Roger Manning

Roger Manning

Roger Manning is pretty new in my life. I have heard a lot of the legend surrounding his electrifying live performances since I was first exposed to Antifolk in 2002.
I recently came across a copy of Roger's first, self-titled album on SST, home base of some of my favorite bands. The visceral aggression of early Black Flag, the no-rules genre benders The Minutemen. Descendents, nerds you didn't fuck with. I was excited to finally hear this guy-the vast majority of shows I play are in punk houses to punks, and I'm aware of lots of other punk songwriters who don't want to be relegated to coffeehouses and bookstores.
The music on Roger Manning's 1988 SST debut is spare to say the least. Most songs feature only Roger's voice and guitar (with snare drum added to a few songs), but you wouldn't know it. Manning's sound is a near-perfect synthesis of folk and punk, bombastic acoustic guitar below sometimes-ironic, always politically-charged lyrics. The sound of Old New York set to music, you can almost smell the filthy 1980's Lower East Side.
One of Roger's later albums displays a letter addressed to the singer from the proprietor of a coffeeshop in Oregon. In the letter, the addressor settles a debt for a recent gig, and then admonishes Manning for his foul language at said gig. "That may be common language where you're from," says the promoter,"but here on the West Coast, that kind of talk is wholly inappropriate. You should take that into consideration before booking future gigs in the West." I laugh to myself, thinking about what kind of chowderheaded promoter booked Roger Manning sight unseen, assuming he was just a folk singer, easy to tune out and read the Bible to.
I haven't yet had the chance to see Roger Manning perform, as he slowed down on gigs considerably, long before I came onto the scene. If the live show is anything like the albums-spare, brutal, electric, funny, vibrant-I can't fathom I'll be anything less than blown away.