When the Randy Rogers Band's last project debuted as the most-downloaded country album on iTunes, plenty of the industry "insiders" on Music Row were left scratching their heads: Who are these guys?
But San Marcos already knew.
Rogers had developed a following in this town after he played open mic nights, impressing club owner Kent Finlay enough to offer Rogers his own regular night, as long as he found a band to back him. That group might have taken his name, but Rogers—who'd had previous experiences as a guitar player in another band—had no interest in being just a one-man show.
"I always wanted everybody to be equal, not only financially but also input-wise and creatively," Rogers said. "When we started the band, I pledged to them that I would work every day as hard as I could and try to get us down the highway a little further if they would sign up with me and share in some of those sacrifices, and I think from that day on, everybody pretty much quit their alternative jobs, and kinda gave 110 percent to the band."
The Randy Rogers Band took the same slot that George Strait and the Ace In The Hole band had once occupied at Cheatham Street, appropriate since the band used the same sort of inner motivation in building its sound as Strait did a generation ago.
Their music is hardly the same. In contrast to Strait's pure-country aesthetics, RRB combines that traditional country sound with a rollicking, swagger influenced by rugged sounds from such diverse sources as Waylon Jennings and Stone Temple Pilots. But, as Finlay recognized, there's an authenticity and honesty to the band that parallels Strait's personal manifesto.
"In a way, George was a little bit out of the box for Nashville when he debuted," Rogers said. "I think George Strait, when he first hit town, he knew who he was, and I think that's partly why he has been so successful throughout his career. If there's a correlation between the two of us, I think that we definitely have a sound and we know who we are."
The Nashville elite may not have known about the five-piece band, but much of America already did. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them alongside such artists as U2 and the Stones in its list of Top 10 Must-See Artists in the summer of 2007. They earned $2.5 million—a staggering total for a still developing act—on the tour circuit in a single year. Willie Nelson, the Eagles, Gary Allan and Dierks Bentley all picked them as opening acts for their concerts. And more than 2,200 people showed up and bought the bands album at an appearance at Wherehouse Music. The fans' exuberance was shared by USA Today, which praised the band for having "loads of grit, swagger and heart."
The Randy Rogers Band built its audience by combining forces: It's a dynamic live act centered around songs that fit the rowdy, party vibe of the concert circuit, but their songs also say something.
Stoney Larue will open for the Randy Rogers Band this weekend at the new Central Texas Speedway in Kyle. Doors open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m.
To purchase tickets go to www.centexspeedway.com .