Bobby Lee Rodgers can make murder funny. As chief songwriter for The Codetalkers, the jam band he started in 1999 with Col. Bruce Hampton, his songs like "Body In The Lake" combined bluegrass, funk, rock 'n' roll and jazz with a sense of humor.
"We really don't have any control over it," Rodgers says of the band, which he now directs, since Hampton's recent retirement. "It's just its own animal, alive and breathing."
Obviously, Rodgers takes a Zen-like approach to music, due in part to the lessons he learned from Hampton: "The thing that I learned most from him was to make sure that your intention is pure at all times. Then everything else will take place. Take care of the details. If you try to force things, that's when it's wrong."
Since Hampton's retirement, Rodgers occasionally puts The Codetalkers animal in its cage to expand his horizons, teaming up with guitarist Jimmy Herring (Allman Brothers, The Dead, Aquarium Rescue Unit), drummer Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Leftover Salmon) and bassist Neal Fountain (Col. Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners) to form, appropriately, Herring, Rodgers, Sipe and Fountain.
The new group is a bit jazzier than The Codetalkers, which Rodgers describes as a '50s and '60s group. "This is more of a newer sound, more of a '70s sound," he says.
But he's not changing sounds at this point for mass appeal purposes. Rather, Rodgers feels that his role in the music business is clear: to make it easy for people to feel better without turning to drugs or alcohol.
"I don't really give a shit about driving a van nine hours just to be on a stage and play my guitar. I'm sick of it," he says from. "I'm here because I enjoy seeing people go away from the show and go, 'Man, you really made a difference in my week.' That's just everything to me."
Herring, Rodgers, Sipe and Fountain play Aug. 18 at the Cat's Cradle at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.