MANHATTAN, NY—The Los Angeles-based Edward Rogers is an Emmy Award-winning composer for television shows including Warehouse 13. The New York-based Edward Rogers, however, is a British-born singer-songwriter with a low-key history in the local music scene. The latter Rogers moved to New York City when he was 12 years old during the mid-1960s and soon started playing drums in several garage bands. One day in October 1985, however, he felt sick while riding a New York subway. He stepped between the subway cars and slipped. He miraculously survived, but his right arm and right leg below the knee were amputated. Steadfastly committed to a music career, Rogers turned to songwriting and found singing and writing more rewarding than playing drums. He recorded two albums with the Bedsit Poets folk band and his fifth solo album, Kaye, was released in April. Rogers also is a concert promoter and hosts a weekly Sunday afternoon radio show, Atlantic Tunnel, on East Village Radio.
Opening for Colin Blunstone at City Winery on May 13, Rogers performed a too-short but very enjoyable 35-minute set. Although Rogers is quite American by now, his music had a distinctly British flair and charm, reminiscent of Ian Dury. Backed by two guitarists, James Mastro of The Bongos and Don Piper, who doubles as Rogers’ producer, Rogers’ story songs were quaint and articulate, and his jovial projection helped flesh out his lyrics. He is worth a listen.
In the early 1960s, the British Invasion that started with the Beatles radically changed the American music scene forever. The Zombies were among those groups, charting with “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” but like most of the British artists of that era, the band nearly disappeared after the two initial hits. The group’s last gasp a short time later was “Time Of The Season.” The Zombies split after recording baroque pop concept album, 1967’s Odessey And Oracle, which had limited success in its time but took a quarter-century to become a cult classic.
For a brief time in the 1970s, vocalist Colin Blunstone worked in the insurance business before launching a solo career that kept him working but left him obscure. Meanwhile, keyboardist Rod Argent had success in the 1970s with a rock band called Argent. In recent years, the two reformed The Zombies. Blunstone, meanwhile, recently embarked on a two-week tour in America, his first in about 40 years, to promote his 10th solo album, On The Air Tonight, which was released on Jan. 21, 2014.
Headlining the show at City Winery, Blunstone was pleasingly personable between songs, sharing amusing anecdotes of the 1960s and beyond. Backed by a guitar-keyboard-bass-drum quartet for most of the show, he was in strong voice. That voice, as awe-inspiring as it was when it hit the higher ranges, however, was accompanied by music that was way too ordinary. The opening songs sounded like 1980s Survivor-Toto-Foreigner anthem rock. He fared better with a cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s 1966 hit, “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” a song Ruffin sang on Dave Stewart’s 1980 solo album. But why was a song with lyrics about the struggle to overcome the debilitating sadness of a broken love relationship so buoyant and rocking?
Much of the repertoire was comprised of songs he recorded on solo albums or albums by other artists. They included original songs, including “Caroline Goodbye” about Blunstone’s breakup with model/actress Caroline Munro, and others by artists from the 1960s and 1970s, including Argent’s Russ Ballard (“I Don’t Believe In Miracles”), Wings’ Denny Laine (“Say You Don’t Mind”), Tim Hardin (“Misty Roses”) and Smokey Robinson (“Tracks Of My Tears”).
Midway through the show, “Misty Roses” led a trio of compositions in which Blunstone was backed by a string quintet rather than by his band. Blunstone’s delicately superb vocals were especially pronounced during this segment. Blunstone appealed to audience members nostalgic for the British Invasion, but much of his concert seemed better suited for the cabaret or Broadway stage than for today’s rock stage.