The music of Rogue Festival 2023. A breakdown.
There's some musical storytelling, a queer pop opera and a post-rock electronic techno show.
The Rogue Festival kicked off its six-day run on Friday.
It’s is worth mention because many of Fresno’s artistic types keep time by the relative proximity of the annual fringe festival, which continues at various locations in the Tower District today before starting up again next Thursday to Saturday.
Here’s the quick rundown of how it works for those who need a reminder.
While the shows choices run the gamut of performing arts (spoken word, poetry, storytelling, magic, comedy, dance), for the sake of this newsletter we’ll keep focus on the musical.
Rising Mountain (7 p.m. March 10 and 3:30 p.m March 11 at Dianna’s Studio of Dance)
“Rising Mountain” is an original pop-opera from M the Myth. The show is a cultural journey, immigration story and family history. It is a queer interpretation of the performer’s grandmother and her escape from communist Laos.
M the Myth is a Fresnan who graduated with a theatre and performance from Stanford University and spent time in New York, working to help create awareness and space for LGBTQIA and other underrepresented artists. They were recently accepted into the Clinton Global Initiative University and attended its annual meeting in Nashville, Tn.
Brother Love’s Good Time Gospel Hour (5:30 p.m., March 10, 6:30 and 8 p.m. March 11 at Goldstein’s)
Noam Osband, performing here as Brother Love, is one of the fringe circuit performers that finds themselves returning to Fresno every year. So, there may be a built in audience who have seen him before. This is a music comedy/evangelical sermon.
Per the press bio: “Discover the dangers of sinful porn and learn about the healing powers of healthy, Christian porn.”
A Steel Drum, a Melodica and a Graphic Novel Walk into a Bar … (7 p.m. March 9 and March 10 at Goldstein’s)
Jeffery Bowman does original music and storytelling. Bowman is a musician about town, known for playing the steel drums hinted at in the show’s title. Here, he will be joined by musicians Raymond Gonzales, Ben Betita and Robin Seaberg and by poet Amber Olmo.
Worst. Rock-n-roll. Name. Ever (5:30 p.m. March 9 and 3:30 p.m. March 11 at Goldstein’s)
Mike Alexander should be well known to anyone who’s hit up an open mic around town recently. The multi-instrumentalist seems to sit in a lot. Here, Alexander is playing “songs you may know he probably knows,” along with some songs “you don’t know but probably should.”
This Music in Making Me Thirsty (5:30 p.m. March 10 and 2 p.m. March 11 at Spectrum Art Gallery)
You can’t beat a show title that’s a “Seinfeld” pun.
Tony Imperatrice is no stranger to fringe festivals (this one and others). Though he may be best known for his organ work, here he is an “old dude” with “cutting edge technology and a collection of ancient sounds” doing a “post rock live music experience like no other.”
Per one review: “Veteran Rogue performer, Imperatrice delivers once again. Even if you are not a fan of electronic techno influenced music. Good stuff!”
Ashes to Ashes: a Tragicomedy (3:30 p.m. tonight, 5:30 p.m. March 10 and 3:30 p.m. March 11 at Veni Vidi Vici)
Kate McKnight is a veteran in Fresno’s performing arts scene. Here, she presents a reinterpretation of a Rogue show she did in 2013, with the addition of Sarah Serafimidis (who lives in the East Bay) and Abigail Nolte. The two will function as a kind of musical Greek chorus throughout the storytelling.
There are also parts of several pop and rock songs to augment the storytelling. So, expect a sing along.
Blood Harmony (5 p.m. tonight, 8:30 p.m. March 10 and 5 p.m. March 11 at Veni Vidi Vici)
The title “Blood Harmony” speaks to the familial relationship of the performers, but also the content of the show. Here, The Murray Girls return to the Rogue Festival, again doing some old-timey family band stuff. Think “cheerfully macabre murder ballads, traditional tunes, Celtic songs and blues.”
RockOn! (8:30 p.m. March 9, 6:30 p.m. March 10 at Veni Vidi Vici).
Few bands have done the kind of gigging that RockOn! has, given the age of the bandmembers, who are all in their teens (and the drummer just barely).
Led by singer/guitarist Alex Cha, the band (in various incarnations) has been grinding hard for years now.
In its first Rogue performance, RockOn! is pulling out originals, plus a few covers (including some Judas Priest, we makes this metal-head smile).
Who is Janice Noga? (5 p.m. tonight, 5:30 p.m. March 9, 8:30 p.m. March 10 and March 11 at ViSta Theater)
The question posed in the title of this show likely can’t be fully answered in 45 minutes of anecdotes and songs. But we’ll get the milestones — auditioning on Broadway, helping open up Roger Rocka’s, singing in the Oval Office.
Noga will be joined by Terry Lewis.
Of note: Last year, Noga and her husband did a filmed version of the one-woman stage play “Janka.”
Powers (3:30 p.m. tonight, 5:30 p.m. March 10, 6:30 p.m. March 11 at Hart’s Haven)
This is musical storytelling from Ryan Adam Wells. It’s about comic books and depression.
Wells is an alternative country singer (and storyteller actor and Rogue Festival veteran) who’s coming in from Houston, Tx. Some may remember his show “Beers About Song.” You can hear those songs on Bandcamp.
That’s it for this week. Remember you can now hear me on the Homegrown Show Sundays at 8 p.m. on New Rock 104.1 FM. If you have anything you think I need to be looking at or listening to, feel free to let me know: email@example.com