The band has played other famed Oklahoma venues like Blue Note Lounge, Tulsa's Cain’s Ballroom and Tumbleweed Dancehall in Stillwater. 

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Randy Rogers Band has had the same lineup throughout its 15-year history, something founder Randy Rogers said is a big reason the act has been successful and enjoyed a long, stable career.

“We’re a big family, and we all respect each other and we have each other’s back,” Rogers said.

This camaraderie is an advantage for a Texas outfit that plays about 150 touring dates a year. It brings its red dirt-hued country to Oklahoma for a sold-out show Friday at Choctaw Grand Theater at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant. Joining them is fellow Texan Casey Donahew.

Rogers has performed at the casino several times and described it as “one of the best.” He also said that not only are Oklahomans music lovers, they’ve also been some of the band’s biggest supporters dating back to the beginning of his career.

His band has performed at Oklahoma venues ranging from Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom to Tumbleweed Dancehall in Stillwater and Oklahoma City’s Blue Note Lounge.

“We’ve definitely paid our dues in Oklahoma,” he said, “and we’ve had a great time doing it.”

Rogers counts Merle Haggard and George Strait as major influences. Also on the list is Willie Nelson, with whom Rogers recorded “Trouble Knows My Name” from the band’s 2013 album Trouble.

Rogers’ father is a preacher, and as a child, Rogers sang in church, which is where his love of music and performing started. Around the time he graduated college, he also started the band and knew he had to take a chance on a music career. His mantra is simple: Just jump.

“I think Guy Clark said it best: Always trust your cape,” he said. “Writing songs and singing is something I felt confident about and comfortable with. I want to say that I knew that I could pull this off, but I never dreamed it would take me as far as it’s taken me.”

The band’s seventh album, Nothing Shines Like Neon, was released last year. Rogers said he and his bandmates set out to make a traditional country record, something he felt they captured in the songs.

“Neon Blues” tells the story of a woman burned by love and who “ain’t in the mood for any more lies or pickup lines.” In “San Antone,” the narrator proclaims his joy in returning home to Texas. In “Things I Need to Quit,” he lists the many bad habits he needs to break, including cigarettes and the memory of a love gone wrong, telling his lost love, “Girl, I’m all messed up and you’re to blame.”

The project also captures performances with high-profile fellow country music performers, including Jamey Johnson on “Actin’ Crazy,” Jerry Jeff Walker on “Taking It As It Comes” and Alison Krauss on “Look Out Yonder.”

Rogers writes about 80 percent of the band’s material and sometimes cowrites with three of the other band members. He focuses on traditional country music themes, which he described as “love and loss and blue-collar, hard-working values.”

“I like country music; I grew up listening to country music, and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Rogers explained.

Rogers said Friday’s sold-out crowd will enjoy a show that’s positive and energy-filled. Part of that upbeat, high-energy experience comes from the band’s own enthusiasm and passion for its work, something that Rogers said hasn’t waned in the group’s 15 years together.

“We still love to hop on the bus and go on tour; it’s still our lifestyle and it’s still a lot of fun,” Rogers said. “We get to go all over the country and do what we love to do. It’s not for everyone, but somehow, we manage to keep it in between the lines.”

This summer, the musicians head back into the studio to record their eighth album.

Visit randyrogersband.com.

Print headline: Neon notes, Randy Rogers’ red dirt act returns to Oklahoma.

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Lea Terry

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