The resurrection of ‘America’s Best Unknown Songwriter’

June 27, 2013

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
Singer songwriter Roger Salloom had been a part of the psychedelic scene in San Francisco when he was younger.
But then, in time, he retired and figured his music days were behind him. He went about raising his family, and put music not just in the backburner, but in a storage shed.
However, after some cajoling from his wife, who convinced him that he was better than he had convinced himself he was, Roger found himself back in the thick of things. He’s now back writing, singing, playing out, and earning accolades along the way.
Roger comes to Bridge Street Live in Collinsville this Friday. He will be accompanied by Charles Neville and Jessica Freeman.
Initially, when he returned to performing after a decades long lay-off, Roger said the experience was terrifying and unpleasant. But then things got easier.
Then he wrote a song, and then he remembered that he could write a good song. And he figured he could write another. So he did. That one was good, as well.
Roger continued to perform live, and then he began to do some recording. Out of the blue, he was approached to be the subject of a documentary, which became “So Glad I Made It: The Saga of Roger Salloom, America’s Best Unknown Songwriter.” Suddenly, the documentary earned him a Grammy nod in 2006.
Although he came from the psychedelic scene of the 1960s, playing at venerated venues such as the Fillmore and Avalon and opening for Santana, Procul Harum, and B.B. King, Roger’s sound has moved away from that “free form psychedelic sound” of his younger days. He said the sound these days draws more from his love of roots music, as well as drawing from influences such as Jimmy Reed, Bob Dylan, and even Curtis Mayfield.
Unlike some performers, offering up a few examples, Roger said he has somehow managed to get better as he gets older.
Asked about his songwriting process and what provides the spark to sit down with a guitar and crank out a tune, Roger said he is not one of those people who tries to crank out something new every day.
“I write when I feel like,” said Roger. “There is an internal clock inside me that says, ‘Hey, you’ve got to create.’” And so he does.
A recent song Roger wrote was one that kind of busted out of him. “Bullets of Consequences” was inspired by the incident in Newtown, Conn. The death of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a moment in history that has become tattooed into his brain.
“Newtown will never be forgotten,” Roger said.
“Bullets of Consequences” speaks about how today’s mass media teaches these young killers, such as the one in Newtown, that there are no consequences for firing a weapon, said Roger.
That song and others such as, “I’d Kill You But You’re Already Dead,” have been recorded for a new album that’s in the works, said Roger.
When Roger comes to Collinsville, he will be arriving with Charles Neville. Roger met Charles, who has played with the Neville Brothers for 40 years, when Roger asked him to play on an album. Then Roger hired Charles to be part of his touring band. Their relationship has since grown to become a mutual admiration society.
“I get a lot of charge out of playing with him,” said Roger of Charles.
Roger also is coming to Bridge Street with singer Jessica Freeman, who Roger met through Neville. “She’s the finest young jazz female singer around today, as far as I’m concerned.”
“She has a subtle but powerful presence on stage,” said Roger.
For the show with Charles and Jessica, Roger said he starts off the show by performing some of his original songs by himself. Then he invites Neville up to perform, followed by Jessica. Then the three of them perform together.
“We get a standing ovation wherever we go,” said Roger.
Roger Salloom featuring Charles Neville and Jessica Freeman will be at Bridge Street Live, 41 Bridge St., Collinsville on Friday, June 28 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission and $30 VIP reserved. For more information, go to 41BridgeStreet.com or RogerSalloom.com

Roger Salloom, along with Charles Neville and Jessica Freeman, perform at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville Friday night.

Roger Salloom, along with Charles Neville and Jessica Freeman, perform at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville Friday night.

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