Known as “Florida’s Troubadour,” Gamble Rogers was internationally renowned as a guitar virtuoso that perpetuated and popularized the traditions of songwriting, storytelling, and philosophical humor. Born in Winter Park, Florida in 1937, Rogers called St. Augustine his home and performed with Bob Patterson at Tradewinds Lounge, a spot well-loved by locals and visitors alike.
At ten years old, Rogers picked up a ukelele but traded it for a guitar when he became inspired by Merle Travis. He made his first appearance at the 1959 Florida Folk Festival and would go on to receive national exposure for his storytelling on TV programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, Tonight Show, and Hootenanny. His solo career was a great success with a movie role, a performance at Carnegie Hall, a regular spot on National Public Radio, and several commercial recordings. Rogers reached near-legendary status at Florida Folk Fest, often closing the program on Sunday nights.
On October 10, 1991, Gamble Rogers passed tragically trying to save a drowning swimmer in Flagler Beach. He was posthumously honored with a Kiwanis Award for Bravery and Carnegie Award for heroism. In 1993, he was given the Folk Heritage Award by the Department of State for his 30-year career, then inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1998 where he is called “the ambassador for Florida folk culture.”
Rogers had a profound influence on young musicians including local Sam Pacetti and American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, both mentored by Gamble Rogers. He and his wife Nancy loved exploring the outdoors, often biking and kayaking around Anastasia Island.
Gamble Rogers Folk Festival
Today, the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival celebrates his life and legacy with an annual concert series that brings singers, songwriters, storytellers, and Americana acts to St. Augustine, Florida.
The 28th Annual Folk Festival returns to the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on April 14-16, 2024 with four stages featuring performers.
Festival details will be announced soon. Visit the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival website for more.
Live from The Waterworks
On the third Saturday of each month from October 2023 through June 2024, the St. Johns Cultural Council and Gamble Rogers Folk Festival partner to present Live from The Waterworks — a new concert series to honor Rogers’s legendary balladry and storytelling that shaped American folk music.
The Waterworks was built in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Proceeds from the concert series will support the annual Gamble Rogers Music Festival, a key three-day event held in the Spring and in its 27th year.
“We are thrilled to present performances by some of America’s finest musicians at The Waterworks. Ticket prices are affordable for St. Augustine residents and visitors and we are honored to offer an outstanding line-up in collaboration with the Gamble Rogers Music Festival,” said Christina Parrish Stone, Executive Director of the St. Johns Cultural Council.
“Our nonprofit cultural organization continues to raise awareness about Gamble Rogers, his connections to St. Johns County, and the contributions he made to the music scene here and across the country. We’ll share stories about Gamble at the concerts and with local students who attend related master classes.”
Gamble’s daughter, Lolly Rogers, is pleased to recognize arts education which is vital to the missions of both the Cultural Council and the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival. “Festival events continue to celebrate a man who is so near and dear to so many people in the community. The music will honor the specific genre of composition as it is crucial to our American history and the legacy of my father who passed away 31 years ago. In his 30-year career, he is one of the South’s most well-known folk musicians.”
The concert schedule will be announced soon.
Doors open at 6:30 PM and the acts perform at 7 PM.
Ticket prices for the first three performances begin at $20. Concert series packages are also available and include preferred seating and complimentary beverages.
The Gamble Rogers Folk Festival Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization in St. Augustine and is established to commemorate Americana folk music.