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Garnet Rogers - Get a Witness: Live

Get a Witness: Live

Garnet Rogers

SGS 1133CD

Available from

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Right out of the starting gate, Garnet Rogers affects a fierce protest stance, slapping Dubya in his monkey face in "Junior", detailing the many travesties of our idiot past prez's rule, a guy at whom we can all throw a shoe and sing "You don't speak for me!", as Rogers makes unambiguous. With sizzling guitar chords and a mocking backing chorus, he tears into King George's false persona and strips the little swine bare…and that's just the start of this shining live gig.

Rogers sports a gruff resonant voice, an archetypal sound, and plays an acoustic rhythm guitar. His venue is folk crossed with rock and a no-nonsense lyric sense. Keyboardist Dave Matheson enriches the sound tremendously with his piano playing as Rogers inveighs against the misfortunes and class war besetting the common man. Behind both of them, Cheryl Reid wields a set of sticks and skins keeping time while rocking out.

A word of warning: don't be deceived by your CD player's read out on this one. The disc is indeed 77+ minutes long but its parsing doesn't track numeratively. There are 12 tracks as stated, but several fold into one giant cut: an impressive cover of Springsteen's Blood Brothers (4:58 and far more affective than Bruce's rendition) moves into David's Solo (2:52) which flows into Night Drive (11:40) and Northwest Passage (7:40)...nearly half an hour long all told and a dramatic journey. The "bonus cut" (c'mon, quit with the Madison Avenese!) is ridiculously separated from the rest of the CD by a minute-anna-half space…but I'm in no position to complain after such a denouement tour de force; it's a very minor quirk, one that dates back to the 80s, the dawn of CD.

Rogers is in a league with John Gorka, Cliff Eberhardt, John Martyn, Bruce Cockburn, and my recent favorite, JP Jones, every one of whom is the reason why this blend of folk is strengthening the tradition, transforming it. And I don't know if co-producer and mixer Scott Merritt is the same Scott Merritt who issued the Violet & Black IRS LP of 1989, but, if so, not only was that release a nice one, unjustly overlooked, but he appears to have chosen the correct side-profession, as this outing is very well presented, clear, spacious, and redolent of exactly the right airs.

Track List:

  • Junior
  • Beyond This Wall
  • Get a Witness
  • Summer Lightning
  • Empty Glass
  • Good and Faithful Servant
  • BIttersweet (Karen Savoca)
  • Blood Brothers (Bruce Springsteen)
  • David's Solo (David Woodhead)
  • Night Drive
  • Northwest Passage
  • Bay Boy
All songs written by Garnet Rogers except as indicated.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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