There’s no need to be scared or suspicious if you see a young woman playing a crappy ukulele as she makes her way around New York: That’s just singer/songwriter Bess Rogers working on new material.
“I have definitely gotten some confused and possibly frightened looks from other drivers,” she says. “I tend to write a lot while I’m in the car or on public transportation, so I’m sure people look at me zoning out into space and assume that I’m on drugs or something.”
Writing songs on a ukulele — or coming up with a song’s lyrics and arrangement before even touching an instrument — is a byproduct of Rogers’ constant touring over the past two years, both as a solo artist and as a supporting player. Recently, she spent some quality time on the road as a member of Ingrid Michaelson‘s backing band.
“Playing the Lilith Fair [with Michaelson] this summer was pretty surreal,” Rogers recalls. “Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and we got to see and meet some incredible artists. During the encore, everyone who played was invited onstage for a version of ‘Because the Night.’ I found myself standing with one arm around Emmylou Harris and the other around Nancy Wilson. I’m surprised I didn’t pee in my pants.”
Rogers began a tour this month in support of her latest solo EP, the pop-flavored Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers.
“Being on the road so much has left me with little time to record, and making EPs enables me to get music out faster and more regularly,” she explains. “I felt the response to [2009’s] Travel Back was good, and I didn’t want fans to have to wait two years before I put out a full-length. I do plan on recording an LP this winter while I have some time off.”
And as if she doesn’t already have enough to do, Rogers also finds time to play in a country/bluegrass cover band called The Flux Capacitors.
“We strive to cover mostly big hits from the ’80s,” she says. “I like to see people laughing and singing along, so we really don’t go for the super-obscure songs. Some of my favorites are [Def Leppard‘s] ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ — which I will be playing at a lot of my shows this fall — [Robert Palmer‘s] ‘Addicted to Love,’ [Prince‘s] ‘1999’ and [Twisted Sister‘s] ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It.’ ”
— By Chris M. Junior
Bess Rogers on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Sept. 8: The Saint -— Asbury Park, N.J.
* Sept. 9: NightCat — Easton, Md.
* Sept. 10: Tin Angel — Philadelphia
* Sept. 11: Cafe Nola — Frederick, Md.
* Sept. 12: Southern Cafe & Music Hall — Charlottesville, Va.
* Sept. 14: Averett University — Danville, Va.
* Sept. 15: The Garage at Biltmore — Asheville, N.C.
* Sept. 16: Evening Muse — Charlotte, N.C.
* Sept. 17: Smith’s Olde Bar — Atlanta
* Sept. 18: Moonlight on the Mountain — Birmingham, Ala.
* Sept. 20: Third & Lindsley — Nashville, Tenn.
* Sept. 21: Birdy’s — Indianapolis
* Sept. 23: Elbo Room — Chicago