Randy Rogers Band: 20 Questions About the Band’s 20 Years

All About the Two Decades Since the Songwriters Circle at the Cheatham Street Warehouse

It’s been 20 years since Randy Rogers recruited some of his friends and became what is now a household name in and out of Texas: Randy Rogers Band.

“October 3, 2000 was our first ever gig as the Randy Rogers Band. I named it the Randy Rogers Band back then,” Rogers told me when he called to reflect on the two decades since. “So this is the 20 year anniversary of me jumping off that cliff, you know?”

1. Before we go back to that day in 2000 when you started the band, let’s go way, way back. To the time when you first put pen to paper to write a country song. Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

I mean, I was writing songs when I was 12 or 13. They were Christian songs. My dad was a preacher and so they were just like songs on the piano. Then I really got into country music as a young teenager, and would want my songs to sound like George (Strait) and Willie (Nelson). So I started writing these love songs, like “Leave Me Behind.” Just really sappy and cheesy. If you can imagine really bad 90’s country songs, that was me.

2. Now take me back to that first gig as the Randy Rogers Band. What made you want to put a band together in the first place?

We all met when I was playing in San Marcos, Texas at the Cheatham Street Warehouse. I was doing open mic nights on Wednesdays. The owner would mentor lots of other musicians, and he told me after about 20 songwriter nights that he would give me Tuesday nights if I could start a band. And so I started looking.

3. When you were doing the open mics there before the owner asked you to start a band, were you singing cover songs or originals?

That Songwriters Circle still goes on at the Cheatham Street Warehouse, and it is always originals only. You had to sit and listen. If you talked during someone else’s song, you’d be asked to leave. It’s a pretty serious night.

4. Those songwriter nights must’ve been such an essential part of honing your craft, because your songs are consistently so well crafted. And you always manage to find new stories to tell in your music. How do you make sure that that well never runs dry?

Well, that is the big question. I think you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Luckily in our genre, there are some traditions and pastimes that, whether you like the songs or not, those traditions are still there. And so my take on it is, if it worked for George Jones and Merle Haggard, it is probably gonna work for us. I’m not trying to change country music or change anything about the tradition of our genre. I just want to be a flag bearer and a torch carrier and pass it on. I do think I go through phases where I haven’t written anything in quite some time. I don’t think I could ever be the guy that sits in a room two times a day and writes. I kind of write out of necessity or write out of emotion. I write out of life experiences. I think that if you’re honest with yourself and you put that down on paper — and then you turn that into some beautiful song — if it’s real, then 100 percent of the time you’re going to relate to your audience.

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