The Logger returns to his roots in the Little City
VERGENNES — A lot of us know “The Logger” — or at least we know of him. He stands at 6-feet 4-inches, weighs in at 195, has red hair, blue eyes, rarely wears sleeves and struts his blue-collar-Vermonter persona around the state with pride.
This comedian, musician, actor and all-around entertainer has done a masterful job dialing in his brand; complete with merch like hoodies, caps, duct tape wallets and even undies. He tapped into the beginning of his success with “The Logger” act back in the 1990s and has been riding that wave for 23 years.
DeWees will return to where it all began — the Vergennes Opera House — on Saturday, Jan. 25, for an evening of humor, storytelling and music.
Vergennes Opera House President Gerianne Smart remembers back in 1997 when she and DeWees connected. “Rusty called and wanted to record his first video in our space,” Smart remembered, adding that the Opera House at that point was “still pretty rough around the edges.” “Through apologies for the way the space looked, I showed him around and, to my delight he said it was ‘perfect!’”
“This ‘Logger’ thing was really hot,” DeWees said. “I wrote the stuff by accident… it came to me when I was driving home to Vermont from New York City to visit my aging parents… and people were coming out to see it. I did a couple tours, in 27 different towns and that went well. I didn’t want to put the hat away and thought, ‘well, what do I do next?’”
Make a video.
“The Vergennes Opera House was a perfect hall to set three cameras up and do a couple-day shoot,” said DeWees.
At the time, DeWees was hanging up the 11 years he spent in New York City after graduating Stowe High School and studying at the Vermont Repertory Theatre in Burlington. In the city, DeWees (who was born in Philadelphia) worked as the assistant to William Doyle, of Doyle New York (a high-end auction house), trained at the George Loris Actors Theatre School and the Lee Strasberg Institute, and earned roles off-Broadway, and in television, film, and national commercials.
“I learned so much about business from Doyle,” DeWees said. “That knowledge allowed me to write and develop a successful business.”
That, and DeWees’ natural comedic timing and his experiences with “old, hardworking Vermonters” helped too.
Now with two decades more experience (and significantly whiter hair), DeWees will perform at the Vergennes Opera House once again, this time with his Tiny Town Hall Tour. Yes, he knows Vergennes is a city not a town — a “classic” little city, the Elmore resident clarified during an interview last week.
“I’ve done 18 shows on the Tiny Town Hall Tour already, and have 30 more scheduled,” DeWees said. “I’ve been all over the state and just beyond… Towns have been happy to have their town halls utilized… Today, we’re getting further and further away from physical connection with other people. It makes more sense to have everyone together in one place — and in lots of cases with this tour, it’s the same place that their parents’ wedding reception was held. The whole tour was designed for Vermonters, not tourists. And it’s working.”
DeWees is also allowing local charity groups to raise money around the shows. Like, for example, the Vergennes Union High School senior class student organizers will be at Saturday’s show selling baked goods as well as 50/50 raffle tickets to help raise funds for their Project Graduation event.
“The whole thing acts as a community adhesive,” he said.
But what about the folks that question the authenticity of this successful actor playing the rough, hard-workin’ life?
“I have to really watch on that stuff,” DeWees admitted. “I’m a rich white person… to someone. We’re all rich to someone… I do straddle it. I think things stand out more in Vermont because it’s so small. In Vermont you cross paths more with people who are different from you. The skier, the Healthy Living shopper. I think any of those segments of the population; all worthy of love.”
And this is where The Logger might surprise you: he’s a lover.
“I try to talk about loving everyone,” he said, outlining one of his bits. “It makes life so friggin’ easy.”
Tickets to the event at the Vergennes Opera House on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m., are $25 at the door, $22 online. Students and children pay $15. A cash bar will be provided by Bar Antidote. The show is rated “SC” for Some Cussin’. More info at vergennesoperahouse.org or by calling (802) 877-6737.