Who says South Florida has no soul? Certainly not Bobby Lee Rodgers or his fans. With his unique mix of jazz, rock, and funk, the musician not only writes his own songs, but puts an original spin on the tunes of former musical legends Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Mess Montgomery at Fort Lauderdale's Green Room once a month.
Before becoming a guitar toting, blues crooning rock star, Rodgers studied classical and jazz guitar at the University of Georgia. Upon graduating, he embarked to Boston and became a jazz studies instructor at the esteemed Berklee College of music at the ripe young age of 23. Not surprisingly, he earned the title of one of the youngest instructors in that field.
Despite his effectual career as a teacher, it was apparent that performing was the lifestyle that really tickled Roger's fancy.
"I love teaching," says Rodgers. "But I needed to see the world. Someday I hope to teach again and share what I've learned." Soon, he formed the Codetalkers with Bruce Hampton.
Fast-forward five years later, and Rodgers performed his first solo concert at the Wanee Music Festival in Live Oak in 2009. Ten thousand people were present. Surprisingly, Rogers was only a little nervous, stating that when he "started to play, it was like riding a bike."
On the topic of being nervous before concerts, Rogers remarks, "I've never been nervous because of the amount of people. I've only been that way when I'm not prepared. And I tend to never let that be the case!"
Perhaps it was the combination of his lack of nerves and musical talent that ensured him slots to play yet again at Wanee Festival from 2010 to the present.
Rodgers has gigged with big names like Widespread Panic and was slotted to open for George Clinton earlier this year. He'll perform at the New Times sponsored Swamp Stomp at Tobacco Road this weekend, soon to add Fishbone and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds to that ever growing list.
Swamp Stomp 2013, with Bobby Lee Rodgers, Fishbone, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and others. 4 p.m. Saturday, February 16, at Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-374-1198; tobacco-road.com. Tickets cost $15 plus fees via swampstompmusicfestival.com.