WRITTEN BY EMILY KIMBELL
Music is a central part of American life, and that is no exception for Cowetans, many of whom choose to make music their career, even though a difficult and saturated industry significantly lowers the odds of making it big.
Those odds don’t stop three local bands—Trio, Lerogie and Kiser— from following their passion.
The three Coweta County-based bands are in different spots in their musical careers.
Trio, an acoustic cover band based in Newnan, consists of veteran musicians Joel Mangrum, vocals/drums; Kenny Lee Rogers, lead vocals/guitar; and Nick Lott, guitar. They describe themselves as a family-friendly, fun-loving band that covers every genre of music from country to rock to Disney.
Lerogie Sims of Newnan considers himself first a guitarist and then a vocalist. After a successful career as a guitarist in other bands,
Lerogie now performs as a rock/R&B artist doing both solo acoustic shows and full band shows with local musicians.
The band Kiser has turned their music pursuit into a family affair with mother and children sharing the stage. The Sharpsburg family band exudes talent with matriarch Aundie Kiser as the keyboardist; Christian Kiser as guitarist, violinist, bassist and singer; and Melody Kiser as singer, lead songwriter, guitarist and saxophonist. The rock band features Gary Hebert on drums.
Though each band has had different experiences, the musicians have much in common. Each shares a love for music that started at an early age.
The members of Kiser have a genetic predisposition for music; they say it’s in their blood. Aundie has played music her whole life. Her grandfather sang in a gospel music group, and her dad played the organ. Christian and Melody followed suit with Christian picking up the violin and Melody learning saxophone; however, guitar was the real passion for both siblings.
Sims was 10 when he started teaching himself to play guitar, and he received his first instructional book at age 13. He fell in love with the music business hard and fast.
“I started playing for pay when I was 12,” he says. “I made my first hundred bucks, and I was hooked. Since that gig, I was playing somewhere every single weekend.”
Now as seasoned performers, the artists say it’s the audience that truly inspires them.
“When we stand behind the mic, we are there to entertain,” says Trio’s Mangrum.
Rogers adds: “But the audience entertains us, too, with the dancing, stomping their feet, bobbing their head, and singing along.”
Audience interaction is key, and Mangrum advises, “Go out into the crowd and talk to them, get to know them. They will come back and see you. That’s how you get your following.”
Rogers says it isn’t always about huge crowds; sometimes a gig is worthwhile because of one person.
“We ran into an older gentleman, and his wife had passed away,” he says. “He wanted to know if we could play their song. It’s really humbling—those type of situations. It doesn’t matter what happens the whole night. That one song for that one person makes it all worth it.”
Aundie, Melody and Christian feel similarly about their fans.
“Kiser fans are the best fans in the world,” says Aundie. “We know we have lifelong friends. There are faces out there we recognize from show to show.”
That isn’t to say that being a local band doesn’t have its downsides.
“I feel like the title of ‘local band’ is difficult because it’s hard to get constant traction,” says Melody.
While Kiser and Lerogie agree the Coweta County audience is a great one, they say it can be difficult to inspire local fans to come to every show. “I have a killer fan base in Newnan, but they know they can catch me any time,” says Lerogie.
Despite the obstacles, each band strives toward its goals.
Trio wants to keep performing for personal enjoyment. “We stay as busy as we want to be,” says Mangrum. “We have no desire to make it big. We’ve already been down that road. For us, it’s just fun.”
Lerogie focuses his efforts on songwriting: “If I could fill a room with 100 people who are there to hear my music, I wouldn’t be mad at that at all. I want to see if I’m the kind of artist that can come up with music that people want to hear.”
Kiser is ready for the next phase in their career. They were invited performers for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Rock Tour in January and will be opening for a number of large acts this year.
All view music as an outlet for expression.
“It’s addictive,” says Trio’s Lott. “And we don’t know how to not do this.”