By Will McGuirk
The quietness of rural living and revelations of constellations has inspired generations of Ontario country folk musicians including Benjamin Dakota Rogers who has just released his third album, ‘Better By Now.’ The Brant county raised musician was also inspired by generations of his own family. The gift of a fiddle owned by his great-grandfather set him on a journey which sees him stop for an evening at the Oshawa Music Hall Saturday June 1 2019.
Rogers grew up in Scotland, ON. just south of Brantford, some ways away from his relatives he says in an interview with slowcity.ca.
“I met my grandfather for the first time when I was seven years old. He came down from Timmons and gave me his father’s violin. My folks put me in lessons, and I did that pretty much until I graduated high school. In the meantime, I picked up a bunch of other things such as guitar and banjo, singing and most dear to me, songwriting.”
Songwriting was picked up (some may say quite well) by another from the area, singer/songwriter and guitarist Robbie Robertson, who along with members of The Band, gave rise to what Daniel Lanois calls “The Simcoe Sound,” a moodier version of Americana.
The North Ontario melodies of Rogers’ Timmons fiddle played under the open skies of the more southernly Simcoe, gave rise to something in his own music which feels so much older than the player and also the listener, something located more in history than geography.
“I had no idea there was such thing as a ‘Simcoe sound’ but I don't know if a particular area influenced me,” he says. “Definitely, by growing up rurally, it gave me a great appreciation for open spaces and the absolute darkness that can come with nighttime when there are no city lights to ruin it and those things come out in my songs. Mostly I think my descent into folk and Americana come from growing up as a fiddle player and having parents that loved folk music and played it together in our kitchen.”
Kitchen sessions in the winter yes but when the summer finally comes one ventures to the campsite and its there, lost in the glow of flames under the glow of stars, the work of the song takes place. For Rogers the work also takes place before the more modern glow of the dashboard.
“I sit alone with it late at night when everyone else is asleep. I hardly ever write in the day time most all my music is written after midnight I sit in my music room or out in a field somewhere or in my car or I suppose wherever I happen to be, and music usually comes out,” he says.
Sitting, looking, waiting for the songs to reveal themselves one . . .