WANT TO GO?
WHERE: Clay Center
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
TICKETS: $30, $49 and $64
INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Through much of the 1970s and '80s, there was scarcely a bigger music star in the world than Kenny Rogers. With songs like "Ruby," "Coward of the County" and the ubiquitous "The Gambler," Rogers dominated the country music charts for years.
Through the '90s, the Grammy winner's star faded some. He still charted country hits, but with less success than his earlier material.
However, Rogers, who performs Wednesday night at the Clay Center, never called it quits. He hung in there and is diligently working on what could be termed a comeback.
Almost a year after surprisingly appearing at the progressively and independent-music minded Bonnaroo Music Festival, Rogers finds himself in the middle of recording a new album. It has reunited him with some old friends, including Don Schlitz, who wrote "The Gambler." He also has a busy tour schedule that will take him, among other places, to festivals in Morocco, England and Switzerland.
"I'm the first country artist to ever play the festival in Morocco," he said. "And I'm playing Glastonbury, the same festival that U2 played, after that."
He sounded a little baffled to keep getting invited but glad to still be out there.
"I panic every time I go. When I did that thing in Tennessee [Bonnaroo], the first thing I said is, 'What's wrong with this picture? Me. Here.'"
He laughed and added that the show was a lot of fun. It helped that people liked him.
"I'm convinced people who bought my records when they were young played them for their kids," he said.
And that's fine by him.
Rogers said musically he's always gravitated toward doing what nobody else is doing rather than trying to do what somebody else does better. That's usually led him toward two types of songs.
"I've always looked for songs that either say what every man would like to say and what every woman would like to hear, songs like 'Through The Years,' 'She Believes in Me' and 'You Decorated My Life' or songs that are social songs, that have something important to say."
"Reuben James," he said, was a song about a black man raising a white child. "Ruby" was about the Vietnam War, and "Coward of the County" was about a rape.