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Herring, Rodgers and Sipe will undoubtedly draw the attention of Codetalkers fans, A.R.U. fans, and fans of icons The Dead and Phil Lesh and Friends not only because of the obvious musical talent H.R.S. will bring to the stage, but also for the songs that have become known to so many fans as the tunes Rodgers has brought to our ears through his bands The Herd and The Codetalkers over the last decade. Undoubtedly, Herring, Rodgers and Sipe are poised to please a vast and varied group of fans who expect to hear these first-string players strut their best stuff.
Bobby Lee Rodgers is a songwriter and instrumentalist who has been playing and writing since the age of seven. Having begun his musical education on the upright bass, Rodgers learned a plethora of bluegrass tunes at an early age, going on to become well-versed in jazz standards in his high-school years, playing both drums, banjo, bass and guitar. His years spent in Augusta, GA as a child afforded him the opportunity to become familiar with the sounds of James Brown, whose kids were playmates of Rodgers. He went on to study Jazz at the University of Georgia, and then went on to teach the same subject at the Berklee College of Music by the age of 23. For many years, Rodgers taught during the day while gigging at night. His band -Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Herd- was well-recognized in the New England area, but Rodgers moved back to Georgia in 1999 when his father became ill. A day after moving home, he met Col. Bruce Hampton, and within months had formed The Codetalkers with the one who is often referred to as the Godfather of Southern Alternative Music, who, until that time, had best been known as front man and founding member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit.
Enter Jimmy Herring: Many will recall that Herring (electric guitar) and Sipe (drums) are both alumni of the Aquarium Rescue Unit and Phil Lesh & Friends. Herring has toured on two occasions with Rodgers’ and Hampton’s band The Codetalkers. Herring, by this path, came to know Bobby Lee Rodgers and the talents that Rodgers possessed outside of his notoriety as a banjo stud and lead singer of Hampton’s latest project. Herring’s fame was first bolstered by the cult status that was created by the Aquarium Rescue Unit’s position as a founding member of the original H.O.R.D.E. Tour, created by Hampton and Blues Traveler front man John Popper and Widespread Panic front man John Bell. A decade after the dissolution of A.R.U., Herring could look back on a career filled with years as a player in such legendary bands as The Allman Brothers and The Dead andPhil Lesh and Friends. In 2004, Herring had a long discussion with Rodgers following a sit-in with The Codetalkers during MagFest, in which both A.R.U. and The Codetalkers played. That night, Herring and Rodgers decided that they needed to find a way to work together again. A friendship was born, and a musical legacy was initiated of which we are all now the beneficiaries. Jeff Sipe, an old friend and band mate of Herring’s, was the next addition to the H.R.S. crew.
Jeff Sipe (a.k.a. Apartment Q-258), born in Germany in 1959, has been in the USA on a permanent basis since 1973. He learned to play drums in Junior High, and coupled with memories (gathered while living in Thailand as a child) of the Buddhist monks ringing their bells in reverent praise, Jeff soon acknowledged his discovery music as a calling and allowed himself to be lead through his discovery of Fusion musicians to such greats as Miles Davis. In 1977, Jeff was accepted to the Berklee College of Music (the largest music college in the world) and shared this playground with band mates Herring -who attended Berklee’s seven-week summer session in 1980- and Rodgers -who was an instructor there in his early twenties from 1994 to 1999- a remarkable feat shared with such luminaries as Herbie Hancock and Pat Methany. Jeff was lucky enough to attend Berklee with an impressive cast of musicians including Branford Marsalis, and started his first fusion band with Steve Vai and Baron Brown. These experiences turned Jeff on to a wide open world of music and gave him valuable tools that he still carries with him today. Soon thereafter, Jeff moved to Atlanta, and the fate by which most of us know him was initiated. Jeff soon asked Oteil Burbridge and Jimmy Herring to sit in on this free-willed musical band wagon and the Aquarium Rescue Unit was born. This is the avenue by which many of us have come to know Jeff’s name, and when Bobby Lee Rodgers recently accepted an invitation to sit in with A.R.U.’s recent reunion shows in Boulders Fox Theater, fate took another turn. From that point on, Herring’s proclamation that Rodgers was “the cat [he] had been looking for” went a long way in influencing Sipe. Both Herring and Sipe, until recently, played with Phil Lesh and Friends, and took a break in order to explore the possibilities created by Herrings affiliation with The Codetalkers’ frontman.