Uncut with Jay Cutler: Randy Rogers Talks Early Music Career, Lack of Support From Country Radio, and Staying True to His Sound and Style

by Chris Haney

We’ve got another great musician joining the show this week on the newest episode of Uncut with Jay Cutler. Texas-based country music star Randy Rogers sat down with host Jay Cutler at Outsider Studios recently to talk about his life and career.

For 22 years, the musician has toured all over and charted multiple albums with his band, The Randy Rogers Band. Yet the 43-year-old’s long music career began at only six years old when his grandmother taught him how to play piano. Eventually he’d go on to learn how to play the guitar, start writing songs, and form his own bands as he navigated his way towards a career in music.

Rogers was in Nashville to play a show with fellow country artist Parker McCollum recently. While in town, he took time to sit down with Cutler for a career-spanning interview. The pair talked about Rogers’ early days in Texas where he first got his start in music. It took the singer a while to get picked up by any country radio stations early in his career, but he still had massive support from fans at his live shows.

As a former NFL quarterback, Jay Cutler could relate to Rogers when he spoke about how tough life can be when you’re constantly on the road. Especially when it comes to missing out on time and events with your children. Rogers also discusses why radio stations stopped playing his music as the modern country sound evolved but he stayed authentic to his own style. Plus, the guys talk about the musician’s brand new bourbon line and his wild adventures entering the liquor industry. The pair talk about that and much more on this week’s episode of Uncut with Jay Cutler.

Randy Rogers Talks Early Music Career on ‘Uncut with Jay Cutler’

Like many other country musicians, Randy Rogers grew up in church where music first made an impact on his life. As the son of a preacher, Rogers shared that he’s “been on stage every weekend” since he was 10 or 11 years old performing in church. He’d play piano during services and he’d lead the youth group as well.

Growing up in San Marcos, Texas, there were local opry houses that would invite young artists to perform on weekends. The small local venues would also hold talent competitions. Rogers took third place one time when he was 15 years old singing Tim McGraw‘s “Don’t Take the Girl.”

Around that time he also wrote several love songs attempting to impersonate similar tunes from popular ’90s country artists. Later in high school, he started a rock band that played cover songs from popular grunge and alternative bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. But in college, his music career would begin to take shape once he performed at Cheatham Street Warehouse. Country music icon George Strait got his start with his band Ace in the Hole at the venue in San Marcos as well. Rogers wrote a song called “Lost and Found” and performed it at an open mic night at the venue. The venue’s founder, Kent Finlay, liked his performance and invited Rogers to come back the following week.

“I went down to Cheatham Street, played ‘Lost and Found,’ Kent Finlay came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Come back next week.’ So then I really started writing,” Randy Rogers said on Uncut with Jay Cutler. “At that point I was writing two songs a week. [Finlay] told me, after playing six months of open mic, ‘Hey, get a band together, I’ll give you Tuesday nights'”.

“Tuesday night at Cheatham Street is sacred,” he continued. “That’s when Ace in the Hole and George Strait played, every Tuesday night. Stevie Ray Vaughan played Tuesday nights there. Through the years that was like ‘the night.’ So I played there for a year.”

As they say, the rest was history.

Why Country Radio Didn’t Support Rogers’ Music Early On and Why He’s Not Bitter About It

Randy Rogers has toured for more than two decades hitting the road and performing for audiences across the nation. He built a strong following in his native state of Texas and in other pockets of the country. Yet even though some of those areas would play his band’s music on their local country radio stations, he never really got nationwide support from country radio.

As Rogers explained during his interview on Uncut with Jay Cutler, his band would get airtime in some cities. They did well across Texas, but also in places like Kansas City, Denver, and Chicago. However, radio stations never seemed to play his music in unison at the same time. Pockets of the country may hear his music frequently while other areas wouldn’t play a single track.

In fact, early in his career, country star Kenny Chesney sang one of his songs. Additionally, Parker McCollum cut three songs on his last album that Rogers wrote. Past that though, he hasn’t had much mainstream success. Host Jay Cutler has been a fan of The Randy Rogers Band since the 2000s, and the pair have known each other for years. The former quarterback is still shocked Rogers’ music didn’t get more love from country radio.

“I remember early mid-2000s and meeting you and you had ‘Interstate’ and you know just straight jams. And it was like radio just wouldn’t play ’em. It made zero sense,” Cutler said to his guest.

“Yea, it’s interesting ’cause radio did play it, but it was in pockets,” Rogers responded. “You know, Denver, Kansas City, Chicago. I was getting played on the radio, but for whatever reason the record label couldn’t ever get all of the stations in the country at the same time on board.”

“So people always ask me if I’m bitter about that s–t, but I’m not at all,” he added. “Because, like you said, I’ve been in the game a long time – 22 years. I had my biggest ever hard ticket night in Kansas City like four months ago, ever in my career. So it’s kinda hard to believe that’s true after being in the game that long.”

Randy Rogers Chats About Staying True to His Music As Modern Country Music Evolved

“I think my sound, I didn’t change my sound, my sound evolved as a band,” Rogers explained when talking about the shift in sound of the music on country radio. “We didn’t go hire studio musicians and make it slick and sound like not us. Like if you go to see us tomorrow night, we sound like our records and that’s how we wanted it to be.”

“100%. Yea, hearing your records and hearing you live, it’s literally the same thing,” host Jay Cutler said.

“I think the music itself, what was getting played on the radio took a drastic turn,” Rogers shared. “It’s been called ‘bro country,’ but you can call it whatever you want. We don’t have to name names or talk s–t, right? ‘Cause I ain’t in that business. But what was getting spun on country radio, for whatever reason, it shifted. And then I was just kinda like everybody loves The Randy Rogers Band at the record label. Everybody loves Randy Rogers Band in town. But radio, their companies were shrinking too and getting bought up by bigger companies. So the playlist shortened and there wasn’t room.”

“It always baffled me,” Cutler said still dumbfounded Rogers’ music didn’t find more mainstream success.

“If there’s any explanation about it, that’s it,” Rogers added. “My sound just wasn’t popular there for a minute.”

Randy Rogers talks about much more during this week’s new episode of the podcast. Make sure to check out his full conversation with host Jay Cutler in the video above, or tune in and listen to Uncut with Jay Cutler on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.