by Jeff Bowman,
Wendy Berry, Mike Workman,
Jaguar Bennett, & Tim Mannix
It is almost time for Rogue Festival again–it will be taking place March 6-14 in the Tower District of Fresno. Throughout the month of February we will be publishing many Rogue Festival performer preview articles. This year we have added a special category where you will be able to find all of our Rogue Festival articles. During Rogue we will be reviewing shows as usual, and we also have a Rogue Festival event page with more information!
Five Rogue Shows From Local Performers-The Return of The Last Pioneer, Casey’s Story: Missing, Flower Tome Companion Episode IV: The Rise of Umberto, Jaguar and Heather Can Save Your Marriage, and Gobsmacked: The Magic of Tim Mannix
Jeff Bowman and Billie Murphy
by Jeff Bowman
Born in Lynwood, California, in 1950, Jeff Bowman dreamed of becoming a musician, making films, and being a storyteller for as long as he can remember. Jeff grew up in Fresno, California, and after a long and winding road, attended and graduated from Fresno State with a degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting in 1974. In his last year in college, Jeff joined the band The Wild Blue Yonder as their percussionist. In six years that band produced two albums and a lot of good times. Along the way Jeff performed with his partner Paul McAdam under the banner of the Thundering Tuna Comedy Revue. Jeff eventually left the WBY and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music and acting career. Jeff worked with his good friend singer songwriter Randy Sharp in the Randy Sharp Band and also worked in film and television. Besides acting, Jeff also worked in set decoration.
Jeff returned to Fresno and taught film making, music, and English at Roosevelt School of The Arts for the next twenty years. It was during this time he began to develop his show The Last Pioneer. The show tells the story of his life with his beloved Grandmother, Billie Murphy. Mrs. Murphy was the first female fire lookout for the San Bernardino National Forest. She began that job at the age of forty-six, in 1946, working that post for the next twenty-one years.
Today in the Rogue Festival performances, Jeff features a wonderful acoustic band comprised of Dean MacDonald, Phil Wimer, John Shafer, and Ray Haney. They help Jeff tell a wonderfully heartwarming story about love and learning and his summer of 1957 when he lived at the Keller Peak fire lookout with his Grandmother.
Jeff has also written a graphic novel, How The Light Gets In and publishes a magazine, The Last Pioneer, which is a chronicle of his childhood spent with his grandmother Billie Murphy.
Shows and times: March 6th 6:45 pm Friday, March 8th 1:45 pm, March 12th
8:30 pm, March 14th 5:30 pm.
Performances at Spectrum Art Gallery in the
Tower District, Fresno, Ca.
Casey’s Story: Missing
By Wendy Berry
Every year at the Rogue festival I watch numerous shows and am in awe and moved at the stories I hear told. Artists pouring their hearts out through music, dance, and spoken word. I go home inspired to do the same. But think, what can I say to people to inspire and move them just as I have been?
I have a normal, boring life. I work in the veterinary field and grew up in the small town of Reedley, California. Certainly not what I would consider an artist, actor, musician, or writer. However, I do have a story. I have a brother; his name is Casey. And I have amazingly talented friends and family. And this is how I ended up with a Rogue show this year.
You see, my brother Casey and I grew up together in the blossom trail filled countryside of Reedley. It had very different effects on each of us, and definitely different outcomes. Mine, led me to Fresno, and a life of veterinary medicine. His, led him to Colorado and the beauty of the world. My story is still evolving, while his is on hold as he has been an Endangered Missing Person since February 14, 2007.
For thirteen years, myself and my family have dealt with the devastating life that is one of the families of a missing person. Is he dead? Will we ever find him? Was he murdered? Are we in danger? Obviously there is a large amount of grief, and this changes the persons we are.
My grief led me to my Rogue family. I needed to see beauty and art and love and talent. My grief also brought me closer to other family members who have helped me through this time. Namely, I am so lucky to have Blake Jones as my cousin! He brought me into the Rogue family, and this show was his idea.
He said last year, “Hey, what would you think of doing a show with me about your brother?” And that was it, that’s how we got here!
Together, myself, Blake Jones, and friend Scott Hatfield have put together a show full of original songs with lyrics about life, loss, and looking at the world in a way my brother would have appreciated. I have been so very honored at the work and creativity Scott and Blake have put into the music they have created for me and this show. I love it, and I know you will too!
I have never performed before. But we have put together a show about my brother Casey and my heart dealing with him being gone. I am offering it for all who will listen. I am excited and terrified to share my story with you. It has been very therapeutic to me to write about Casey and feel closer to him than I ever have.
Losing a family member like this, you never get over. But you do find ways to cope, and art had been a pretty cool way for me. I hope I can inspire someone else to find peace in art as I have.
We will be performing Casey’s story four nights only at Veni Vedi Vici and at an Artist Underground venue of Studio 74. Tickets are $5.
Veni Vidi Vici
Friday, March 6 at 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 at 3 p.m.
Flower Tome Companion, Episode IV: The Rise of Umberto
By Mike Workman
Like many ideas that originate from a group of buddies at happy hour, Flower Tome Companion (FTC) was conceived by a group of guys sitting around drinking beer and talking about crazy things. As our group coalesced into “Five Guys Drinking Beer Productions,” we started to take seriously the nonsense we were discussing. Now, after three successful episodes, the group has gathered together one more time for another episode of FTC.
FTC is a loosely-based parody of the radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, although it has developed its own personality with its cult-like status, thanks to friends and family and others that have followed all three of the previous shows. The format is a staged live performance of a variety radio show, complete with skits, musical acts, sound effects, and ridiculous fake commercials. The setting is the mythical “Flower District” where things are always just a shade off!
The original concept was an idea by Mike Workman, but it has truly transformed into a group effort. Don Weaver, an original one of the five guys, has taken a much greater role in the writing process over this and the last episode. Weaver and Workman were joined by John Alden and Mike Golding as part of the writing team of this episode. It has grown in to our own imaginary world, filled with fun characters.
It takes more than good writing, and FTC is packed with talented local musicians and skilled personnel for every facet of the production. We are fortunate to have Vince Warner returning to the cast along with the fantastic Debi Ruud and first timer Nate Butler. Also sharing first timer status with Nate is Jeff Rash. FTC has always had one of the largest casts of any Rogue performance and had many sell out performances in the past.
In addition to the ever growing list of amazing musicians in the FTC family, the large cast gives attention to details and puts their touch on the collaborative effort! From sound effects to jingles to lighting and costumes, FTC has a home team edge that has had audiences coming back for more.
Flower Tome Companion, Episode IV: The Rise of Umberto tells the tale of a character that has been central to each of the previous three episodes. The lead character, Umberto, assists his cousin who is looking for a change in his career. As Umberto gets down to addressing his cousin’s struggles, they both get a good glimpse of life in the Flower District and the wackiness that encompasses.
The fellas at the pub return for this episode as they come to grips with this new decade. They discuss all sorts of challenges the future presents with that fraternal cohesion you frequently find at a favorite bar. The fellas have their sights square on the future and what 2020 has in store.
Whether you’ve seen one, two, or all three of the previous shows, even if you haven’t seen any of the shows, you are sure to be entertained by this episode of Flower Tome Companion. Come see why people are laughing and thrilled by truly wonderful music for an hour. Come on down where the fun never ends, “The Flower District!”
Your Marriage Sucks Because You Suck — But Jaguar and Heather Can Save You
Comedian Jaguar Bennett has tackled (and won) such topics as democracy, religion, and existentialism itself. Now he is confronted with a foe even he may not be able to conquer: his wife
Marriage is a struggling institution in America. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Increasingly, Americans are living alone, rather than trying to cope with the boredom of lifelong monogamy, the petty demands of trying to appease a tyrannical spouse, and the incessant, goddamn, why-the-hell-won’t-they-shut-up-and-give-me-a-moment-of-peace whining that characterizes American marriage.
Marriage as an institution is in trouble, but the husband-and-wife comedy team of Jaguar Bennett and Heather Parish have the solution: Your relationships suck because you suck. You’re doing marriage wrong, and Jaguar and Heather will teach you how to do it right.
Together for ten years and still talking to each other, Jaguar and Heather, America’s Perfect Couple™, have developed infallible rules for a happy marriage, and they have consented to share them with you, the pathetically lonely lovelorn masses, in their new comedy show, Jaguar and Heather Save Your Marriage, premiering Saturday, March 7, at the 2020 Rogue Festival.
Marriage isn’t about your feelings. It isn’t about a happy life. It isn’t, God forbid, about being nice to each other. Jaguar and Heather say that marriage is a strategic partnership in which two people put up with each other’s maddeningly annoying habits in order to desperately cling to the fantasy that you won’t die alone.
Jaguar and Heather will demonstrate, in their comedy and their lives, that being married isn’t about being happy, but successfully conforming to social expectations. Remember, kids, you can’t have heteronormativity without being normal.
Taking a refreshingly practical and unsentimental attitude toward an ancient institution, “Jaguar and Heather Save Your Marriage” will show how you and your spouse can get more from your marriage by recognizing it as a never-ending battle for personal supremacy, as demonstrated by charming vignettes of Jaguar and Heather’s own domestic bliss through superior firepower.
Jaguar and Heather will show you how to improve your marriage in the key areas of:
—Getting the last word in: No domestic dispute is really over until you have completely humiliated your spouse.
—Training for obedience: Why would you expect less of a spouse than you would of a pet? Learn easy tricks for making your wife or husband respond to your command.
—Emotional abuse-how to give it and how to take it: More than anything, a marriage depends on honesty, which almost always is the exact opposite of kindness.
—Sex within marriage: Jaguar and Heather have heard rumors of this rare phenomenon. In the unlikely event your spouse still finds you attractive, they’ll give you exciting tips for cooling your lover’s ardor so you can watch TV in peace.
The most terrifyingly honest show in the 2020 Rogue Festival, Jaguar and Heather Save Your Marriage won’t just make you laugh — it will make you willing to settle. Be sure to see it with someone you pretend to love!
WHAT: “Jaguar and Heather Save Your Marriage” comedy performance at the 2020 Rogue Festival.
WHO: Jaguar Bennett, comedian and husband, and Heather Parish, actor and wife.
WHERE: Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton, Fresno, CA 93728
WHEN: Saturday, March 7, at 9:15 p.m.; Sunday, March 8 at 4:15 p.m.; Thursday, March 12, at 8:30 p.m.; and Saturday, March 14, at 6:45 p.m. (Plus special secret show Friday, March 13, at 8:30 p.m. at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave.)
TO BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE: Visit roguefestival.ticketleap.com
Gobsmacked: The Magic of Tim Mannix
By Tim Mannix
Rogue veteran and award-winning comedy magician Tim Mannix returns with his unique blend of humor, prestidigitation, and off-beat offerings to the Rogue Festival 2020 commencing March 6 with 5 performances. Here’s what he had to say about his upcoming show, Gobsmacked.
My goal in presenting Gobsmacked is to create a show that weaves comedy and magic into a warm-fuzzy ball of satisfaction for my audiences. I was bitten by the magic bug when I was eight-years-old and have been performing in some capacity ever since.
At age eleven, my dad bought me a utility shed, which I promptly constructed in the backyard. It was to become my little magic get-a-way, a refuge, removed from the world and packed with tricks, props, magic books, and paraphernalia that I’d purchased with my paper route money. I could now keep all my secrets under lock and key, away from prying eyes, like my older brothers who had formerly taken any opportunity to gleefully mess with my props.
In those days, we learned one-on-one either with a mentor, or we learned directly from books, which required concentration and helped to develop the hand-to-eye coordination that cemented the sleight of hand moves better in my mind. Today, the majority of practitioners learn from DVDs, which I believe to be less effective.
Having now performed in a dozen theater and fringe festivals, I’m a firm believer in their value for a wholly different experience than what I’ve often become accustomed to. Fringe festivals started after World War II and are continually gaining prevalence with theater-going audiences worldwide. They’re great because as individual performers, we’re often hired by a company or single individual to entertain at their event. Guests at these events may well enjoy our performances, but they don’t personally have anything invested in us. We are essentially just part of the scenery.
But, with Fringe Festivals, since most of the shows feature original material, audience members are putting their hard-earned cash on the barrel, in the form of admission, and taking a risk on a show they’ve never seen. So, when I receive great reactions or reviews from audiences, it has a more direct impact on me and is far more personally and professionally gratifying. Also, I’ve found that festival audiences tend to be very generous and distinctly honest in their reviews.
In 2018, I had the pleasure of participating in the Nugget Fringe in Grass Valley, California. It was a relatively new festival, and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. Historic downtown Grass Valley has many Gold Rush-era buildings, and I got a chance to perform at the Holbrooke, a hotel that had once hosted Mark Twain (one of my heroes), five U.S. Presidents, and many other dignitaries of the day. The audiences were gracious, and I got some of the very best feedback from audiences I’d ever experienced.
During the run, Scott Ewing, one of the festival producers, said, “This show has comedy, magic, and more heart than you’d expect, don’t miss it!” At the conclusion of the festival I was awarded a golden nugget for the “Most Polished Performance” award, which delighted me beyond words.
My performance style is humorous, so I bill myself as a comedy magician and mentalist. Personally, I can’t imagine performing magic or anything else, with a serious demeanor or playing the quintessential serious or dead-pan conjuror. Besides, injecting humor makes it so much more fun and engaging for everyone.
In 2004, I got to realize a lifelong ambition of performing at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and have been regularly performing there ever since. Quite honestly, it’s a thrill to be asked back each year. My day job is touring California with four educational school assembly programs geared to elementary students. And, although I used to daydream about the Golden Age of Magic with the large tour shows like Blackstone and Dante, I’ve actually become a miniature version of that touring magician of old. When on tour, I can often see that same “wow factor” in kids’ eyes that I too had as a youth. It really makes my heart sing!
This year at the Rogue Festival I present Gobsmacked, and its sole purpose is to make you exit the theater asking yourself whether you just saw a MAGIC show with comedy or a COMEDY show with magic. Reviewer Marc Gonzalez, who attended last summer’s mini-Rogue Festival, had this to say about my show:
“Sore cheeks from laughter. Rogue staple Tim Mannix delivers a tour-de-force performance. When the show is done, the audience leaves satisfied having been thoroughly impressed by Mr. Mannix’s subtle and grand magic tricks. It’s a lighthearted venture into the magical world of a stellar performer—all on a train of non-stop laughs.”
Gobsmacked is rated “H” for hilarious. Recommend for ages eight and above.
Hart’s Haven Used Bookstore, 950 N Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93728.
Tickets are $12.
Buy Online at: tim-mannix-productions.ticketleap.com/gobsmacked
Show times are: Saturday, March 7 @ 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 8 @ 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 12 @ 7:30 p.m.; Friday, March 13 @ 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 14 @ 3:30 p.m.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.