Clevelander Maura Rogers Brings Life Experience to New CD, Beachland Show Saturday


Maura Rogers is relatively new to the area music scene — she started to get her name out about six-seven years ago at open mics. A few years on the singer-songwriter circuit culminated in a 2010 solo album Get Up Girl. Soon after that, she began working with additional musicians, leading to the five-piece Maura Rogers & the Bellows. That lineup, together for two years, recorded A Good Heart Will Break, which they’ll release with a show at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday night at the Beachland Tavern.

“It was such a transition,” says Rogers. “I thought, ‘Holy hell, this is hard work.’ It was so much more sound.”

Rogers took up songwriting over a decade ago in college at Baldwin-Wallace’s noted music theater program. She worked for Great Lakes Theater Festival after college, working on an Ohio history play based on stories told by people from across the state.

“It was one of the most important jobs I’ve done with my life,” she says. “ Storytelling is part of who I am and oral history is one way of doing that. Writing songs is another. She says that while her writing is influenced by artists ranging from Patty Griffin and Cyndi Lauper to Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and Nina Simone, “Life experiences shape the way I tell stories.”

“Being last of nine children I grew up watching my brothers and sisters and learning a lot about relationships,” she says. “Music was always a part of our home. It became a way of expression for me. As far as I can remember I was always singing. It was part of who I was.”

A less upbeat but still influential part of her experience is the kidney transplant she’ll have soon after the CD release show, putting her out of commission for a to-be-determined period.

“You’ll hear it on some of the tracks,” she says. “I’m looking at life with bigger, deeper perspective, not just love songs. Having to accept that somebody else is going to save my life, there will probably be a whole new album on that alone. It’s a humbling experience. I struggled with why is this going on, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and the people in my life, about making the most of the situation you’re given.”

Even though she didn’t know her band members — drummer Dan Jankowski, guitarist Andy Laiskos, bassist Brent Stowe, and accordionist Meredith Pangrace — prior to playing with them and found them mostly through Craigslist, she says they’re her bulwark.

“We worked really hard knowing the time frame we had before I jump into the next period of my life,” she says. “Each member of the band has a real commitment to the project. I’ve known Meredith two years and she might be my kidney donor. She’s the best match I have so far.”

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