With more musical projects under his belt than Jack White on coke, local musician Jeremy Rogers has been gigging the Northeast Florida scene hard since the early 2000s.
The 38-year-old is currently in hardcore punk outfit Dredger (guitar/drums) and alt-country band The Weighted Hands (electric guitar/mandolin/accordion), as well as performing solo under his own name.
“I’m really happy with where I am musically right now,” says Rogers. “I’ve done the touring thing. I’ve put out a bunch of records that I’m proud of. I get to play with some really great friends and artists and people occasionally pay me money and buy me drinks to strum on my guitar. I’d be doing that at home anyway.”
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Rogers grew up in Gainesville and then St. Augustine. As a kid, he was exposed to his dad’s classic rock record collection — specifically Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Leo Kottke and Steely Dan.
But it wasn’t until hearing Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that he started begging for a guitar — a wish that came true in the form of an Alvarez six-string.
“I was lucky enough to take lessons with one of my dad’s best buddies and Florida folk legend Bob Patterson for a couple years,” Rogers says. “When I got into high school, I started working with Gary Piazza and delved into classical guitar for a few years. Then I found punk rock and all that learnin’ got thrown out the window.”
After graduating from St. Augustine High School in 1994 and University of Florida College of Education in 1998, Rogers joined established punk band Boredom and played bass for them until 2002. The group disbanded after Rogers broke his thumb skateboarding right before a gig in California with Yellowcard.
So Rogers and the band’s guitarist Tom Derringer got together and opened up One Louder Studios, a recording studio off S.R. 16.
“To get our recording chops up, we started recording ourselves,” Rogers says of the
formation of his next band, Exhaustra, which existed from 2003 to 2004. “We didn’t have a drummer, so I played drums. We didn’t have a singer, so Tom sang. The songs were turning out better than expected, so we rounded it out with TJ Stein and Ryan Badger and we had a band. The name was taken from my favorite Radon song.”
Rogers’ next two musical projects would prove the most influential. From 2007 to 2010, he played drums and bass for En Masse, which later changed its name to The Eastern Wave.
“These bands represent the most challenging music I’ve ever played,” says Rogers. “The Eastern Wave was a really important band for me. 90 percent [of people] hated it. We cleared rooms. But the other 10 percent loved it and were passionate about their connection with the songs. I think good art should generate that type of reaction.”
For the next few years, Rogers played drums, accordion, guitar and mandolin in popular St. Augustine bluegrass group The Wobbly Toms (2008-’12) and guitar in pop punk outfit Onslaught Dynamo (2008-’10). Onslaught Dynamo released a debut full-length, This Sinking Feeling, which was recorded in Rogers’ garage.
“I imagine it’s tough everywhere to be a working musician,” Rogers explains. “So I really appreciate the time and heart that my fellow pickers put into their craft. The brass ring chasers fall by the wayside pretty quickly and you’re left with some truly honest and amazing art.”
Though he’s been a constant stalwart in the local music scene, Rogers has never given being full-time musician a go. He’s a single dad with bills and it’s just simply not in the cards now that he’s nearing 40. But there’s still plenty of time for him to improve upon his skills.
For example, Rogers was in The Sweetest Punch, a folk trio, in 2011-’13 until he and a bandmate ended their relationship. The group was gaining ground — opening for Ed Kowalczyk at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and getting air play on WQIK — so it was a letdown.
“My solo career started when I had to fill contractual obligations of the recently departed The Sweetest Punch,” Rogers explains. “We had four gigs on the books and I contacted them all explaining the situation, fully expecting to have to pay up. But they all booked me solo instead and I’ve been working on it since then.”
When he’s not working in the accounting office at a golf course, surfing or practicing tae kwon do with his son, Rogers is playing in his two current bands, Dredger and The Weighted Hands, and continuing to work on his solo material. He recently recorded a debut album on his phone, which will be released Feb. 24 on Computer Club Records.
“I’m a realist about my abilities and know where I sit in the music scene,” he says. “Honestly, I’m stoked. I have no pressure from anyone but me about what and where I play and it’s awesome. I’ll never stop. I’ve tried; it hurt.”
Hear Rogers’ music at jeremyrogers.bandcamp.com.