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An American bad ass (sometimes) in Fresno
Tommy Nugent had been back in Fresno less than an hour and already he’d been kidnapped off the street (by drinking buddy and Fres-lebrity Chuck Leonard), maybe helped steal a car (it was more like borrowing, really) and found himself on the bad side of an overflowing toilet.
Standing there, in a semi-stranger’s bathroom yelling for help and trying to stem the tide of murky water with the only towel he could find, he couldn’t help but feel the irony of his life at that moment.
“I spend a lot of time feeling like the opposite of a bad ass,” says Nugent, aka Reverend Nuge, who’s back in Fresno for this year’s Rogue Festival. The irony, of course is “American Badass Gone Rogue,” Nugent’s entry in this year’s festival. It's an unabashed rock-and-roll party that answers the question, "what would Kid Rock do?" and comes complete with hot chicks, free shots and a buttload of special guests. He has plenty of Rogue friends, including Barry Smith who did a blues number during one show. Leonard serves as his Carson Daly, or maybe Uncle Cracker.
There are two shows left, 10 p.m. tonight and 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Starline.
Nugent didn’t know he would be back in Fresno so soon. Usually he takes a year or two, really works to build an audience before making his way back to any one place. Plus, he’s still touring last year’s show “Burning Man and Reverend Nuge” (he’ll have runs at the Orlando and Capital fringe festivals) and has got back into college speaking gigs. He hadn’t done a solo show—much less something new—in 6 months.
But there’s always a “B” show writing itself in his head, and this one had been in there for a long time, he says. So, there was his excuse to come back.
“Once I heard that you were the Detroit of California, I had to come back. Fresno is the on place where I sort of convinced myself I was a badass.”
And it’s true. He’s living the rock-star dream. He has a group of followers he refers to as his Burners. His last show went five minutes long ‘cause he was waiting for the audience to quite down. Not bad for a sometimes American bad ass who’d never even signed a boob before.
Actually, now he has. The woman had her own pen and everything.
Also: check out "Rev Gone Rogue," the documentary Nugent filmed at last year's festival. It shows 8 p.m. Saturday at Mike Briggs.