Bobby Lee Rodgers began his musical career at age seven, when he started playing the upright bass. Moving on to the banjo at 9, he got heavily into bluegrass, moving on to play the drums after that. By his teenage years, he was playing the guitar and learning jazz standards. Fortunate to attend a high school known for it's jazz ensemble, Rodgers travelled across the country having the opportunity to play with greats that any musician would envy. He graduated with a degree in music from the University of Georgia, and went on to become one of the three youngest professors ever to teach at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. As an assistant professor of Jazz Studies, Rodgers also toured throughout the northeast and Europe both as a jazz performer and with his own band, which gained much recognition in the northeast. Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Herd were nominated for a variety of music industry awards, and Bobby Lee even had songs featured on MTV's Real World and Road Rules.
He has toured with such acts as Jimmy Heath (who said Bobby Lee has "the gift of melody," which is in Heath's opinion a rare gift) and now often performs with such old-school performers as Hubert Sumlin, Vassar Clements, and Ike Stubblefield. Jimmy Herring (of The Dead and Phile Lesh & Friends) has become his newest musical ally, with Herring calling Bobby "the cat I have been looking for." Bobby performs with folks such as Derek Trucks and has opened solo for Blues Traveler, prompting the latter's front-man John Popper to declare that Rodgers is his favorite musician out there today!
Bobby's band The Codetalkers is releasing the seconf CD on June 13th. Bobby will be touring with jimmy Herring and Jeff Sipe (as Herring/Rodgers/Sipe) in late May and Early June, with more shows to comelater in the year.
He played with Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit in january, filling the long-empty shoes of original member and mandolin mad-man Matt Mundy. Rodgers played his electric banjo during these shows, which lead ARU's management to hail the line-up as "The New and Improved ARU."
Heavy-hitters in the industry have said that Rodgers has "the golden touch" and have put their weight behind any project rodgers chooses to be a part of. For now, it's The Codetalkers and Herring/Rodgers/Sipe.
Rodgers will be interviewd for NPR's Morning Edition in May, but the segment will air in June as part of the CD release for The Codetalkers' record.
Bobby Lee Rodgers - Guitar (banjo, etc)
Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Herd, "Water Buffalo" (1998)
The CodeTalkers, "Deluxe Edition" (originally released 2000)
Bobby Lee Rodgers, "Mercury Retrograde" (2004)
The CodeTalkers, "now" (2006)
Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers, "Galaxy Girl" (2008, Japan Only)
Bobby Lee Rodgers & The CodeTalkers, "Overdrive" (2009, unreleased)
FERRY BOAT - BLR on all instruments
SEE YOU - from "Mercury Retrograde" (BLR on all instruments)
SILLY EMOTION - From "Mercury Retrograde" live version
THE LAST ONE
The evolution of Bobby Lee Rodgers
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When Bobby Lee Rodgers walked away from the comfortable, dependable life of academia, he made a life...When Bobby Lee Rodgers walked away from the comfortable, dependable life of academia, he made a life decision that would scare off most men.
He left a great teaching job at Berklee College of Music - one of the country's most prestigious music institutes - for a life on the road spent in buses, motels and clubs.
"There was this inner urge of knowing I had all this music to get out," Rodgers recalls. " Everyday I went to school, I just felt like 'I'm not supposed to be here.' So I just realized I needed to go do this. I needed to get in the van and go do it, and here we are now still in the van."
After packing up his life in Boston, intent on heading towards family in Georgia, Rodgers detoured to Nashville, Tennessee because of the sales pitch of some friends. With an unexploited amount of talent and a background in music education, he easily fell into session work and once again found a comfortable way of life. However it still didn't feel right.
bobbylee1.jpg "I felt like I could have done the session thing really well," he says. "Not just on a music level, but also on a business level. I understood how those cats thought, and the business came easy to me. I just felt like I could not stay and do this."
Around that time Rodgers was mostly playing jazz music. He had written numerous songs but he was not a singer, and he "had broken up with this girl who was a singer with all of my songs, and I was just learning how to sing."
A friend claimed he could deliver a record deal to Rodgers if he would sing these songs, and almost overnight he had landed his first deal. He headed into the studio with Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Herd.
"I sound so different," Rodgers recalls, "and it all is just in pitch, but it is funny to hear. You will here it in the music, it is just so weird. But it actually had a lot of success. My music has always created all this stuff, and that is what started all of this.
"I found myself sitting in a room writing songs for Water Buffalo and realized that I was not supposed to stay in Nashville and just play licks on country songs. There was something else that was driving my life."
It was not long before Rodgers made it back to Atlanta, where he met up with a strong presence and a good friend.
"I met Col. [Bruce Hampton] at the Variety Playhouse," he recalls. "I knew this guy Edward Hunter who played in Blueground Undergrass, and he asked if I wanted to meet Bruce. We met and hit it off right away - it was a real natural relationship. I moved back home within a couple of weeks, and he asked if I wanted to be in the band."
In the beginning it was really Col. Bruce Hampton's project, Rodgers says. "I moved into it with a drummer and bass player already there. They moved on, and I started getting my friends in. That is when it started to become my band. There was Ted Pecchio (bass), but he left for two years. Then he came back and Tyler (Greenwell, drummer) came in. So it was always me sort of pulling the musicians together."
As The Codetalkers continued to evolve, Rodgers was writing more music and finding ways to deal with having the wildest teacher around.
"Bruce was always in the way," he says. "He will tell you he is in the way. He just makes you stronger through these weird experiences. Oteil (Burbridge) came up to me one time and told me that 'Now you are invincible.' This was after I had stopped playing with Bruce and this other weird stuff had begun to happen. He had the same experiences with Bruce and knows that nobody can take that wisdom away from you."
herringrodgers.jpgBobby became good friends with Oteil and played with him, Col., Jeff Sipe and Jimmy Herring on some Aquarium Rescue Unit reunion dates. "Playing with ARU was amazing," he says. "I went to the University of Georgia and used to go to ARU shows, and I just knew I was supposed to be in that band. To become friends with those guys and have them allow me to be a part of it...was amazing."
Rodgers and Herring also found a very unique friendship outside of ARU. Jimmy is the godfather to Bobby's child, and the two musicians talk all the time about life with the Col. and many other shared experiences. During down time, Jimmy and Bobby put together a project, along with Sipe. Herring, Rodgers, and Sipe was a short-lived project, but one that was a natural fit for the talented musicians and friends.
Bobby says, "Jimmy came to me and said, 'Man I got this gig with Panic' and I (told him) go do what you need to do. Both of us know we don't need each other. We just care about each other and we will probably do a ton of work together in the future."
In fact, Herring is playing on Bobby's newest record, which is currently being recorded. And Bobby may be helping Jimmy with his first real effort as a songwriter.
"It is so crazy," Bobby says, "because (Jimmy) has always admired songwriters, but he has always been working, helping others to realize their visions better than anyone else out there. He just raises these bands to incredible levels. He wonders 'Why can't I write,' and I tell him 'Just write, man.'
"I talked to him over the last few months and he is just so on it. I can't even get him on the phone. When I get him he says, 'Man I've been writing, and coming up with all of these new voicings.' So I am so excited for him."
Transformative Musical Experience
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The Island Hopper: 10/28/05 excerpt from Tiffany Yates' article following MagFest 2005: "But w...The Island Hopper: 10/28/05
excerpt from Tiffany Yates' article following MagFest 2005:
"But what most of us come for is the music, and every year, it seems, I
not only find a handful of fantastic bands brand-new to me, but I
manage to happen upon at least one truly transformative musical
experience, usually utterly by accident. This year it was Bobby Lee
Rodgers in the tiny open-air tent set up near the campground entrance,
as he free-form jammed with Joe Craven, one of the most versatile
musicians I've ever seen.
Rodgers is the guitar player and vocalist for the Codetalkers, a
phenomenal jazz-funk-fusion band with touches of swing and
boogie-woogie in their tunes. With Colonel Bruce Hampton, one of the
fathers of the jam band, the Codetalkers presented two of the
highest-energy shows of the festival, turning the amphitheater stage
in the woods and the meadow stage under the stars into giant dance
Bobby is a prolific songwriter, and sings all his own material, always delivering a unique set list whether performing solo or with his band.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.