Paint Horse Benjamin Dakota Rogers
Label: Good People Record Co.
Subgenre: Country Folk
Artist: Benjamin Dakota Rogers
Album including Album cover
- 1Little Old Paint Horse03:43
- 2John Came Home03:11
- 5Back to You03:17
- 6Wild Wind Can Have Me04:26
- 7Blackjack County Chain02:43
- 10Charlie Boy02:46
- 13Goodnight V203:03
Info for Paint Horse
Ontario. A small barn on a “recently retired” tobacco farm in the eastern Canadian province is where Benjamin Dakota Rogers calls home. The subject matter of Paint Horse isn’t small in the slightest, but it has a feel that reflects such quiet intimacy.
Over 12 originals and a cover of ‘Blackjack County Chain’, Rogers welcomes a vast cast of characters, from the doomed “Rosie” to the vengeful antihero of ‘John Came Home”. More than half of these songs are named for people: together their tales make up the kind of mythos that most songwriters can only dream of.
Rogers’ even has a haunting trucker speed song of his own, following ‘Arlo’ from motel to motel with his wife in a Tupperware on the passenger seat. His singing is comparable to Willy Tea Taylor; his wizened yowl ranges from tentative and poetic to furious, particularly on the whirlwind chorus to ‘Back to You’.
Paint Horse features the same three instrumentalists throughout. Peter Klaassen plays bass, Sam Clark coaxes out some brilliant fiddle sounds, while Rogers tracks most everything else. Tracks like ‘Charlie Boy’ and ‘Eloise’ take well-worn traditional forms, but situate them within Rogers’ own songbook, where they crackle with life. There are moments late in the record where the riffs and reels Rogers coaxes from that four-string sound a little familiar, but his playing never loses any of its immediacy.
Rogers’s biggest feat with Paint Horse is the way he’s fused the hardscrabble tales of the people from songs with a lived-in love for his surroundings. On ‘Little Old Paint Horse’, Rogers’ lover is compared to an oak tree: “And she holds me in her branches / When I can’t stand at all”.
“I'd been thinking about making an album like this for a while and had the first shadows of these songs drifting in and out of my head for most of the winter of 2022. I'd been living in the loft of a barn on my folks' now-retired tobacco farm for about a year, spending my days outside hunting and foraging and my nights around a bonfire with my brother and my love. I would take quiet moments to write and practice things I thought I'd almost forgotten. I grew up with folk music, it was always a part of my family—fiddle competitions and festivals in the summer. My mother sang while my dad accompanied her on guitar next to our fireplace on cold evenings. I started playing when I was seven and since then it has consumed much of my life in one way or another.
In the winter of 2022—in my little studio surrounded by familiarity—I found myself picking old tunes, restringing my fiddle, and falling in love with storytelling again. Conversing with my grandfather about his youth, working ranches and riding in the rodeo and my father, a construction worker tired and sore from years of hard labour. I became frustrated realizing the night skies around our farm weren't quite as dark as they used to be as housing developments creep ever closer, spoiling what's left of wild places with their uniform lines of artificial light. The things I didn't know how to talk about became songs. They came to me blunt and fast. Though they may not be my best work, they are certainly my most honest. I recorded the bulk of these songs live with a bunch of ribbon mics and close friends up in the barn. We'd work until 2 am then sit out at the fire for a drink, a smoke, and talk about what was for dinner the next day. It was lots of smoked meat, eggnog, and good hangs. I hope you can feel that when you listen.
I owe endless thanks to the people in my life—my family and partner for their belief in me and steadfast unquestioning support and trust in what I'm doing. Crispin Day, my manager, for his wisdom and openness to doing things our own way. Peter (bass) and Sam (fiddle) for believing in my songs and for all the great hangs. And to everyone who has been along for the ride so far — coming out to the shows, streaming my songs, and messaging me. None of this means anything if the songs aren't heard and y’all have been listening in a way that makes me feel truly blessed. Thank you and I hope you enjoy this collection of stories!”
Benjamin Dakota Rogers
Benjamin Dakota Rogers
wields one of those distinct, immediate, and truly wild voices. With a studied nod to old-time and bluegrass rhythms, his unvarnished sound effectively smashes the barrier between past and present.
Hailing from his family’s farm in Southwestern Ontario, Rogers grew up building greenhouses, growing vegetables, and living off the land. “Growing up my family drove a big VW bus. We listened to a lot of fiddle music, going from festival to festival,” he says. “These days I live in one of the barns, tap trees, and make music.”
It’s impossible to separate Rogers’ knack for brisk syncopation from the terrain he knows so well. In fact, the intense tension of Rogers’ voice – complete with a sweeping rasp and a flying drawl – seems to come directly from the farm’s wellspring. “There’s a massive pack of coywolves and coyotes in the woods near us,” he says. “You can hear them every night, howling and fighting.”
Delivering songs from a deep well of passion for storytelling, Rogers’ lyric sensibility is rare among young artists. His most recent single, “John Came Home,” is a haunting take on the murder ballad. “I’d had the riff for about six months,” he says. “I tend to write short stories and convert them into songs.” “John Came Home” is full of upbeat boldness and ghostly ire that culminates in a direct hit to the chest.
Rogers finds a way to match his instrument to the guttural twang of his voice. “I inherited my great-grandfather’s violin when I was young,” he says. “So I grew up playing that.” After a few years on six-string, Rogers began tuning his tenor guitar like a fiddle. “Tenors are neat because they were only popular for a short time in the 1920s. I’ve played about two-hundred shows on mine. It’s beautiful, and unreliable,” he laughs. The unconventional nature of such a classic piece shines on “Charlie Boy,” where precise picking builds to a dramatic peak. With sturdy backing by a sparse rhythm section, Rogers offers a fresh and authentic contribution to the traditions of string-band sound.
2019’s Better By Now introduced Rogers as a unique folk talent. Inspired by fellow troubadours Tyler Childers, Red Lane, and Colter Wall, Benjamin has shared stages around the United States with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Shovels & Rope, and The Milk Carton Kids.
With a stream of new singles released over the past year, Rogers is riding a creative wave. “I just set up a studio in the barn,” he says. “I’m excited about laying down new tracks there. Sometimes we even get the odd coyote howl funneled into the recording.”
This album contains no booklet.