It’s always a treat to encounter talented young bluegrass artists – even more when they already have a personality for the stage as a teen. One such is Braxton Rogers from Oklahoma, who has a passion for both banjo and bow ties!
In 1941, Marvel Comics introduced the Captain Marvel storyline. Comparing the spirit of Braxton to Captain Marvel, you can see a pure at heart teen transforming into a superhero… a super hero of banjo?
The son of Angel and Mike Rogers, of Lawton, OK, his mom shared about her prodigy, “Braxton has always a thing for bow-ties.” A bow tie has become his signature, as he is seldom seen performing without one. Mike, a military veteran of 21 years, and his family have been traveling the east coast of the US, and homeschooling Braxton who is going into his junior year of high school. I first met the Rogers at Banjofest in 2022, and have kept up with Braxton’s journey since then down bluegrass road. And It has been a fierce one!
Lucas Ross, Outreach & Promotion Director at the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City said that, “What Braxton has done on his own was amazing. His heart, his family support, just to watch the magic, Braxton has evolved into a Superhero- SHAZAM!” Ross also shared that at Banjofest 2021 at a jam session, he told Braxton’s mom, “Angel, your life is about to change.” And not only have his parents lives changed, but so has Braxton’s.
Young Rogers was introduced to Hee-Haw by his Pawpaw, Ray Mallow, and that, along with the sounds of Roy Clark’s banjo provided the seed that has bloomed into this superhero in the making.
At 13, Braxton took his new instrument (an open back Recording King) under his wing. After frustration set in from relying on YouTube and booklet instruction, he was fortunate to be led to Gary “Biscuit” Davis, 2020 5 string inductee into the Banjo Hall of Fame, with whom he studied for a year and a half. At the age of 14, Rogers attended the Kruger Brothers Music Academy, won first place on banjo at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in 2022, entertained at MerleFest, appeared on Woodsong Kids on PBS, and in 2023 was endorsed by Hardison Banjos.
Rogers explained how his relationship with the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival came about.
“Last summer while I was waiting in line to get an autograph of the Lonesome River Band, I met Mr. Ron Mashore, of the OIBF board. We had stood in line a long time and I had to leave. Mr. Ron found me the next day, gave me my autograph and tickets to attend the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival. My very first official contest was at OIBF.”
Relationships with Davis and The Krugers have opened doors for Braxton, but his talent will be what makes him the bluegrass hero, Shazam. Bow tie and all!”
He has also released a single EP, one he wrote called I Miss you to the Moon, where he picks the banjo and sings about his first love, Annie. She is also homeschooled and travels with her family. At times, they gather at campgrounds when they are in the same area, and jam.
The song is based on a moon necklace that was given to Annie. “God gave me the song. I wrote it all in one week and composed the music.”
As you can hear in this toe-tapping tune, young love has had a profound impact. But faith plays an equally important role in Rogers’ life. On his custom-designed deck shoes is written Psalm 150:4, his favorite scripture. “Praise him with strings.” The same inscription is also found on his banjo strap.
You can find his single from the usual download and streaming services online.
Although focused on his future with the banjo, Braxton doesn’t falter far from his relationship with God. “God guides me. I will be attending Falls Creek for my first time next week, and I am taking my banjo and guitar to church camp. I will be writing a gospel bluegrass song in my future.”
Now for a young man to be all the above, you might find yourself pondering what else can this kid do! I spoke with Ryan Hardison of Hardison Banjos for an answer to that question.
Hardison: I am excited to be endorsing younger banjo players. That’s where the future will be.
Tucker: Why did you choose Rogers to endorse?
H: Braxton was chosen because of his humbleness, he has a respect for traditional bluegrass music. His mindset speaks for itself.
T: What does an endorsement through Hardison entail?
H: I give my endorsees a banjo to use as their main instrument. If they play a Hardison consistently, and like it, then the instrument is theirs to keep.
Braxton dropped by Ryan Hardison’s last week and picked up his curly maple red sunburst archtop #20 last week.
Relationships with Davis, The Krugers, Hardison, and others have opened doors for Rogers, but his talent will be what makes him a bluegrass hero!