Show starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at American Legion Walter L. Fox Post 2.
Bluesman Roger Girke has performed in over 4,300 shows around the country. That’s an average of one gig per day for 11 straight years, including leap years.
The Wilmington resident, in his early 60s, has released five projects including his 2017 “Silver Lining,” with his band The Wandering Souls.
Girke will bring his home-brewed tunes to Dover when he hosts the Central Delaware Blues Society jam at the American Legion Walter L. Fox Post 2.
The free jam is held every Thursday. Musicians of all skill levels can bring an instrument and share their love of the music with jam leaders.
What about the fact that you average a show a day for 11 years?
It’s weird. Some people can read that and they think it’s real boastful. But honestly, I’ve been really lucky, man, because I’ve been healthy. I’ve traveled a lot and played with hundreds of people. I learned my craft by just doing this in all kinds of scenarios: good, bad or indifferent. From festivals and big concerts to audiences of three. I’m serious, all of it has really been character building [laughs].
Does it make a difference where you perform?
You can’t expect to go into certain venues where, let’s say, the average age is half your age and you expect that you’re going to resonate with those folks. You might resonate with some of them, but not all of them. I’ve had some other contemporaries of mine complain about ageism. But you know what, when I was 20, I wasn’t going out to watch guys who were 50. It wasn’t my thing.
That comes back to my point about the good, bad and ugly. Part of my goal, and it’s still ongoing, is to pick my spots. I’ll pick a place where I know I’ll be successful over taking more money. I’d rather make less money and be in the right spot, then to go for the dough and be in a place where the people want to hear cover music, because that’s not going to work.
What unexpected things have you witnessed?
I’ve experienced people jumping up on stage. I’ve experienced people throwing stuff. That’s not cool. You have to stop the performance. And you have to call them out, because you’re in danger; your bandmates are in danger.
I’ve worked with people of all persuasions and I’ve had people single people out based upon their ethnicity and I’ve worked with women who were singled out. You’ve gotta stand your ground.
But by the same token, you’ve gotta be careful with what you do, because there’s a lot of crazy freaking people out there. Especially these days, people are packing heat all over the place. So you’ve gotta be careful about what you say over the mic and how you characterize things.
But on the positive side, I’ve experienced moments of joy where it was an amazing feeling and that same feeling was shared with everyone. Both the crowd and band was in sync. I’ve had those beautiful moments many times. Part of that is being able to understand your craft and realize you’re an entertainer, so you gotta step up and make it happen.
How is the blues different now?
I think there’s always young people coming into it. They’re not in the same numbers as when I started getting into it. But there’s a lot of young people that come to our blues jams that we host and we mentor them. People took me under their wing when I was that age; and I’m grateful for that. Back when I started there was no internet or cell phones. So you really had to rely upon a lot of guidance and people showing you the ropes.
Now you can watch a YouTube video and figure all this stuff out, which is cool too. That makes it all quicker. But as humans it all comes down to the same tactic: whether you’re watching a YouTube video or connecting directly with someone one on one, you still have to [get out there and] make it happen.