For Manzarek, who continues performing with surviving Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and a host of experimental acts in the Northern California area, meeting Rogers was comparable to reuniting with an old schoolmate.
“We hit it off right away like college graduates. ‘Hey, I like your politics. I like your blues playing.’ And we were both liberals.”
The chemistry between the two resulted in a series of live tours carrying them to their most recent album, “Translucent Blues,” which Rogers said required time to ferment before it was ready for public consumption.
“Ray has a certain style of playing, so we had to play together for a while. We both agree what we have has developed into a sound that really has nothing to do with anything either of us has done before. This started as a duet, but after playing a couple of other gigs we decided to keep doing it and it eventually developed into a band. It just felt right.”
Above: The Doors
Manzarek’s classic Southern California blues rock keyboard style and the purity of Rogers guitar wizardry have blended to create plenty of signature sounds on “Translucent Blues,” especially when it comes to the album’s poetic lyrics. Incorporating verses written by the late Warren Zevon and poems by late author Jim Carroll, Rogers and Manzarek set out on an expedition to expand the reach of the blues beyond common boundaries with greater success than they anticipated.
Manzarek recalled approaching Zevon about contributing to the project during a chance meeting between the two at Barney’s Beanery, a former haunt of the Doors. But within a few minutes of their greeting, Manzarek said Zevon dropped some devastating news.
Above from left: Warren Zevon and Jim Carroll
“Warren told me he had six months to live because of lung cancer. That was pretty heavy news. I told him I was working with Roy, and we were working on a blues project that needed a twist, an edge, and I’d love for him to write something for us. Something dark about Raymond Chandler Los Angeles film noir, something about 1948, twisted L.A. politics. He said, ‘You came to the right man. Let me see what I can put together before I exit the planet.’ He gave us two stanzas — ‘Rivers of Madness, running through L.A.’ That’s Warren Zevon.”
Nearly seven years in the making before its official release two years ago, the album reflects Manzarek’s feel for lyrics, Roger said.
“A lot of those lyrics are very different from what I would write, but it’s about being comfortable with what you’re doing. In any songwriting you do with someone, it’s a give and take. Someone’s got a strong idea of where the song is going. You supply a riff, where the groove is going, changing a tempo or the bridge.”
Joining Manzarek and Rogers onstage Friday will be bassist Steve Evans and drummer Kevin Hayes. Also making a special appearance on guitar will be Manzarek’s brother Rick, who lives in Lake Isabella.
“It works out really great, because you have really great lyrics and if I do say so myself, really good musical composition from Roy and I,” Mazarek said. “The nature of what we’ve done is to try and make 21st century blues.”
Rogers said he looks forward to the return show.
“I’ve always had great gigs in Bakersfield, and there’s a great music scene there that people need to know more about.”
Fans hoping for a medley of Doors classics may be disappointed but the duo say there will be a shot of nostalgia or two; however, Manzarek nicely asks fans to keep the shout requests to a minimum and just enjoy the show.
“Yeah, it hurts me to be loved. No, it’s just great. Those are the songs they know, they love, and they’ve been listening to since, well, ‘Light My Fire’ was a number one song in July of 1967. That’s a long time ago.”
Opening the show will be Los Angeles blues guitarist Suzanne Thomas (pictured above,) and her band the Blues Church.
Manzarek-Rogers band official website
No Stinkin’ Service Charge Blues Series
with Manzarek-Rogers Band, Suzanne and the Blues Church
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 18th, 2013
Where: DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom, 3100 Camino Del Rio Court
Admission: $30 to $35
Information: 661-831-3100 or shopworldrecords.com
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Also printed in the 1-17-12 issue of The Bakersfield Californian