Episode #25 featuring Ron Rogers


Ron Rogers and Deborah Giles, rendered in oils?

Episode #25 featuring Ron Rogers

We kick off this week’s podcast with an interview with a local treasure, the great singer/songwriter/guitarist Ron Rogers. Ron and his lovely bride Deborah Giles stopped by The Helm to give us an interview and play a few tunes from Ron’s impressive catalog.

Ron is the leader of one of Portland’s finest Americana bands, The Wailing Wind, who lay down some of the most consistently gooey grooves in town. Ron’s also a terrific storyteller, and during the interview he tells how his upbringing in Texas influenced his writing, and how his years working in the music business in Los Angeles helped frame his experience playing in the Portland music scene. He also talks about the concept behind the television show he’s developing featuring some of Portland’s best musicians.

He wrapped things up by grabbing an acoustic guitar and teaming with Deborah on a couple of a very nice original tunes, showing off the excellent wordplay that is a hallmark of his songwriting. Great stuff!

Ron and Deborah stuck around The Helm for a bit after the interview as our hosts took us through another awesome playlist of great tunes, including new music from Matt Woods, Sturgill Simpson and Old 97’s, and a batch of songs from bands on the Farmageddon Records roster.

So kick back, relax and enjoy. Here’s the playlist:

Alabama Chrome, Ron Rogers and the Wailing Wind
Interview with Ron Rogers
Hang Tough live in The Helm, Ron Rogers & Deborah Giles
Slave Boy live in The Helm, Ron Rogers & Deborah Giles
Oregon Girl, Michael Dean Damron
Selfish Man, Highlonesome
Up On Blocks, 44 Long
Fall Down Easy, Uncle Tupelo
Pitchfork, My Graveyard Jaw
Wolves (Live), American Aquarium
Wichita Skyline, Drag The River
Illinois, Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats
Drinking To Forget, Matt Woods
One Of Them Days, Jake Ray
Life Of Sin, Sturgill Simpson
North, S.S. Web
Nashville, Old 97’s
Thistle-N-Thorns, The Hangdog Hearts
Friends in Bottles, The Takers

Review of Ron Rogers and the Wailing Wind


Ron Rogers And The Wailing Wind (2013, Civil Defense; www.civildefensemusic.com)

Like any great bar band, Ron Rogers and The Wailing Wind are groove merchants. They never fail to deliver that special, sneaky musical something that gets toes tapping and backsides wiggling.

And on their new, self-titled CD, they prove equally adept at capturing the groove in the recording studio. Right from the start of the first song, “Hard Working Hands,” the band settles into that fluid place where rhythm, tempo and tone melt together and begin to seep into the listener’s bloodstream.

Credit Rogers — the Portland band’s lead vocalist and guitar player — for his ability to ingrain the groove in the varied, soul-soaked Americana music he writes. There’s a swampy, gravelly, back roads quality that runs throughout his work. It’s all over this new CD, just like it was on the band’s previous release, 2011’s stunning Country & Eastern (2011).

Four songs into the new disc, it’s hard not to get lost in the hypnotic groove and excellent, southern-fried storytelling that are the hallmarks of Rogers’ work. Just then, during the later moments of “Kid Stormy Weather,” the song takes a left turn down a dream-like path paved in tremolo and delay.

From there, the listener travels into a revival world of saints, sinners, preachers and anti-heroes, where salvation awaits the wanting but where Satan is always lurking around the corner, waiting for another shot at the soul.

While the songs feature enough curious characters and musical quirks to keep listeners on their toes, the band doesn’t stray much from its signature sound, with the pedal steel guitar and Rogers’ electric holding the spotlight. On “Rad Johnny,” Rogers and steel player Dave Grafe trade licks with playful ease. All the while, drummer Chris Bond and bassist Don Campbell hold down the groove with a smart, uncluttered approach.

Several of the songs on Ron Rogers And The Wailing Wind rank among Rogers’ best. Tunes like “When My Baby Gets Down,” “Haywire” and “Soul Salvation” are instantly recognizable after just one listen and demonstrate best how a great bar band operates: lay down the groove, load up the dance floor, then burn the place down.

— Phil Favorite
That Much Further West Podcast