Mike Rogers is a staple in the Park City music scene
January 10, 2014
An influx of musicians will converge on Park City when the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals come to town during the next two weeks.
Sundance’s ASCAP Music Café and the BMI Snowball will showcase an array of artists during that time. Various venues and nightclubs will offer a rich palate of music, and buskers will play in various spots on Main Street.
Local musician Mike Rogers will also be busy with his regular shows at Molly Blooms, the Blind Dog Restaurant and at Deer Valley.
The pianist plays a dueling piano show at Molly Blooms every Saturday at 8 p.m. and returns one day, usually Tuesday, during the week for a jam session with other musicians beginning at 7 p.m.
His Blind Dog shows run Wednesdays through Fridays at 7 p.m. and he plays après ski shows at Deer Valley’s corner store every Sunday at 3 p.m. all winter long.
Rogers never questioned his desire to become a professional musician.
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He went to school at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Conn., and studied world music. "I minored in piano and played mandolin and guitar and bunch of other things," Rogers said during an interview with The Park Record. "I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and did a year at the New England Conservatory."
His first foray into music was jazz.
"I had a bunch of jazz bands in Boston, and I was actually a jazz guitarist," he said.
Rogers moved to Park City in 1999 and landed an internship working at the Sundance Institute.
"At that time, I looked at the music scene on Main Street and realized that there weren’t a lot of musicians that played here," he said. "I started playing open-mic nights and then began playing for whoever would hire me."
Rogers also began teaching music to children in kindergarten through the eighth grade at the Colby School.
"During that time, I played with a group of musicians called Sautéed Mushrooms and helped Randy Barton set up Mountain Town Stages, which is now known as Mountain Town Music," he said. "I [continued to] play with anyone I could anywhere they wanted me to."
In addition to being one of the first original three pianists who set up the Tavernacle Social Club in Salt Lake City, Rogers joined another band called Junior and Friends, which evolved into Junior & the Transportation, and plays in a band called Muddpuddle, which is comprised of some former members of Sautéed Mushrooms.
A couple of years ago, Rogers established the Prime Steak Piano Bar, but left for a change of scenery and dived into some freelance shows.
Molly Blooms was one of those projects.
"When Gregg Davison at Molly Blooms had a free night and needed someone to fill in, I would play, and that turned into a regular gig," Rogers said.
The idea for a Mike & Friends jam session came a few weeks later.
"I thought it would be great to do something where we could get whomever we could to come out and jam with me," he said. "We also wanted that to be an open jam for experienced musicians. It’s not an open mic for those who have never played in public before. It’s for those who have played out but don’t do it very much anymore."
Other projects include private parties, which become more frequent during film-festival week.
"It gets very busy, but I can’t really talk about who I play for and where these parties are because of the non-disclosure clauses in the contracts," he said.
If music isn’t enough to keep him busy, Rogers, who is on the ski patrol at Deer Valley and a winter sports instructor at the National Ability Center, a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor recreation opportunities to people of all abilities, is a family man.
He is the father of two and his wife Jodie is the executive chef at Deer Valley’s Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges.
"They are so great to support me in what I do," Rogers said. "In fact, everyone I know have been great. It’s been quite a ride, for sure.
"This town supports musicians and you can make a good living playing music," he said. "The catch is you have to actively do it. You can’t stop."
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