Ontario folk singer Stan Rogers, who will make his first Washington appearance at the University of Maryland's Colony Ballroom Saturday night, is considered one of the finest songwriters Canada has produced. If people remembered that such praise places him in the company of folks like Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn and Neil Young, Rogers might be as well-known stateside as he is across the border. "I'm not a star yet," he concedes, "but I'm a medium minor asteroid."
Rogers, whose working-class songs have been covered by a wide range of folk artists, is pleasantly chauvinist. "We're inundated up here by American culture and music. Our radio stations primarily play music produced in the United States by American artists. If they're stars in the States, they're stars here." That situation, unfortunately, is not reciprocal and, as a result, "American audiences don't known too much about Canada and are therefore curious to see what it's really like up here."
The gangly singer consciously avoids "getting introverted in my songs. I tend to deal with issues and topics that are outside my own personal experience. I sing a lot about miners, fishermen, farmers and all that; I've never been a miner or a fisherman or a farmer, but because of my close contact with people like this, I've gotten a certain understanding of what their lives are like and attempted to translate that into song."
Despite lack of recognition in the States, Rogers is strongly opposed to the "Canadian content" regulation his country's radio and television stations must obey to preserve "Canadian identity": a certain percentage of programming must meet at least two of four criteria (lyrics, music, artist or producer must be Canadian)."I've always felt that if Canadians are going to compete in the international music market, they must compete on terms of their own excellence. If they need artificial props, they shouldn't be in the business."