by Terrance Mc Arthur
What’s a Rogue Festival?
Fresno’s 12th Annual Rogue Performance Festival, February 28 to March 9, is the largest Fringe-type festival west of the Mississippi.
It’s music & dance & theatre & art & puppets & comedy & improvisation & just about anything else that can fit on a stage or a wall.
As for stages, it takes place in restaurants, bars, a vocal studio, galleries, a thrift shop breweries, dance studios, and more. Most of it happens in the Tower District, but the fun stretches downtown, too.
It’s bigger than Fresno. There are performers from the Bay Area, Southern California, Canada, and other parts of this blue marble of a world.
I love the Rogue Festival. I have attended shows, performed in shows, written shows, and reviewed shows. Last year, I saw 19 shows in a week-and-a-half. Let me share a few of the things I look forward to seeing in the 2013 edition of one of the coolest parts of living around Fresno. I may not get to all of them, but I’ll try.
Boxcar Figaro—Victor DesRoche and crew play rootsy, original folk, and occasionally slide into an old standard that starts sounding brand new.
Songs 4 Pints—a joke of an idea that has become a Rogue fixture. Buy them drinks, and they will sing Celtic/Irish/Scottish songs, plus a secret song or two that will blow your mind.
Scats on the Sly—It’s Mallory Moad singing good old love songs and novelties, backed by a string jazz combo and—this time—visuals!
The Suicide Lounge Dirty Song Sing-Along—Nate, Joy, and RP will cheerfully deliver some of the raunchiest songs to make a sailor blush…and beware of the kitty. NOT for children!
Pipes on the Hob—Great Celtic instrumentals and songs with harp, fiddle, bodhran, keyboard, spoons, hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle, and more…and only four people!
Bill McCrory & Friends—Bill is a terrific guy to get to know, and his harmonica music always makes me smile. With a bunch of fine musicians, you’ll get a headful of folk and home-fried blues.
Leigh Ratliff—Women Warrior Ballads is: A) songs of centuries past, B) stories of women dressing as men for adventure, glory, and love, C) lots of fun. The answer is: D) all of the above.
Spencer/Morris Duo—Each year, this guitar/sax pair present a different decade with original songs and commentary. This year, it’s 2000 to 2010. What’s next for these guys? Prophecies of the future?
The Excursions—A brand-new band of musicians who have been around for ages. Blues-rock-jazz-reggae-folk-originals-and-covers. Look at them and you’ll say, “I know her,” “I’ve seen him, before,” “Woah! He’s in this, too?”
Paddy Myers—Local theatre-goers would love to spend An Hour With an Irishman, if that Irishman is Paddy Myers singing traditional Irish ballads.
Return to the Planet of the Harp and Theremin—Ellie Choate plays the harp, and Blake Jones plays that weird electronic instrument you hear in the song “Good Vibrations” and on the soundtrack of 50s sci-fi films like Forbidden Planet. Odd, but interesting.
Ananka Dances Out of This World—The Ananka troupe was the first belly-dancing group I saw in the Valley. Their Rogue shows are fun and quirky, and the bodies look human. I don’t feel embarrassed watching them.
The 2nd Street Dancers—Fresyes! comes out of Selma. It’s a dance exploration of teens thinking there’s nothing to do in Fresno, and how their eyes are opened. I’m thinking Bernstein’s On the Town, with raisins.
To Dance, Inc—There’s a Hole in My Bucket: a perspective comes here from South Carolina, and I figure…anything with a choreographer named Terrance is worth a look.
More Power to Your Knitting, Nell—A young woman becomes a radio icon during World War II, encouraging knitting socks for soldiers, but she can’t knit! Melanie Gall (last year’s “The Sparrow and the Mouse”) is a great talent, and you’ll want to hear more of her. Speaking of which…
Ne Me Quitte Pas: Piaf and Brel, The Impossible Concert—Gall joins Bremner Duthie to bring Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel together in performance and history. This leads me to…
The Chaser, a one-man vaudeville musical—Duthie melds 30’s jazz songs and New Vaudeville wisecracks into a battle of Life and Death.
Loon—Mime, masks, and puppetry to create a magical theatre. That’s what Wonderheads does in their film clips, and I want to see it in person.
Answers!!! (or Something Similar)—Man meets his puppet son meets a crazy world of questions. Improv and strangeness for all. Two puppetry-related shows in one Rogue? Wow! I’d better dust off my shadow shows!
Never Own Anything You Have to Paint or Feed—Howard Petrick took on the Army in “Breaking Rank.” Now, welcome to the hobo jungle of his mind. It will be interesting.
Gary Has a Date—Emily Winder was the Poe in last year’s Poe & Mathews, and she brings her whimsical clowning to the dating world. I kicked myself for not seeing “P&M” earlier. Don’t have a reason to bruise your backside this year. By the way…
A Secret History of the World (As Told By Two Men Who Can’t Keep Secrets And Know Nothing About History)—Brian Kuwabara (Mathews of “P&M”) and Gabriel McKinney bring you millenia of Earth with improvisation, without a script, and without a net (No Funicellos were harmed in the making of this show!).
If I Could Tell Me—Strangers on the bleachers during a bomb threat. Jump Right In Productions is a strong group that makes interesting theatre.
Psyche Savage & All My Ghosts—Kate McKnight and loss, Grandma, alter egos, and more.
Gemma Wilcox, Tony Imperatrice, First Men of Promise, Sandra Risser, We All Hate You, Dancing with Demons, and you’d need to clone yourself to see all the good stuff at the 12th Annual Fresno Rogue Performance Festival!
If you would like to know more about the history of the Rogue Festival check out this 2011 article here in KRL: Rogue Festival Celebrates 10th Year! and check out this article with tips on attending Rogue from 2011: Doing De Rogue: A Guide To The Rogue Festival Through Its Vocabulary. Also in KRL this year we have already had several Rogue Preview articles by this year’s performers with more to come all of which can be found in our A & E section, have another Rogue tips article coming next week & will be reviewing several of the shows at Rogue during the Festival. You can also seeing promo from several of this year’s performers on our Rogue Event page.