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Reverend Nuge goes Rogue
Tommy Nugent has crazy love for Kid Rock.
So, when you ask him if he ever thought this would be his life he quotes the Detroit rap-rock king.
“Every God damn day of my life,” says Nugent, in town from Detroit to perform his one-man show at this year's Rogue Festival.
Now, maybe he didn't quite have the particulars. He'd never heard of a fringe festival until they started one in Cincinnati, and he wrote and performed his first show not knowing there was a festival circuit, or that anyone could possibly make a life of it.
“I did it once and they changed the marquis that night,” he says.
So this — spending a good part of each year on the road as a festival performer and motivational speaker — probably wasn't part of his long-term plan.
But he always knew he wanted to be up there, on the stage, in front of people.
In many ways, Burning Man and the Reverend Nuge is the story from there to here. It's his journey from a church-going boy, to an almost Pentecostal preacher, from a Las Vegas gambler to a dude trippin' on weed brownies at Burning Man (FYI, weed jokes go over well in Fresno, Nugent says). It's a revamping of a show he did in 2002, and a counterpoint to his first real show, where he tried convince the audience they were seeing a guy about to play a real game of Russian Roulette.
The gun was real. The bullets too.
The stories were Nugent at his most pathetic.
Here, the stories are more reflective, told with a rapid-fire delivery, punctuated with the briefest moments of stillness to create what Nugent calls an “artistic gateway.” It's a Zen kinda thing. He's getting the audience to relate in a real way.
So, while you may not have lost your job as a pastor because you fornicated — Nugent did — “a lot of people are going to have to give up their first dream,” he says.
Getting to that nerve center is what makes a great show.
“It can be 55 minutes of shit,” Nugent says. “But if it can get my heart for one minute, that's worth my 7 bucks.”
And not every show gets there.
There are the nightmare shows, like the one where the house manager tells you there's been one ticket sold and it's five minutes to showtime and the media there, so you've got to go on.
That's part of being out on the fringe (circuit) — you just never know.
Most fringe festivals run on a lottery system. So, you hedge your bets and apply for as many as possible. Maybe you'll get two.
“Of course you could get seven,” Nugent says. Typically he tries to hit four festivals each years, mostly close to home. The Rogue is the furthest he's been from his wife and kids. This year, his son hit with the worst question ever, “He said, dad, why are you gone so much?” Nugent immediately cut his stack of applications by half.
“I'm a part-time traveling philosopher, a part-time wandering holy-man and a part-time stay at home dad.”
Burning Man and the Reverend Nuge
Part of the Rogue Festival 2010
8:30 p.m. March 12 and 2:30 p.m. March 13, $7
Starline, 831 E. Fern Ave.