Love songs for a friend

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Tribute pays homage to ‘piano man’ Bob Rogers

Denton parodist Donna Trammell said her recent project, a tribute to beloved Denton pianist and University of North Texas professor emeritus Bob Rogers, earned the most honest standing ovation the writer and performer has ever gotten.

And it probably had the most humble beginnings of any of Trammell’s many musical parodies.

Trammell worked with the late pianist for 20 years creating fundraising musicals that were mostly humorous and often poignant. Coined as the Trammell Group, a revolving roster of performers would sing Trammell’s send-ups, set to very familiar tunes.

Bob Rogers was as much of an anchor as Trammell, seated at the piano and propelling favorite local singers such as Kay Lamb, Peggy Capps and funnyman Lindsay Keffer through songs.

“Every year, the Denton women’s club schedules me to give a presentation. … They usually have guests in to do book reviews,” Trammell said. “Well, when they started asking me to participate in the luncheons, I’d do one of our shows with Bob.”

Rogers died at age 91 last May. When Trammell got a call reminding her she’d agreed to bring music to the Denton City Federation of Women’s Clubs, she decided to honor one of the most important men in her life.

“Bob was a really accomplished musician, but you’d never know it because he didn’t talk about himself. He loved working with volunteers and he didn’t tell them about all of these wonderful things he experienced,” Trammell said.

“For instance, he never talked about the time he worked with Frank Sinatra,” she said.

Like the proverbial bolt out of the blue, Trammell said the idea for the tribute, “September Songs,” hit her.

She put together a show of Sinatra songs that not only constitute a musical biography of Bob, but wrote a love letter to the pianist from the people he loved and who still love him. The tribute was presented at a book review luncheon, and the audience was so moved — and so many were turned away because all seats were booked — that a reprise seemed called for. It’s on the calendar for Oct. 10.

“The women’s club wanted to do it again,” Trammell said, “and really, so did I.”

BENEFIT SHOW

What: “September Songs: The Life and Times of Robert J. (Bob) Rogers,” a wine and cheese benefit for the Denton City Federation of Women’s Clubs

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10

Where: Woman’s Club Building, 610 Oakland St.

Details: Admission is $20. For reservations, e-mail Kit King at kitking940@yahoo.com or call 214-395-6078 by Monday.


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