If you like country, or rather the Legends of Country, then you will want to see The Talent Factory’s show by this name on Feb. 9.
Johnny Rogers of Nashville, Tenn., is bringing his singing show to Nevada for the first time.
Rogers is a fun guy to talk with about his music and his life. Now at 51 years of age, he said he started his performing career at 15. “I heard Buddy Holly sing ‘Rave On’ and a switch came on.”
In fact, Rogers said, “many people call me the reincarnation of Buddy.” Even though he has a show dedicated to Holly and other biggies of the ’50s, that’s not the show he’ll perform when he comes to Nevada. That’s likely because just a few weeks ahead of him, audiences in Nevada are being treated to Richie Lee’s Fabulous ’50s show, which features Holly and others. “Richie Lee has opened for me; he’s also a Buddy Holly fanatic,” Rogers said.
Rogers just likes to perform, no matter which show he’s bringing to an audience. “I do everything from Buddy Holly to Prince,” said Rogers, who said he grew up with music. “My father was a deejay and I’m the third cousin of Elvis Presley on my mom’s side… Music is in my blood. I am music and music is me.”
He loves singing other people’s music and also writing music of his own. “I know enough music that I could play for a month straight without a break and never repeat a song,” he said.
The Legends of Country show is one of four shows that Johnny puts on across the country. “Legends will start off with a salute to my hero, Hank Williams Sr.,” he said. “It’s early country. We’ll go into Ray Price, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, and I’ll also do some originals that I’ve written.” In all, the show features about 20 different artists.
When asked what some of his favorite songs are from the Legends of Country, he has a list of those, too. His list includes “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Move It On Over” and “Lovesick Blues.”
“From Johnny Cash, I’ll do ‘Walk the Line,’ ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ And I’ll do Nelson’s ‘On the Road Again’ and many, many more.”
A full band will come with Rogers for the show, and that band will include a father-son team out of the northeast Iowa town of Decorah. “Anywhere I play, I try to use local musicians,” he said, explaining that he puts together different band performers for different shows. “Some of those band members have a following that comes with them,” he said, explaining that he enjoys having those following other musicians at his shows.
Rogers has been coming to Iowa to perform for at least 15 years, he noted. He’s played the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, along with other venues in Waterloo, Fort Dodge, Des Moines, Decorah and more. In 2016, he was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame.
On the Hall of Fame’s website, a write-up about Rogers tells of his musical past and how much his father’s job as a radio personality, which allowed him to meet many of the great artists of the time, helped with his son’s career. “Rogers started playing lead guitar for Jimmy Nichols when he was 15. He was self-taught and learned all the styles of music. Johnny made his debut on stage at the Off Broadway Lounge. Immediately he was a big draw…”
During his career, Rogers said, he performed for four U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. “For the older Bush,” he said, “I played a barbecue right on his ranch.”
There’s no doubt that music has taken Rogers to many places and allowed him to perform for many people. And he loves everything about being a musician. “Music is a very powerful force in nature … It connects so many people … all races … people who don’t even know the language … It’s a generation gap, a nationality gap … and it moves the soul.”
Rogers said he often sees people cry during his performances, and to him, “that’s really cool. I’ve had so many people come up to me” and say that they remember hearing that song sung by its original performer. What’s really a kick, he admitted, is when they tell him he sang it better than they remembered the original. “I really like to emulate the music (of others),” he said. “I’m a much bigger fan of their music than I am of my own.”
When he thinks about coming to Nevada for the first time, Rogers said he likes that he’s coming to an old theater, because theaters are “intimate. I can go out with my fans.”
Iowa in general is a great place to perform, he said. “I love the people of Iowa. They really support the live music… And I love your corn…sweetest corn on earth.”
For more information about Johnny Rogers upcoming “Legends of Country” show and how to get tickets, visit The Talent Factory Facebook page or the website: iowatalentfactory.com.