Amanda Rogers played the beautiful Copper City Brewing Company on a chilly Thursday on November 9. The evening was warmed by the great brews on tap, the fun food truck serving farm-to-table burgers and sandwiches and a delightful delivery from Rogers’s vast array of original songs, unreleased new tunes and a few wonderful covers from Bob Dylan, Radiohead, John Craigie, and even a Billy Joel request learned on the spot.
315 Music caught up with Rogers this week for a brief interview on music, life, new recordings and shows, and the best comfort food to enjoy while touring.
315: Amanda, can you speak about how music has shaped your life, from childhood, into adulthood and motherhood?
Amanda Rogers: From my earliest childhood memories, I think music is what humanized and connected everyone around me. My parents’ records, my Dad’s guitar, the car radio loud, and the DJ personalities spouting to all the other listeners, like me, like my parents, like anyone and everyone. When I was around 5 or 6, I made my first musical purchase separate from my parents’ preferences and I rocked out to a Bangles mini cassette two-song single in my “pocket rocker” music player with headphones.
Shortly after that, I took interest in my best friend/neighbor taking piano lessons and I loved playing the piano and having her teach me what she learned each week. Once I started lessons, it quickly became the thing I didn’t know I needed. It was my comfort and solace. My therapy. I could focus intensely on all I was learning and tune out the chaos and confusion around me. Not only did I have piano to dive into, but also amazing music of the early ’90s to give validation for many of my emotions I didn’t have words for yet.
When I was a young teenager, I discovered a new therapy and that was writing poetry which quickly became songwriting. When I connected to the punk and hardcore community in Syracuse at the time and then started sharing my music with other people at these shows and coffeehouses, there was no doubt that it was what I would continue to pour myself into. I was able to discover that any loneliness and confusion I felt as a kid and young adult was not just my own and that music was an emotional language to connect deeply with people like myself.
As I continued my career, it was that connection to people that really mattered and that I wasn’t making music for myself but for the collective. That my music and the people needing it would eventually find each other. When I became a mother, music became my therapy again and my peace and balance to the chaos of parenthood. My children don’t know me without my music and are witness to the therapeutic need for it. The necessity of processing and expressing emotions when words and silence fail. I see my children head to the piano or pick up a drum or tiny guitar and I’m happy to know they have a much bigger head start than I had to unravel all the big feelings of childhood. When I hear them sing made-up songs while they play in the other room, my heart sings and heals and no doubt music is medicine.
315: What do you believe is important about supporting live music, venues, and musicians?
AR: Music shapes culture. Music is a foundation for people to form their cultural identity. Music connects people socially, politically, spiritually, and emotionally. Music promotes physical and mental well-being. Music is a universal language that connects us. A connected society is a peaceful one.
315: You have a storied career and an incredible catalog. What is next on the horizon for you with recording and playing out?
AR: There is more of both to come. I’m in a positive transitional period. I plan to release music I’ve recorded this past year, not in a big release fashion, but to just get it out, make room, and clear the way for the music I’m making right now that I’m most excited to share.
315: What are the benefits of celebrating music, especially original songwriters in this day and age?
AR: We should always celebrate new original art, music, and other creative forms…not to get too “new-age” but it is what the collective consciousness is expressing right in the “now” and there is medicine in that reflection. New music, in particular, allows people to stay in tune with and witness the subtle changes happening culturally, socially, and globally. Oftentimes, it is music that will be the thing that reminds people of hope, love, and beauty in the world during the hardest times. Celebrating new music is celebrating the future.
315: If you could travel back in time to any musical moment in history to be a witness, what would you choose?
AR: I’m not going to Google dates but sometime in the early 1800s when Beethoven premiered his 9th symphony with a huge killer orchestra in Vienna. I hear that was off the hook. Also, when Bob Dylan went electric in the ’60s and devastated all the folk music purists. I would have loved to feel that rattle in the chest exhilaration! As a songwriter without a genre, I’ve always taken great offense that I’m shunned from folk venues and festivals that are folk alliance officiated because I play piano – which is “not a folk instrument.”
315: What’s your favorite comfort food while on the road touring?
AR: Depends on what part of the world. Brötchen and streichcreme vegan pate with veggies every morning in Europe (bread and spread!) In the US, I always have car snacks packed. Usually Nuts, fruit, peanut butter and hopes for an occasional Tofu Emerald Green Curry Thai dish along the way. I happily live on beans and rice. Tea might be my true comfort nourishment.
You can catch Amanda Rogers at several upcoming dates, including the Backdoor Bar in Old Forge on November 25, The Huff Brau on December 8, Winter At The Palace Masquerade Gala at Arts At The Palace on December 9, and the Rooftop Lounge on December 29. Also, follow Copper City for many more awesome concerts each week as they continue to support the local and regional arts scene.