Throw Down Some Lizard King – Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers, Ridgefield, Ct.

Ridgefield Playhouse
May 25th, 2011, 
8:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Manzarek-Rogers Band – Keyboards: Ray ManzarekGuitar: Roy RogersBass: Steve Evans, Drums: Kevin Hayes

I chose the title for this concert review because Ray Manzarek was having fun telling us that the night before in Massachusetts a young female fan yelled to him, “Are you gonna throw down some Lizard King?” Ray was tickled by the vernacular and interpreted this to mean is the Manzarek-Rogers Band going to play some Doors songs? Trust me the Manzarek-Rogers band did throw down with blues lizard king gusto!

The main purpose of the evening was to introduce the audience to the just released recording, Translucent Blues. 10 of the 13 songs played were from the new album*. I love the feel of this literature music that I call “Poetic Blues”.

Hearing the songs played live by the four person band opened up new interpretations of the poetic lyrics juxtaposed against the blues backdrop. The poetry came across with eloquence, it never sounded forced. Ray Manzarek’s narrative voice is pure beat poetry phrasing. Ray Manzarek’s longtime friendship and collaborations with Micheal McClure provides an additional rounding of the experience. The song “Kick” (Lyrics by Michael McClure) articulates the demon hell of kicking cocaine addiction

“Without McClure’s roar there would have been no Sixties.” — Dennis Hopper

The Manzarek-Rogers band did strong justice to two poems by Jim Carroll (the Basketball Diaries), “Tension” about living in an insane asylum and “Hurricane” which is a rocking blues number with a memorable chorus.

East Coast, got a hurricane

West Coast, got the same

High, high wind and the heavy rain…

(Jim Carroll Music – ASCAP)

Roy Rogers is an interesting, versatile guitarist to witness and study. He plays a double-neck guitar with ease, using a pick on his right hand and a glass slide on his left pinky. His command of the guitar is stellar. I loved his slide guitar playing, it was very rhythmic. His dexterity is second to none.

He guides the band in interesting directions. Roy played a guitar that Ray Manzarek nicknamed a “Derringer” on one of the three songs Roy Rogers wrote for Translucent Blues entitled “Blues in My Shoes”. Roy Rogers also wrote “Those Hits Just Keep On Comin'” and “As You Leave”. Roy Rogers collaborated on several of the other tracks and his production sense is strongly felt throughout the CD.

The Manzarek-Rogers band was tight. I loved how they pushed the beat with dedicated commitment of purpose.

Ray Manzarek took time during the evening to hold an open Q&A. My favorite question was about the infamous Doors concert in New Haven, which took place at the New Haven Arena on December 9, 1967 (The Doors song “Peace Frog” with the famous lyric, “Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven”). Ray shared his recollections about that evening. He explained how Jim Morrison was maced in the face in a dressing room shower by a New Haven cop. How wrong that was and how mistaken the New Haven cop was to do that. It was instrumental to hear Ray’s first hand account of that historic evening and how unjust the New Haven Police were that night.

Ray Manzarek then played “The Crystal Ship” solo for us on his Kurzweil PC 88 keyboard. The song as an instrumental is commanding in its breadth and scope. A beautiful, haunting rendition that really stays with you.

My favorite song of the night was River of Madness, a song based on lyrics that Warren Zevon had entrusted to Ray Manzarek six months before he died. The collaboration team of Stephen Gordon, David Gionfriddo, and Roy Rogers takes Zevon’s River of Madness to a passionate crescendo. Then you are swept away by the flood in LA.

There was a CD signing after the show. This turned out perfect as I collect signed CD covers. It was genuine to meet Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers in person. Here is how they signed my copy of Translucent Blues.

Set List
1. Hurricane*
2. Fives & Ones*
3. Game of Skill*
4. Patron Saint of Pain (Written by Donna Johnston)
5. Kick*
6. Those Hits Just Keep On Comin’*
7. The Crystal Ship
8. Tension*
9. Greenhouse Blues*
10. Blues in My Shoes*
11. New Dodge City Blues*
12. River of Madness*

Riders on the Storm
For Jim Morrison

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2 Replies to “Throw Down Some Lizard King – Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers, Ridgefield, Ct.”

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