When Gamble Rogers steps on stage, as he did at the Birchmere last night, listeners might as well make themselves comfortable; Rogers won't be stepping down any time soon.
A tall, lean, square-jawed man, Rogers is a singer and guitarist who lives in Florida and records infrequently. But more importantly, he is an artful storyteller, an unabashed lover of words and droll witticisms, whose improbable tales of life in the South make his performances unforgettable.
To hear Rogers tell of a turkey farm "massacre" in Florida, or a "commode-hugging drunk," or the plight of a three-legged dog named "Flat Tire" is to savor a special kind of Americana. Surely Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie would have appreciated the color and construction of these stories. They were packed tight with adjectives, humor and, above all else, the keen observation of a man long fascinated by the oddities of American culture. Listening to Rogers, laughter comes easily and often.
Occasionally he would interrupt his narrative by singing a honky-tonk blues number or a pleasant ballad. He also performed a few finger-picking guitar pieces in the manner of Merle Travis, Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotten. These moments nicely complemented his stories, and one hopes he soon gets a chance to do it all over again in the Washington area.