Friends and Craftsmen

IMAG0226Recently enjoyed an evening of original IMAG0227songs by friends Jim Pipkin and Eric Laubach. They played sets in rotation for quite some time at Cup-O-Karma cafe in Mesa, AZ. where all the proceeds go to support women’s shelters in the Phoenix area. We drove up to listen as long as we thought our dogs could bear.  It was great fun. I want to tip my hat to Brian Abernethy who played the Bodhran (a Celtic drum). He cracked me up when he said “I play in two keys: Thump and Whack”.

IMAG0235Next Tip-O-the-Hat goes to Rainbow Guitars in Tucson (2550 N. Campbell Ave), specifically to Josh Rondstadt who did a wonderful job returning the neck and fret board of my beloved Taylor guitar to pristine condition (and repaired the electronics too). I first called Taylor Guitars in California to find my nearest authorized repair shop and they recommended Josh, who had once worked at the Taylor factory and was now with Rainbow.  Of course, I asked Josh if he was related to the Rondstadt family, famous in Tucson for their musical contributions to the city and the world, and he said YES! Turns out Josh’s dad is my friend Bobby Rondstadt.

Josh, I want to thank you for doing such a superb job repairing and  resetting my Taylor Guitar. You are a true craftsman!

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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New Song about the Song Industry

I just made a rough home recording of a new song.  It started with a conversation between me and singer-songwriter Lani Nash about a year ago. Lani has been writing and singing songs around Nashville for some time and agreed with me when I said that it seemed every song out of Nashville these days was about drinking. Lani said yes, it seems that if you want to get attention in Nashville, you’d better write about Beer or Jesus.

Well that in itself sounded like a song title to me: “Beer or Jesus” – a new hit song from the folks who brought you “Drunk on a Plane”, “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer”, “Beer Money” and other uplifting tunes! (you get my point)

My friend Alan James, another singer-songwriter, once pointed out that when we play in bars we are just the “Loss Leader” for beer sales. We’re the product a bar owner is willing to lose money on in order to sell more beer.

Then, just a few months ago, I was flipping cable channels and found a Nashville songwriter’s showcase hosted by Luke Bryan. There were 4 or 5 other songwriters there and one by one, they each played their “hit” song. Guess what.  EVERY SONG was about drinking! Maybe the CMA is just a marketing division of Anheuser-Busch.

So, I had to do it. I had to write the song. it’s called “Nashville Hit Song Illuminati” and you can hear it on my ReverbNation page here:

After hearing this tune,  my brother-in-law, Scott Tatina, shared this photo:SweetBabyJesusBeer

I guess that about wraps it up.

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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Song Circle with Ladies of Nashville

We had a fun time last night here in Casa Grande. The schedules of two touring singer-songwriters, Lani Nash and Yosi Mesbah, both friends of mine, happened to converge here in Arizona. My bride and I welcomed both ladies from Nashville to our home and we hosted a song circle which included me.  We invited a few neighbors and friends to join us and about 20 folks came to enjoy the show. We had a great time.  And we included a cameo performance by Aaron Anderson, a High School student who lives across the street (wonderful neighbors). He has a great voice and the ladies enjoyed harmonizing with him into the late evening.

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I’m really taken with the singing voices of these two wonderful songwriters – clear, clean and strong.  They will play a concert tonight at the Desert Rose Baha’i Institute in Eloy, AZ (about 12 miles from here) and I expect there will be a great turn-out. If you can make it, please do. The show is free, but you’ll certainly want to buy a few CDs!

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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After Festival Report

The 30th Tucson Folk Festival was a blast.  But then, so have been the six prior festivals of which I have been privileged to be part.  The best thing about the festival is seeing old friends whom I get to see and hear play so relatively rarely. It’s like a folk singer’s family reunion – but with relatives you actually ENJOY (just sayin’).


Michael Darryl Parker & Rick Heyman

At the top of the enjoyment list has to be performing with my band-mates Rick Heyman and Michael Darryl Parker. Rick is a musician’s musician. His ear for a melodic bass line is wonderful. Michael recently acquired a new drum kit and spent time tuning the heads specifically for resonance with my songs. He really loves playing that new kit and added such precise power to every song we did.  After the show, a performer I greatly admire, Laney Greynolds (of JC & Laney), remarked “you should tie a line on that drummer and NEVER let him go!”. Another performer I respect greatly, Eric Ramsey, said that the band really brought my songs alive.  It was great to see JC & Laney perform and Eric Ramsey too. And I enjoyed seeing Dan Weber again.

Each year at the TFF, I’m like a kid in a candy store. With five stages of continuous music (10 hours per day) it is impossible to see and hear all you want. But it is certainly possible to get all you need because every stage had stellar acts.  Don Armstrong’s set was particularly impressive. Don writes exquisite songs (as did his late wife Victoria) and he performed with a crew of some of the best musicians in town.  I was delighted to see and hear Tom and Priscilla Bertling perform as “Smootmahooty”. Their vocals are delicious.  The Determined Luddites are a must for me and Deb.  There’s just something about (in their own words) their “Original acoustic music for the sophisticated urban hillbilly” and “Apocalyptic gospel, fast folk, careening instrumentals, punk heart Songs about dope, guns, exes, saints, and sinners in the dystopian paradise of Baja Arizona” that makes me want to BE THERE. And it sure is fun when both Peter McLaughlin AND Kevin Schramm join the team. Peter is a world class Guitar flat-picker and Kevin, what can I say, no man gets more out of an accordion than Kevin Schramm. A delight to watch.

And we enjoyed some acts we hadn’t seen before as well. Singer Songwriter Jed Marum was really good in the songwriter’s contest as was Kelly Brightwell and Jen Hajj (who won). And the band “Dash Pocket” played a ripping set that even had a dog dancing (had to be there).

I will leave you with some photos we took. I encourage everyone to make plans to attend next year’s Tucson Folk Festival – the first weekend in May.


Jed Marum


Dan Weber


Eric Ramsey


kiko and the stone avenue band


Wayback Machine


Yours truly, Darrell Elmer Rodgers


Eb’s Camp Cookin


JC & Laney (Kick off Party)


Darrell Elmer Rodgers Trio


Wind Damage


Way Out West with help from Summerdog


JC & Laney – Plaza Stage


Tom Chapin – Plaza Stage


I was Plaza Stage EmCee on Sunday introducing Sandy Hathaway


Eric Schaffer & The Other Troublemakers (quite good)


Smootmahooty (Tom & Priscilla Bertling)


Dash Pocket


Don Armstrong (with: Michael Markowitz, Bobby Ronstadt, Nick Coventry, Jim Lipson, Don Armstrong and Slim Rost)


Don Armstrong (that’s Michael G. Rondstadt on cello)


The Arnold/Klingenfus Ensemble


The Determined Luddites


The Determined Luddites


Kevin Schramm!


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mid-Festival UPdate

Man! What a show!  We rocked the house on the Museum stage yesterday. It felt great. We got a standing-O!IMG_3933IMG_3951

This festival has been epic and it’s only half-way through! Last night’s headline line-up included our friends JC & Laney as well as Grammy-winner Tom Chapin, local Tucson acoustic duo Ryanhood and our national headliner, Ray Wylie Hubbard.  There’s still plenty of great music to hear, so anyone withing driving distance of Tucson should get down here today and enjoy!

We had an incredible micro-burst wind storm Saturday that looked almost life-threatening. It ripped awnings of their frames and toppled instruments and mic stands. Had it not been for the tie-down ropes, the main stage canopy would have taken flight.  We shut down power and covered equipment and waited

But in a rare moment of Tucson Folk Festival pioneer spirit, Way Out West decided they would do their set “unplugged” and standing down in the audience area. It was spectacular! The energy was palpable and joined by a number of other stellar musicians, they blew us away.  IMG_3980

This is not the first time Way Out West has said :”the show must go on”.  A few years ago, they did the same think at the La Cocina stage during a rain storm.

We will be back there today enjoying the show.  Smootmahooty performs at 2:30 on the La Cocina stage.


Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
Posted in Events, Folk, General Conversation, Guitars, Music, Music BUSINESS, Music Performance, songwriter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gettin’ Ready (for the Tucson Folk Festival)

OK, the TRIO (that’s Me, Rick Heyman on bass and Michael Parker on drums) has rehearsed a few tunes and we’ll run through them again before the Tucson Folk Festival just to be sure. I feel very confident that we will deliver a good sound for you. We play at 3-PM on Saturday May 2, on the “Museum of Art Stage”.  That’s on the patio behind the museum. We’ve played there several times before. It’s a good spot.


If you have not yet been to the Tucson Folk Festival in years past, this will be a perfect opportunity to catch up on the fun. This will be the festival’s 30TH year!  And the all-volunteer staff from the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association (TKMA) tells me it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. A BUNCH of my friends will be performing on the FIVE stages in and around El Presidio Park. You can find the schedules for each day and performer Bios here:

There will be some really good Headliners there as well. On Saturday evening Ray Wylie Hubbard will perform, preceded by both the famous Tom Chapin and Ryanhood (two AZ fellas that really rock) as well as my dear friends JC & Laney – a treat for the ears!

On Sunday, our “Local” Headliner is Ronstadt Generations (yes, Linda’s family), preceded by I Hear Voices with some exquisite four-part harmonies by some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet in Tucson.

So make a plan now to be there!  Just be sure to catch the Darrell Elmer Rodgers Trio at 3PM on Saturday!

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
Posted in Events, Folk, General Conversation, Guitars, Music, Music Performance, songwriter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good-bye dear Joseph

11146536_1638606803026331_4708391054744627977_nYesterday, 15 April, in Trnava Slovakia, a brilliant man was buried. Joseph Roy Sheppherd, was an Anthropologist, and Archaeologist, an author of many wonderful books, and one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the joy to know. He was also the first person to ever commission a song from me.  He was a brilliant story-teller and his years spent in rain forests and and among indigenous peoples the world over gave him a seemingly bottomless bag full of tales to tell. He was a wayfarer, in search of the sacred.

I first met Joseph and his wonderful wife Jan at Bosch Baha’i School in the fall of 2003 and they invited me to join them at their home in Bend Oregon the following February to provide music for a special study of The Bab, and Baha’u’llah – two holy beings of the Baha’i Faith. I flew to Portland and drove past the base of Mt. Hood and arrived in Bend a day early. Joseph had prepared some special visual aids for the session. He had a local craftsman reproduce a neck shackle just like the one Baha’u’llah and other early believers wore during their imprisonment.  He also had leg-stocks, made from a log, like the device used on the early Babi prisoners.  He had acquired some chain segments for display just to let us feel the tremendous weight that was once borne by our Lord’s neck.013_11A

Jan and Joseph moved to Slovakia in 2008 (I think) and Joseph began researching old folk tales of the region and working on a book in which to collect them. In August of 2009, Joseph asked me if I would help him by writing a song to go with the stories he would write. The first was called “The Vodnik” – about an underwater shape-shifting creature who emerge from the lake at noon or at midnight to capture the souls of children. I couldn’t say no, I had to try. I sent him a recording of “The Vodnik” later in the fall and he played it for some Slovak youth. You can hear it here:   He said “they loved it”, but more importantly, they were touched that an American, half a world away, would want to write a song about their cultural heritage. That was the real reward. That was the “sacred” treasure.

wayfarersGuideCoverThat was Joseph’s real talent: Bringing the sacred home.  His book “The Wayfarer’s Guide to Bringing the Sacred Home” was among the first Baha’i books distributed by the Baha’i Publishing Trust through commercial bookstores.

I am going to miss him severely. But I am not alone. The man had over 4,000 Facebook friends, and I dare say he likely had actually met most of them. Stories written by him, and ABOUT him will be told and retold for years to come. And a good number of them will be true!

I think he has left us way too soon. But when the wayfarer is called home, he must go.  From “The Hidden Words” by Baha’u’llah:

Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved.
(Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

God Bless and keep you Joseph in the palm of His hand.

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
Posted in General Conversation, songwriter | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments