The majority of those now living in St. Johns County have never encountered Gamble Rogers, but many may hear his name each year as the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival is held each spring, a three-day event that includes two live music stages, featuring local, regional and national talent. The folk music recording artist died in October 1991 while trying to save a drowning man at Flagler Beach.
Hosted by a new board of directors led by his daughter Lolly Rogers, the inaugural Gamble Rogers Gala will take place from 6-9 p.m. on October 8 at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center.
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The fundraising event will include live music, silent auction and live auction, hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a raffle. Tickets are $25 per guest, available at gamblerogersfest.org.
In addition to the gala, Live from The Waterworks: A Gamble Rogers Concert Series will take place at the newly renovated historic Waterworks Building at 184 San Marco Avenue in downtown St. Augustine. The series begins October 22 and continues on the third Saturday of each month until June 2023. The concert series is a partnership between the St. Johns Cultural Council and the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival.
“The festival events continue to celebrate a man who is so near and dear to so many in the community,” said Lolly Rogers, Gamble Rogers Folk Festival Board Chair.
“The music will honor the specific songwriting genre as it is crucial to our American history and the legacy of my father who died 31 years ago. In his 30 year career, he is one of the best known folk musicians in the South .
Who is Gamble Rogers?
James Gamble Rogers IV was born in 1937, the son and grandson of prominent Florida architects, but chose to be a musician instead. He mixed music with dialogue and narration to captivate the audience. Google Gamble Rogers and watch a YouTube video or two.
Rogers inspired many artists, including Jimmy Buffett, to expand their storytelling ability…and their musical talent would follow. Buffet has performed with Rogers at St. Augustine venues such as the Tradewinds Tropical Lounge. He dedicated his 1994 CD “Fruitcakes” to Rogers.
“Gamble Rogers taught me how to move an audience with dialogue and delivery as much as music,” Buffett wrote in the album notes. “I attribute a lot of my ability to stay true to my vision to Gamble Rogers and what he taught me.”
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Rogers first came to national attention in the 1960s as lead vocalist and guitarist, both acoustic and electric, for The Serendipity Singers. He introduced and verbally set the stage for their songs when they appeared on TV shows such as The Tonight Show, Hootenanny and The Ed Sullivan Show.
He then transitioned into a solo career where he achieved national fame, appearing on talk shows across the country, hosting numerous musical specials, and continuing to perform his whimsical and haunting music. At the age of 54, Rogers died trying to save a drowning man at Flagler Beach. He is remembered today through the Gamble Rogers Memorial Foundation, with Gamble Rogers Middle School in St. Johns County named in his honor, as well as Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach.
The first concert on October 22 will feature Ruth Wyand and headliner Doyle Dykes. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 7:30 p.m. Only 100 seats are available for each concert. Tickets are $20 per guest, available online through eventbrite. Concert series packages are also available and include preferential seating and free drinks. Find ticket links at gamblerogersfest.org.
“We work with a committee of Gamble Rogers’ board to select artists. The concert series begins with a group of more experienced artists who all perform in a style reminiscent of Gamble Rogers, who was known for both his fingerstyle guitar artistry and his storytelling skills, explained Christina Parrish -Stone, Executive Director of the St. Johns Cultural Council.
“We are working to add up-and-coming artists who may not be as familiar to long-time Gamble fans this spring, and one of our goals is to ensure that we feature a number of extremely talented female artists. .”
Although influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and musicians, Doyle Dykes has developed a distinct and recognizable sound that astounds audiences while capturing hearts with sincerity and soul. He is considered one of the finest fingerstylists today, known for his exceptional skills and imaginative arrangements. His early years as a guitarist took him around the world as he toured with The Stamps Quartet and later with Grand Ole Opry star Grandpa Jones.
Demonstrating virtuosity on the guitar with powerful fingering, bottleneck sliding and a warm alto voice, Ruth Wyand presents a mix of original and well-crafted arrangements of classics by Doc Watson, Etta Baker, Miles Davis , Leo Kottke to Thelonious Monk.
Upcoming concerts in 2022
- November 19: Jim Carrick, Charley Simmons and Charlie Robertson
- December 17: Michael Reno Harrell with Bob Patterson
- January 21: Verlon Thompson
- February 18: Acoustic Eidolon
- March 18: Flower of Mary
Gamble Rogers Folk Festival
“The new ‘Live from The Waterworks’ concert series will help increase funding for an annual event produced by a local cultural organization — the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival,” said Parrish-Stone.
“This festival and concert series honors the legacy of one of St. Johns County’s most important local artists, Gamble Rogers. The concert series supports local artists by paying them to perform as openings for nationally known artists. These nationally acclaimed performers attract overnight visitors to St. Johns County—and of course, the performers and their families also stay there—and add to St. Augustine’s already stellar reputation as a tourist destination. musical. Another important thing to mention: Any successful, high quality cultural program or event that attracts visitors to the county also adds to the quality of life for our residents, who can attend the event and benefit from the taxes that visitors pay while in town. .”
The Gamble Rogers Folk Festival is known for giving back to area music students, donating to area schools, and hosting an annual competition for young people to showcase their talents.
Every Friday before the series concert, a free masterclass will be offered to local high school students.
“We provide an incredible arts education program as well as wonderful entertainment for our visitors and residents,” said Parrish-Stone.
Follow Gamble Rogers Folk Festival on Facebook and Instagram, and find more event details at gamblerogersfest.org.