Category Archives: “Rob Roper”

Building a Community of Misfits

I sent this email to my fan list yesterday:

It was probably back in 2004 or 2005 that I started going to see the Denver band, The Railbenders.  I liked their electric guitar-based, old school style of country music, with original songs by bandleader Jim Dalton.  Soon after, Jim started a weekly series of acoustic music on Tuesday nights, which he named, oddly enough, Acoustic Tuesdays.  I began attending those on a regular basis, and got to know Jim as well as many of the hardcore Railbender fans.

By then, I was attending almost every Railbender gig not only for the music, but to hang out with the new friends I had made.  There was a sense of camaraderie among the core Railbender fans;  a sense of community.

Since then I have gone through various encarnations of my own bands.  However, I haven’t seen that same sense of community among fans developing when I play.  I want to change that.  I want to develop this community further, for both my acoustic band, Scupanon, and with Electric Poetry, my new electric band.  It struck me that I have friends from various sources who have never met.  They should.  I know they would like each other.  I would like to use my music as a way of bringing them together.

So from now on, I’m going to make a conscious effort to encourage my friends and fans to come to my shows not only for the music, but for the opportunity to hang out with friends, and make new friends.  Like I did with the Railbenders.  Ever since my friend Kurt Loken labeled me “the troubadour of the misfit” back in 2009, my mission has to create and perform music for misfits.  What better way to bring misfits together, than at my shows?

A community of misfits?  It seems like an oxymoron.  Afterall, misfits, by definition, don’t fit in.  But maybe it could be done, if the music served them.  What do you think?

The next gathering of the misfits will take place on February 8 at Herman’s Hideaway in Denver.  Electric Poetry is playing, along with 4 other bands.  Your new friends will be waiting there to meet you.

Your fellow misfit,

Rob

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2017 Year-in-Review Addendum

I don’t only work on music during the year.  So here’s some other highlights of my 2017:

 
New great songwriter discovered in 2017:
Rachel Sermanni

Movies I enjoyed in 2017:
Eyes on the Prize:  America’s Civil Rights Years (documentary)
Maggie’s Plan
The Cotton Club
The Train
Bird
Merchant’s of Doubt (documentary)
A Most Wanted Man
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Jimmy’s Hall
Carnage
I am Sam
Muscle Shoals
The Lady in the Van
Steve Jobs:  The Man in the Machine (documentary)

Books I enjoyed in 2017:
Chrissie Hynde, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender
Johnny Marr, Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography
John Lydon, Anger is an Energy:  My Life Uncensored
Ryan White, Jimmy Buffett:  A Good Life all the Way
Willie Nelson, Willie:  An Autobiography
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity
John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
Charles Gati, Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt
Gary Webb, Dark Alliance: Movie Tie-In Edition: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion
Fred Halstead, Out Now; A Participant’s Account of the American Movement Against the Vietnam War
Howard Weir III, A Paradise of Blood: The Creek War of 1813–14
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape
Andres Duany et al, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream 

Also I made some new friends, rediscovered an old friend from college, and further developed my friendship with people I met in 2016 or earlier.  I didn’t realize what a good year it was until I typed this up!

 

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Chasing the Dream, Part 2: The Mission

In my previous blog, “Chasing the Dream, 3 Years Later,” I reviewed my accomplishments over the last 3 1/2 years after I took a layoff from my IT job to work on music full-time.  In this blog– Part 2– I discuss what’s next– my musical mission– both musical and lyrical– and what type of music I want to play, and what type of bands I need to play that music.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

What’s next for Rob Roper music?  I gave this a lot of thought over the past year.  I decided to start at the top– the goal– and work down to the details.

What should be my goal?
Be happy.

What makes me happy?
Creating and playing music with and for people.

What kind of music?
Rock and folk.

Played how?
In a band.

Do you want to compose music, write songs, record or perform music live?
Yes.

Who is your audience?  Who does your music serve?
Misfits.

What is my Mission?

My mission is to create, record and perform music that I like, with and for other people, in order to serve my fellow misfits.

(You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to compose that one sentence.)

I first realized that serving misfits should be my musical mission back in 2010, while choosing songs for my album by that name.  Nothing has happened to cause me to reconsider that.  In fact, my views on that have been strengthened in these last years.  Scroll down to see my poem, “My People” elsewhere in this blog, written last May, see see how I define “misfits.”  If anything, I feel like I haven’t served my people well enough in the past.  I feel like I’ve been too conservative, both musically and lyrically.  But that’s been changing over the past 3 years.  Have you heard my songs, “I Didn’t Believe?”  Or “Metadata?”

What is Misfit Music?

Non-mainstream, original, interesting rock and folk, mixed with other types occasionally.  Musically, I strive to combine various musical genres I like into a unique style.  I want it to be difficult for people to describe my music.  Lyrically, I like lyrics about both personal and social/political struggles, done with good emotion and sometimes humor.

Solo Artist?  Or in a band?

Although I enjoy playing my songs solo at times, I prefer playing with other people.  This is true whether I play in a rock group or an acoustic group.  I just like the interplay of the different instruments and musicians, and how they add to the song.

When I took up songwriting seriously in 2004, I did it mostly on acoustic guitar.  So when I started playing my original songs in 2007, it was done in the singer-songwriter or folk environment.

But for the past 3 years or so, I’ve focused on writing rock songs.  In 2016 I released two rock albums, Word and Roses.  Continuing to write rock music, and forming a rock band to play that music, is a top priority for this next year or so.

But don’t worry, my folk friends.  I’m still writing acoustic songs, and I will continue to play my acoustic music live.

So I need a minimum of two bands– one rock and one acoustic.

I have the acoustic band– Scupanon– which is violinist Paul Ermisch and myself, and whatever other musicians pass through.

My rock band has a name– Total Flower Chaos– but no band members yet.  I’m looking for them.  It’s been a little difficult, because the music is not mainstream and neither are my lyrics.  But I’ll find them.  I’m focusing on recording home demos of my new songs so other musicians will be able to hear my musical and lyrical vision for this band.

Meanwhile I’ve been having fun playing with 3 excellent rock musicians, Paul Webb, Sean Mullen and Jay Meikrantz, with my friend Janet Lipson on backing vocals.  They like my older songs from the Misfit and The Other Side of Nowhere albums, as well as some of my newer songs, like “3-Legged Dog.”  We’ve played two gigs so far and plan to play more.

Speaking of new songs, I have more than enough for a new album.  In fact, I have more than enough for two albums– one electric and one acoustic.  What I don’t have is funding.  Recording in a professional studio takes thousands of dollars.  I have enough experience now, after recording 5 albums in studios, to be able to estimate the cost pretty accurately now.  I have given a lot of thought to this question, and that will be the subject of Part 3 of this blog.

–Rob Roper, September 29, 2017

 

 

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Powerless

Powerless (poem)
by Rob Roper 1st Draft May 25, 2017

It’s a kangeroo court

Those in authority can lie
They can invent evidence
They can falsely accuse me of things
They can say I said this or that

What they say
is gospel truth
Whatever I say
is disregarded
Their lies are accepted
my truth is rejected

They can
convict me of crimes I didn’t commit
They can
take my money
They can even beat me
and they’ll get away it
they’ll win
They always win

Those in authority have always abused me
It’s happened over and over
all my life
And there’s nothing I can do about it
nothing I can do.

People say, “Yes there is!
You can unite with others
against the people in authority!”

But they never unite.
Nobody ever backs me up.
They leave me standing all alone
to fight the powerful
It’s a losing battle

For I am powerless
I am in the class of losers, the rejects

And you wonder
why I have no confidence
you wonder
why I have no hope
It’s the result of experience
lessons learned the hard way

This is what I’ve learned:
Superior force always wins
Justice always loses

I have no power
They always win
I always lose

always lose

always lose

always lose.

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My People

My People (poem)
by Rob Roper 1st Draft May 26, 2017

I have no use for the winners
The frat boys
now yuppies
with their careers
and families
Taking the baby out for a stroll
with their expensive pure-bred dog
(probably ordered him online)
and their boring mainstream clothes
mainstream haircuts
mainstream facial hair
according to the current fad
staring at their mainstream stupidphones
their boys and girls on bicycles with
training wheels
but wearing helmets anyway
living in their big yuppy triplexes with
3 living rooms
5 bedrooms
and 4 baths
where a small house from the 1950’s once stood
generic boring
shrubs and grass planted by
Mexicans
hired by
the developer landscape company
not a single flower to be seen anywhere
all neat and orderly
like their haircuts.
I have no use for these people.
They bore me.

Give me the losers
the misfits
the rejects
rejects
not because society rejected them
but because they rejected society.
Those who
worked odd jobs all their lives
and never had a career
because all careers seemed boring to them.
Those who never made it
due to lack of enthusiasm for “it”

Bring me the failures
those who have been searching all their lives
but never found it
The wannabe poets, artists and musicians
Well-read
with and a sick and twisted sense of humor
and a healthy dose of cyncism
who know that American politics is corrupt
and whose taste in music
is a rejection
of the mainstream
and an embrace of the subversive

These are my people.
People like me.

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