N0 Hole in His Soul

Jimmy Rogers Comes to Louisville

By Paul Moffett

After fifty-plus years on the road as a blues musician, Jimmy Rogers has a bagful of clear answers to media questions.

"I go to Europe for the money," he laughs."I don't like the food, though."

Rogers, guitarist with blues legend Muddy Waters, had just finished chowing down on a hearty meal with the rest of his band.

Early on in his European trips, he says, he learned the foreign words for different kinds of foods, enough to keep him fed.

"I like to eat," he laughed,"and play the blues."

On the road again to promote his band's newest release, Bluebird, on Acoustic Sound Records, Rogers was in Louisville to play the Air Devils Inn. ADI owner Dan Shockley has been staging a series of blues shows featuring Chicago acts and arranged the interview.

"I left Mississippi 'cause I didn't want to pick cotton," Rogers recalled.

[In those days] "if an airplane flew over, I'd watch it until it was out of sight," he chuckled."Then I would get hit for it." Blues music looked like the way out. By 1942, he was "playing with the guys," not getting much money, but playing professionally.

He went to Memphis, then onto Kansas City and St Louis, until he wound up in Chicago, where he got together with Waters.

"We were doin' something different and my guitar playin' just went together with Muddy's [music]."

Rogers recorded with Waters on Chess Records in the those days and he reeled off the names of players and record label executives with the casualness of someone who was there. Those recordings are now studied carefully by blues aficionados.

Rogers also developed as a songwriter, writing tunes such as "Chicago Bound" and "Ludella."

His' memories seemed more focused on his travels around the world than anything else, however.

"Europe, South America, Australia, we went everywhere."

"I like to travel, I can't stay in one place," he laughed.

His itch to move means he leaves his wife and six children at home in Chicago, at least until the snow flies. Then he holes up in Chicago "'til spring," except for "fly outs."

As for his lifetime business of the blues?

"Anybody who doesn't like the blues has a hole in his soul," Rogers smiled.

"You can quote me."

Then the blues legend went in search of another piece of pie.