by Rogue Performers
Here are three more Rogue Performer Preview Articles-Can Death Be Staid by a Catchy Chorus, Walk Like A Man, & Witchdoctor.
Between now and Rogue Festival 2014 we will be featuring several of the performers who will be at this year’s festival, so keep watching for more! Also, we have a preview of the Festival itself in this week’s issue. And if that wasn’t enough, we will have show reviews and video interviews during this year’s Rogue Festival.
Can Death Be Staid With Blake Jones
“After my son’s accident this past summer, I kept a journal of feelings, spilled thoughts and scribbled quotes. These mad scratchings were the seeds that grew into the songs that form this show,” shared Jones, whose 18-year-old son was killed in a car crash just two blocks from their home in Kingsburg in June of 2013.
“What else was I going to do? I figured this would be my therapy: that maybe by digging down deep, attacking it from every angle, writing multiple songs, staring it all right in the face, I might be able to come out the other side with some understanding or acceptance.”
“No one who’s lived a few years has been able to avoid heartbreak. I’m hoping that by transforming this difficult subject into a collection of songs it might not only be healing to me, but healing and uplifting to the audience I share these songs with.”
“After sifting through these ideas and building them into songs for the last seven or eight months, I recently said to my wife, ‘I think I’ve just about exhausted this subject’. I’m hoping that maybe ‘exhausting it’ is the same as ‘dealing with it’.”
“Though I’ve taken on a few heavy subjects along the way (one year I did a show with my daughter about suburban sprawl, and once I did a solo show dealing with the touchy subjects of religion and politics), I think for the most part, people expect my music be upbeat musically and lyrically. That’s probably where the title of this show sprang from [Can Death Be Staid by a Catchy Chorus]. Can idealism, can an uplifting tune, can they make any difference? Can they carry any power when one slams head-on into the inevitable ‘Big Subjects’ of life…such as ‘Death’??”
Blake Jones studied music at Fresno State. He currently teaches music at Kings River Union School in Kingsburg. He has been involved in songwriting and playing in bands all of his life. He currently has several projects going. His own band, Blake Jones & the Trike Shop plays all over the state and has toured the UK twice. He also plays in a slightly avant-garde group called TriOblique that, along with partners John Shafer on percussion and Ellie Choate on the classical harp, includes Jones on an archaic, antique electronic instrument called the Theremin. He can also be occasionally found playing in the long-running, Fresno-based Beatle tribute-band called The Beetles. Jones has been one of the Rogue Festival’s volunteers and organizers since the festival’s inception in 2002.
Can Death be Staid by a Catchy Chorus is a one-man show by singer/songwriter Blake Jones. It is making its debut at this year’s Rogue Performance Festival. It plays four times at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave. in Fresno’s Tower District. Admission is 5 (Rogue) dollars. The show times and dates are:
Saturday, 3/1 @12:15 p.m.
Sunday, 3/2 @2:45 p.m.
Thursday, 3/6 @6:30 p.m.
Friday, 3/7 @9:00 p.m.
More info on Jones’ music can be found at his website.
Hearing Lost, Inspiration Found, Walk Like A Man
(Adventures of a hearing impaired folk singer on the fringe)
By Randy Rutherford
“A blind person loses their connection to things, a deaf person loses their connection to people.” –Helen Keller
It’s the mid ‘70s in Alaska and I’m a folksinger in my early 20s, making 150 bucks a night headlining at the Fancy Moose Saloon. I’m driving a bright orange Karmann Ghia convertible–probably the only convertible in Alaska–and I’m adored by my beautiful girlfriend, Molly. So I’ve pretty much got it made; God is shining on me. Then one night I’m on stage, playing guitar and singing and it’s almost like a panic attack comes on; the sound in the room totally changes, I get really disoriented and stop playing. People come up asking what’s wrong…but all I’m hearing is gibberish and this loud ringing in my ears.”
The doctor’s diagnosis was clear: “Mr. Rutherford, you have a congenital hearing loss and we think it’s progressive. There’s no telling when you might go completely deaf. If I were you I’d find a different career.”
Like any normal person, I naturally fell into a dark, howling depression. I broke up with the adorable Molly, stopped performing, locked myself in a tiny trailer house and started stuffing myself with chocolate-covered Ho Ho’s, while watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island and lamenting, “Oh God, why me?”
Months later, Molly left a small set of watercolor paints on my doorstep and I started painting. I figured I could always make music visually on paper, just in case I went completely deaf. For many years after that, I earned my living and won awards as a watercolorist; I loved it, but eventually realized that painting alone, coupled with the isolation of my hearing loss, wasn’t doing me any good. I had to get out and try to reconnect with people.
One day after moving back to California, I got my guitar out of the closet and started playing again; amazingly, my fingers remembered how to play and I discovered I could still hear it if it was very quiet. After weeks of practicing, I finally got up enough nerve to play at this local sidewalk café–and before I got through my first song, total strangers started tapping their feet and flashing warm smiles at me.
However, I soon realized I’d lost too much hearing to perform in a professional way. Clubs and coffee houses with noisy backgrounds were impossible for me, but then, by accident or providence, I wandered into San Francisco’s Marsh Theatre and discovered the art of solo theatre performance. With the miracle of state-of-the-art digital hearing aids and a quiet, attentive theater audience, I found I could still hear well enough to play guitar, sing and tell stories. It was like being reborn.
For over a decade now, I’ve been performing my musical monologs on the North American Fringe Theater Circuit. Not only has it enabled me to develop a string of critically acclaimed hit shows, but most of all it has allowed me to reconnect with people, and when it’s working, it’s wonderful. On stage I’m not disabled, alienated or hearing impaired; I’m the guy who manages to transcend my hearing loss and have the most amazing connection to a room full of strangers. There’s nothing quite like it–somehow, I’ve become the life of the party again, like I’m back at the Fancy Moose. I feel blessed.
It’s true that I have lost most of my hearing–I’m now considered legally deaf–and, like many individuals with profound hearing loss, I still feel isolated and left out of most social situations. I never gave up on my dream and I’ve managed to find new inspiration and connection performing on the Fringe circuit. I love the Fringe as it lets me live a normal life again. With that in mind, please come join me at this year’s Rogue Festival, where I’m performing my latest musical memoir, Walk Like A Man.
Walk Like a Man is the story of my youth, back when I was the smallest boy at Weaverville High School. I had a reputation as the nicest boy in school–really, it’s in the year book–but all my much bigger, cooler buddies were ogling all the “hot chickie babes” and pressing me to learn how to score…and walk like a man. It was a huge challenge, because the girls were all a whole head taller than me. I kept remembering my promise to my Grandma Katie, vowing to stay pure for my one and only, singing that Nat King Cole song over and over: “When I fall in love, it will be forever…”
Then it happened: I saw Bunny at the local roller rink, twirling in her powder blue tutu. She invited me out behind the rink and, there in the moonlight, her face glowing like an angel, she taught me how to kiss…on roller skates. “Randy, relax your lips. Don’t press your lips together so tight.” True, she taught me to kiss that night, but Bunny also helped me learn how to walk like a man.
Randy Rutherford’s latest musical monolog Walk Like A Man is playing at the Neighborhood Thrift stage at 353 East Olive Blvd. Tickets: $10 Fringe Bucks
Show times are:
3/1 Saturday 9:30 p.m.
3/2 Sunday 5:00 p.m.
3/6 Thursday 9:30 p.m.
3/7 Friday 9:30 p.m.
3/8 Saturday 8:00 p.m.
Witchdoctor is a creation from the mind of Christopher Thisse. Subtitled “Bizarre feats of spiritual and mental energies” it consists of strange phenomenon and skills, the likes of which have not been seen in the central valley for some time, at least, not as entertainment. Described as “Something not seen outside the alleys of New Orleans or San Francisco,” it promises an experience that will be talked about in whispers.
Christopher created this show out of a desire to combine his fascinations with ghost stories, psychology, psychic powers, archaic horror a la Lovecraft and hypnotism. From growing up in a supposedly haunted house, in a supposedly haunted town and in close proximity to one of southern PA’s most haunted areas, Rehmeyer’s Hollow, Christopher has acquired a distinct love of ghost stories. “There’s just something about a story that makes the hairs on my arm stand up. I can’t get enough!”
That love of ghost stories is what led him to study the history and practices of witchcraft throughout his teens and a desire to learn about energy work led him to study multiple styles of martial arts. Finally, a love of the mind compelled him to study psychology and eventually lead to the study of hypnosis.
His performance experience started around 2000 when he was introduced to the “Flow arts” through Poi spinning. He taught himself the art of fire spinning in his back yard and later developed the skills of fire-breathing following the advice of coaches. He took those skills to Providence, RI, where he was asked to join a small circus troupe named Lub Dub, a project of the Providence Circus School. There he honed his acrobatics skills and learned to juggle among many other skills as needed. He performed with this troupe for two years at community events in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and also had a short stint as an instructor at the Circus School before moving to Fresno, CA.
In Fresno his performance career took a back seat until he connected with the world famous belly dancer, Cory Zamora. For two years he could be seen spinning and spitting flames at the Kearney Renaissance Fair for Zamora’s Gypsies. It was during this time he developed a passion for illusion and eventually the skills of the mind reader and fortune teller.
Now, drawing on all of his knowledge and fields of study, he is putting together his very first Rogue Performance: Witchdoctor.
See the show at Veni, Vidi, Vici at 1116 N Fulton St. in the Tower District. Show times are March 1 at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., March 6 at 9 p.m. and March 8 at 4 p.m.. The show is 5 Rogue Bucks which can be purchased at the Tower Theater or Livingstone’s.
Watch for more Rogue performer preview articles throughout the week in our Arts & Entertainment section!