Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler’s Last Deal @ Thrasher-Horne

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Iconic country music superstar Kenny Rogers is coming to the Thrasher-Horne this January! I’ve seen several amazing performances at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Performing Arts, but this one has me giddy with excitement. The last time that I saw Kenny Rogers perform was at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, and I was so far away from the stage that I did not feel a connection with the 3 time Grammy winning artist. Having Kenny Rogers perform in a venue where every seat is a great seat with amazing acoustics has me counting down the days until the performance.

Kenny Rogers is not only an inspiration in his six-decade career statistics, but he is also truly a genuinely humble human being. Last fall, I had the privilege of attending a phone interview while Rogers was in his tour bus in Charlottesville, VA. As each correspondent asked him their questions, I felt that he made a connection with us as he honestly opened up with his responses. My fellow correspondents were from major cities like Branson, MO, Little Rock, AK, New Orleans, LA, Charlottesville, VA, and Houston, TX. There was even a journalist from Switzerland! Similar to the energy that Rogers resonates during his performances, I could feel the excitement as each person interacted with him. It was very clear that we were all highly anticipating the arrival of his bus along the worldwide farewell tour known as The Gambler’s Last Deal.

The man behind 24 number one hits who has sold over 120 million albums over six decades, making him one of the top 10 selling male solo artists of all time, was extremely transparent in all of his responses. The highlights of our conversations were when Rogers spoke of his collaborations with Dottie West, Lionel Richie, and Dolly Parton. One day, he walked into the studio while Dottie West was finishing her recording session of Every Time Two Fools Collide. He was sitting at the control board with Larry Butler and he sang along with the song. Dottie invited him to sing with her sometime, and he volunteered to sing that song with her. So he went out and did it in her key, and it was wonderful. They became the best of friends. Kenny reminisced that West was such a talent and such a giving person as a performer. She traveled with him for about 2 ½ years and every day was a new experience.

Having grown up to jazz music, Rogers spent 10 years playing jazz so he shared how he made the transition to country music. According to Rogers, “The First Edition wasn’t set up as a rock and roll act. It was set up to be contemporary for the times. If you look back at the history, those groups were successful in the country market, too. When the First Edition broke up, I didn’t know where to go and the country music industry semi-welcomed me in. Larry Butler, the producer who ran Capitol Records at the time, advocated that he wanted to do Kenny Rogers. Once I got in, I wasn’t typical country, but I did invite people into country music that wouldn’t be there otherwise. The great thing about country music is that once you get into it, you don’t get out of it. It’s a very personal music, and no other music can say that.”

When asked if he had a favorite decade in his career, Rogers relayed that he thinks that The Gambler personified his career and became bigger than life. Everyone seemed to love that song and in doing that song, he became the Gambler and developed a bigger than life appearance. He said that he was not a good gambler or a good actor, but it was the combination of both that made it make sense.

In turn, when challenged about substantiating the rumor that the secret of his six decade long success was reinventing himself, he said, “I have this theory in the music business that you can either do what everyone else is doing and do it better or do something totally different. I knew that I couldn’t do what Johnny Cash, Waylon, or Willie and those guys did and do it better. If you do something different, then you stand out because there’s no way to liken comparison and that’s where I’ve always been most comfortable. My jazz period gave me experience in singing those kinds of songs that weren’t country songs. They were just songs with great messages.”

After answering questions regarding his decision to make this his final tour, Rogers shared the following regarding any future recording plans in studio or documentation of this tour. “I think that they are documenting the tour more for documentation than music release. I’ve done everything that I’ve set out to do. Every goal I set for myself. I’ve done that. There’s a point that you have to say, I had my turn let someone else have it. That’s kinda where I’m at. It’s not that I dislike music, it’s that I can’t keep doing this and spend time with my family.”

So as audiences all over the world will surely miss seeing Kenny Rogers performing in worldwide tours, he has left a legacy behind as his own personal gift of storytelling. Just as he had once obsessed with tennis, photography, and music, millions of people will continue to be obsessed with singing the lyrics of his timeless songs. Be honest, I bet you know all of the words to ‘The Gambler’, ‘Lady’, ‘Islands in the Stream’, and ‘You Decorated My Life’. When I asked him about how it makes him feel when audiences sing along to his songs, he said, “You realize that they must have heard it quite a bit and that they have gone to the trouble to learn it, so it resonated somewhere with them. It does make a difference. Last month, I was in China and saw that they don’t learn the lyrics because they don’t speak English. They know what the song means and the love the songs.” He loves that we love his songs and he truly loves his fans.

Get your tickets now to see Kenny Rogers on his 35th Annual tour with Linda Davis at The Thrasher-Horne on January 28, 2017. Let the love lift you in person just one last time as Kenny Rogers sings songs that every man would like to say and what every woman would like to hear. Be a part of the phenomenal experience that celebrates his life, his career, and most of all, his timeless music! For more information contact the box office at (904) 276-6815.

 

About Laura McDonald