Prince, Larry Graham, his son and me…
Prince, Larry Graham, his son and me…
The night Prince died I recorded a video of my favorite song of his, “The Beautiful Ones”,
because that song always inspired beauty, eccentricity, melody and authenticity in me. Mainly beauty. He’s been an inspiration to not just me, but my whole family. My two cousins got to meet Prince when he played in Oakland a few years ago, because their grandpa, the legendary Larry Graham (of Sly and the Family Stone and Hall of Fame inducted as a solo artist), was playing bass for Prince on that tour. They’ve always been close friends and actually lived together in separate houses on the same sprawling property.
I met Mr. Larry Graham at his own 2013 concert at Yoshi’s in Oakland. He was releasing his latest solo album. He invited me onstage with other close family members during the encore to dance and jam, and after the concert we shared a few words. He mentioned the 1st album I’d ever made called “Dreaming Seed’ (released in 2004 when I was 21), and said he enjoyed it and asked what I was upto next. His son, Derek Graham who was standing there with us later told me that he and his dad had both listened to my 1st album from front to back and after listening Larry told his son, “this is a great album, bass playing and lyrics in particular.”
“Dreaming Seed” started it all, but Prince’s recent passing is inspiring me to do so much more new music – possibly a mashup video of his hit “I Will Die For You” from “Purple Rain”, and “Purple City”, a song of mine not in direct tribute to Prince (as it was written with something else in mind), but with ‘Purple’ in the title its hard to ignore the connection. Also musically and just the way it feels is coincidentally similar, so hopefully I’ll be making it work together on video in the very near future.
But for now, hopefully you’ll get a chance to check out “Single”, my latest album from just a couple years ago. Just the other day it dawned on me that the production reminds me a bit of “Purple Rain” because it’s lush, layered, unique, musical and sexy 🙂 Click here to listen to it, my most recent album, “Single”.
The Four Guys From Reno/Izabella
Both albums have a rich history starting with the fact that they were reached produced by a different member of The Four Guys from Reno (who???). The man who helped me produce the my 1st album, ‘Dreaming Seed’, is my bandmate Andre Fylling. Andre and I had been in a jazz group called Four Guys From Reno since 1999. We got our name from a drunk man who caught the four at a phone booth (very 90’s), one of us making a call and the other 3 talking about the Joshua Redman concert we’d just come from at Crest Theater in Sacramento. The drunk man looked at us and said, “Y’all from Reno?” So we became the “Four Guys From Reno”, even though we were from Sacramento. Additionally, we lost our sex man and founding member Javier Ramirez to a cruz ship gig in 2001, so we were just 3 guys now, but we kept the name Four Guys From Reno.
We’ve been a group for 15 years whose played about 2000 gigs and we’ve had triumphs: inducted into the Sammie Hall of Fame for best jazz, played for Venus Williams’ (tennis star Serena Williams sister) birthday, and toured the nation for nearly 4 years with jam band Izabella. That was the trippy-est trip: I personally got to play 16 hours onstage with Hall of Fame drummer Bill Kreutzman of Grateful Dead, on Halloween night and the next night on my birthday! Great time 🙂
Oh mn we got to play many numerous milestone events on that never-ending tour like the Oregon Country Fair which is like an art trip more than a music festival but we were one of the few musical guests invited. We did High Sierra music festival twice on the bill with Ben Harper, Keller Williams, Bob Weir of Grateful Dead and many more. But mainly we just got to play for 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of fans, new friends and crowds big and small, all over the United States in theaters like the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, or the legendary Fox Theater in Boulder, Colorado. We even covered Bohemian Rhapsody in it’s entirety at a festival!
Yes, a great trip but that was what ended us, ultimately… You see, we took to original jazz trio that was the Four Guys From Reno, and teamed with Bay Area Trio Izabella to form the super group the bore the latter’s name: Izabella. However, the style was a blend of the two groups, but our Andre (keyboard in Four Guys From Reno) was not on board with the new sound and left the band after just one year. So it was just me (drums in Four Guys From Reno) and Sam (bass in Four Guys From Reno) left in the band, and BTW I was now on guitar and lead vocals in Izabella and Sam was on keyboard and vocals… Andre was just MIA…
Izabella toured and had all those great experiences I mentioned but we were missing our brother. Maybe that’s why Izabella was doomed to break up, who really knows. All I really know is that Sam, Andre and I are meant to play music together, period. But at that point, right after Izabella broke up, we weren’t yet ready to reunite. Andre was still off somewhere in California on his own, but me and Sam remained close.
Brian Rogers Music
We made it our business to produce my next album, a solo Brian Chris Rogers album with Sam’s production all over it. I felt that album, called Single’, was to catapult me into my next phase of my career and most everything I am doing now. I packed Harlows night club in releasing it with Izabella guitarist Sean Lehe’s band Bumped on the bill and current Sacramento stars Ideateam on the bill. I bought a loop pedal like Sean Lehe(Izabella guitarist) had been suggesting since the last year we were in Izabella together – maybe Sean since I was going to leave Izabella (or that he was going to quit) and knew that as a multi-instrumentalist who’s man instrument was drums, I would shine on a loop pedal with my percussive age to make my layered loops extra live, rhythmic and on point.
I did it, and made my bass guitar and drumming a feature with the loop pedal. I didn’t always have a drum set so I just drummed on my guitars and looped that lol! Anyway I started doing single (no pun intended) man shows with my loop pedal and started making a new name for myself as this one man band kind of thing. I attracted the attention of a friend, who happened to also be friends with comedic star actor Chris Tucker (Smokey from Friday and detective Carter in Rush Hour), and she landed me a gig…
I played Chris Tucker’s private party in late Aug/early Sep. 2014 and that’s when I feel things started opening up more for me. The Four Guys From Reno got together for our first show in God knows how long and started putting more stuff on the books slowly but surely. Not playing 4 nights a week like the old days, but making each show count, playing better than ever, and now we’re finishing up an official new Four Guys From Reno album! All of a sudden the Four Guys From Reno playing again made me feel the magic of jazz and jazz drumming again, and upped my game as a drummer and a musician in general. My single ma loop shows were sounding better as a result.
I guess the bond between me and Sam was now resurfacing too – as in 2015 we were embarking on our 2nd National tour of the United States (me on drums and him on bass, just like in Four Guys From Reno), supporting our buddy’s band the J Band, in a trio that received love and fan support wherever we went. I was loving drumming, being a funk rock songwriter looper artist, and loving being a jazz drummer for Four Guys From Reno.
All this activity and momentum lead to a recent Sammy win for Best Funk Band in 2016 for Groovincible (another band Sammy and I held down, him on keyboard, me on bass and vocals), and perhaps more importantly, I recently landed 3 big gigs on drums.
1. Drumming again with The J Band at Concerts in the Park on July 29th, 2016
2. Drumming with recent double Sammy winner Joe Kye at Concerts in the Park on May 20th, 2016
3. Drumming again with Joe Kye, at the Mondavi Arts Center in Davis… opening for the legendary…
So there’s lots to look forward to, not least of all being that YouTube video of “I Will Die For You” by Prince mashed up “Purple City” by me. The cover video I made for “The Beautiful Ones” already has nearly 1800 views in just 5 days, so I look forward to making more and more of these lo fi yet musical music videos. I’ll have a chance to practice more music video material at my May 14th solo show at Shine Cafe in Sacramento -I’ll be sandwiched between touring act “Freddy and Francine” whose opening the show, and headliner “Bellygunner” (lead by CAKE bassist Christopher Gabriel Nelson).
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