Mark Bennett: With a soul full of music, Marc Rogers of Terre Haute returns in his new memories | News chronicles
One Saturday evening, musical friends from the past and present of Marc Rogers joined him and his family group on stage.
These musicians and other Rogers relatives and friends took to the banquet hall at Rick’s Smokehouse & Grill on Wabash Avenue to celebrate the release of Rogers’ new autobiography, “Life With My Guitar: A Musician’s Memoir.” The format of the show corresponded to the book. Its 161 pages are reminiscent of when Rogers was lead guitarist in Nashville studios and classic venues like the Grand Ole Opry in support of country music icons like “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Kitty Wells, Porter Wagoner, Jim Ed. Brown, Skeeter Davis and others. .
His memoir also reflects Rogers’ musical training years in his hometown of Terre Haute, spent learning and honing his skills alongside local singers and instrumentalists including his late father, Sonny Rogers.
Many of these local musicians returned to the stage on Saturday night with the Marc Rogers Band – Rogers and Sons, guitarist Marcus Rogers and drummer John Rogers, and Marc’s daughter-in-law, Emilee Rogers. They went through a list of country and rock hits for three hours.
“I appreciated it,” he said on Wednesday. “Even though I was part of it, I felt like I was outside, when all these great musicians came to play and sing.”
This is essentially the setting for his memoir, although it should be noted that Rogers himself has distinguished himself as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Some of its 33 chapters took place in Terre Haute. Others detail his years on the Nashville circuit, from 1976 to 1994. In the latter case, he introduced then-teenage guitarist and fellow Terre Haute native, JT Corenflos, to Music City insiders in 1982. Corenflos is later became one of Nashville’s most sought-after session musicians, until his death in October 2020. Rogers also recounts his own recording session experiences, including an audition for a gospel album produced by Porter Wagoner. When Rogers, barely 19, finished his first song, Wagoner shook his head teasingly, before laughing and telling the kid he got the job.
“It was a collection of stories spanning many years, and it’s great to see it all in one book,” Rogers said, noting that his son, John, helped compile it. “The majority were things that were special to me, and things readers would find intriguing and interesting.”
“Life With My Guitar” also features humor and irony.
One episode involves Rogers going “fishing” with “Little” Jimmy Dickens. During a tour, the group’s chronically failing bus breaks down again. While waiting for repairs, Jimmy led his young guitarist – with their fishing rods in hand – up a roadside hill. With no water in sight, Jimmy asked Marc to join him in pretending to pick up big catches from a drainage ditch, causing confused motorists to stop and watch.
More than two decades later and back in Terre Haute, Rogers decided to fulfill a long-held desire to learn classical guitar. He enrolled in a course at Indiana State University under the direction of Brent McPike, then a freshman instructor, now a friend of Marc and his colleague Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Famer. At 43, Rogers – who had played in soccer stadiums – found himself a bundle of nerves and excitement during his ISU class student recital.
A poignant chapter traces the summer night of 1984, when Rogers, his father, drummer and bassist replaced the regular group in a nightclub in Terre Haute. The evening turned horrific when a gunman shot and killed Marc’s father, Sonny Rogers, an off-duty policeman from Terre Haute. Years later, as the chapter explains, Marc developed a friendship with Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor from Terre Haute who forgave the Nazis who tortured her in an Auschwitz concentration camp. Kor, who died in 2019, inspired Rogers to forgive his father’s murderer.
“It was the most difficult chapter,” Rogers said Wednesday. As heartbreaking as these passages are, they still don’t deviate from Rogers’ “half-full glass” approach to writing the book.
“This story even came out with a triumphant ending,” he said. “It led to an incredible friendship with Eva.” His message of forgiveness may not be for everyone, Rogers admits.
“I realize that for a lot of people, in their situations, they could never forgive,” he said, “but it worked for me, as it did for Eva. It was a difficult chapter to write. , but it was a chapter that had to be written. You know, I was playing guitar that night, and it’s been a part of my life. “
Now 63, Rogers hopes readers of the book will feel encouraged to heal and move on. He thinks his father “would be really proud” that Marc and his wife, Barbie, came out of this tragedy and raised their family in Terre Haute, just like his father did. Last Saturday evening, the fruit of this perseverance manifested itself in a joyful three-hour tribute to the musical life that Rogers presents in his new memoirs. Sons Marcus and John performed brilliantly with Marc, as professional musicians, while stepdaughters Emilee and Kaylee respectively played bass and took photos. Barbie, also Marc’s longtime collaborator, watched from the crowds with more family and friends.
They closed with the catchy title track from Rogers’ 1994 album, “This Country Boy Rocks”. His words “the music is in my soul” was obvious to the audience, and will be obvious to the readers of “Life With My Guitar”.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or [email protected]