Jimmie Rodgers events
Book signing: Noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, Ballard & Call, 408 N.E. Fourth Ave.
Concerts: 3 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, Journey Community Church, 304 N.E. Fourth Ave. Tickets are now available at Ballard & Call.
When Marquita Call, co-owner of Ballard & Call in Camas, answered her phone and heard the man on the other end identify himself as Jimmie Rodgers, she was beside herself with excitement.
“No! Get out of town! Are you for real?” she said to him. “I just can’t believe this is happening.”
Rodgers is one of Call’s favorite musicians and, in her view, “Camas royalty.”
Camas-born Rodgers is a successful singer, songwriter and author and rose to fame in the 1950s with his hit single “Honeycomb,” which stayed at Number 1 on the charts for 7 weeks.
Rodgers had several other songs climb high on the charts, including “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” “Oh Oh, I’m Falling in Love Again,” and “Secretly.”
He also had his own TV show and appeared in several movies.
Rodgers will be performing two concerts and appearing at a book signing event during his visit to Camas.
He will sign his autobiography, “Dancing on the Moon,” from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 24 at Ballard & Call, 408 N.E. Fourth Ave. Books can be purchased at the store for $35.
On Sept. 25, Rodgers will hold two performances titled “One Man Show” beginning at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Journey Community Church, 304 N.E. Fourth Ave. Tickets cost $20 for adults and are on sale at Ballard & Call. Tickets for kids ages 12 and younger are free.
A silent auction will be held at the concerts with merchandise donated from Camas merchants. The proceeds will benefit the Camas-Washougal Meals on Wheels program.
Rodgers will also meet with students at Skyridge Middle School.
Rodgers, who is traveling from California to visit his brother, is thrilled to visit and perform in his hometown.
“Camas has always been my favorite place,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
He will play his hits at the concert, and for some of the songs he plans on walking through the audience and having them sing with him, which is one of his favorite ways to hold concerts.
Rodgers became interested in music at a young age. He undoubtedly had natural talent; he cannot read music, and never took lessons.
“If I heard a song, I could sit down and play it on the piano,” he said.
He admits that he is lucky, and encourages students who are interested in pursuing music to learn to read music.
After leaving Camas to fight in the Korean War, Rodgers moved to Nashville and worked in small bars, singing for $10 a night.
“I was very determined,” he said.
His big break came in 1957 with the release of “Honeycomb.” Rodgers said he was in Camas when he first heard himself singing the song on the radio. He had no idea it was going to be released; he hadn’t heard from the studio after he recorded the song.
He flew back to New York, recorded a bunch of songs, and his career took off.
Rodgers, who has loved writing since he was a kid, wrote his autobiography in five years. Luckily, he had kept diaries throughout the years of his career.
“My friends call me ‘the professor’ because I write everything down,” he said. “I read everything in the Camas library [as a kid]. I love words.”
His autobiography is a great read, Call said. She said the autobiography tells of Rodger’s young life, his experience in the music industry, and his brutal beating in California in the 1960’s.
“It’s a fascinating read,” she said. “You can’t put it down.”
Call has been working up a storm to get ready for Rodger’s arrival. After all, he is royalty.
“I always tell people, I’m from Camas, Washington, home of Jimmie Rodgers.”