Northern Journey Online

Garnet Rogers

(Contemporary; Guitar; Singer-Songwriter)

"The narratives of singer/guitarist Garnet Rogers bore down upon you like a brisk winter wind, tingling your soul long after they're passed"--Performing Songwriter. Raised in and around Hamilton, Ontario, Garnet Rogers may be Canada's quintessential folksinger-songwriter. An excellent musician who performed with his brother Stan for many years before embarking on an independent musical career, Garnet has a fine, strong voice and an uncanny ear for talent.

His debut album, Garnet Rogers, features Roy Forbes' "Woh Me," Doug McArthur's "Break the Law" and "Black Eyed Susan," Willie P. Bennett's "Music In Your Eyes," Connie Kaldor's "Bird on A Wing," and Archie Fisher's "Final Trawl." This is an album that wears well. The Outside Track features Ralph McTell's "Gypsy Song," Doug McArthur's "Ain't Goin' Home," James Keelaghan's "Jenny Bryce," Henry Lawson's "The Outside Track," Rod MacDonald's "American Jerusalem," Archie Fisher's "Denbrae," and Enoch Kent's "The Farm Auction." It also includes some original tunes by Rogers--the start of a successful songwriting career.

Speaking Softly in the Dark continues in the same vein as The Outside Track with Rogers covering songs by other songwriters and adding a bit of his own to the mix. Highlights of the album include Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Goodbye Again," and Phil Ochs' "Crucifixion." This time around, the formula was not quite as gripping--it was time for Rogers to move on, which he did on his next release.

Small Victories may be Rogers' most popular album. While it includes a few covers, such as "The King of Rome" by David Sudbury, this is the first album that is really Rogers' own. His songwriting bursts out all over on memorable tracks like "Small Victory," "One More Ride," "His Father's House," "Stars in Their Crown," "Off the Rails" and "Sleeping Buffalo."

By At a High Window (1992), Rogers has developed the voice and style that characterizes his concert performances today. Confident and sure, Rogers delivers his songs with a mix of acoustic and electric arrangements. He has also developed the knack of writing long songs, such as the beautiful twelve-minute classic, "A Row of Small Trees." Other highlights include "Through the Cracks," "At a High Window," and "Election Night: North Dakota."

Summer Lightning (1994) was recorded live at Annie and Carl Grindstaff's house concert in London, Ontario and at the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill, Ontario. The ambiance is warm and intimate and Rogers performs a fine mix of covers and original material. New Rogers' songs on this album include "The Beauty Game," "What's Wrong With This Picture," "Frankie and Johnny," "Let Me Count the Ways," and "Summer Lightning."

To the possible distress of older fans Night Drive (1996) is unlike any previous Garnet Rogers recording. It is electric, driving, sassy and riveting. The way to listen to Night Drive is to turn up the volume and let it rock. The album carries the usual Garnet Rogers stamp: excellent covers mixed with excellent original material. Rogers has an uncanny knack for choosing an unusual, effective piece and transforming it into an memorable performance. And, as always, new Garnet Rogers songs are events in themselves. This album has many such events.

At the risk of unintentionally downplaying Garnet's fine voice and songwriting, Night Drive could be called a "guitar" album. It's about electric guitars, slide guitars, and acoustic guitars. Anyone who's been to a Rogers concert recently will testify that Garnet has developed into one of the finest singer-instrumentalists on the folk circuit. Garnet switches between guitars and styles from track to track, laying down rock riffs, bluesy slides, and filigreed acoustic finger picking in an inspiring display of versatility.

One of the outstanding releases of 1996, Night Drive is a worthwhile addition to any folk collection, and it's one that can be enjoyed by a very broad audience. If you know any teens or young adults who claim they don't like folk music, spin this one for them. Better yet, take them to a Garnet Rogers concert.

Garnet Rogers *
1984 Snow Goose (SGS-1111CD)
Woh Me; Break the Law; Music in Your Eyes; Carrickfergus/Final Trawl; Westlin Winds; Black Eyed Susan; Bird on a Wing; Farewell to Music; Thanksgiving Eve 46:07

The Outside Track
1986 Snow Goose (SGS 1113CD)
Gypsy Song; Green Eyes; Ain't Goin' Home; Jenny Bryce; The Outside Track; American Jerusalem; Denbrae; The Farm Auction; Blind Mary; Archie Gets a Leg Up; John O'Dreams 45:07

Speaking Softly in the Dark
1988 Snow Goose (SGS 1115 D)
Dear Grandfather; The Sliprails and the Spur; McArthur's Farewell to the West; The Enfolding; Like a Diamond Ring; Hallelujah! (The Great Storm Is Over); Goodbye Again; Lament for Henry Chapin; Crucifixion; After All 44:37

Small Victories *
1990 Snow Goose (SGS 1117)
The King of Rome; Small Victory; One More Ride; His Father's House; Stars in Their Crown; Off the Rails; One Bullet; Sleeping Buffalo; The Lost Ones; For Herself 59:04

At a High Window
1992 Snow Goose (SGS 1121CD)
Through the Cracks; Come from the Heart; Last of the Working Stetsons; At a High Window; Willie Short; The Joy of Living; Young Willie; A Row of Small Trees; Election Night: North Dakota 53:47

Summer Lightning *
1994 Snow Goose (SGS1123CD)
Give the Fiddler a Dram; The Beauty Game; This Shirt; What's Wrong with This Picture; Frankie and Johnny; Let Me Count the Ways; Sleeping Buffalo; Sammy's Bar; A Row of Small Trees; The Outside Track; Summer Lightning; The King of Rome; O'Neil's Dream 66:33

Night Drive
1996 Snow Goose (SGS1125)
Jesus and Elvis; Never So Lonely; Seeds of Hope (The Last March); Roman Coin; Corrinna, Corrinna; Love's Been Linked to the Blues; Phone Booth; Colliertown; Golden Fields; Borealis (Instrumental); Night Drive 59:19

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Copyright © 1999, Gene Wilburn,