The Desperado

Dad by day, performer by night, Nick Lerangis is one busy guy. Last seen in FST’s Mainstage production of Once, Nick has returned to Sarasota, making his Cabaret debut in this season’s rousing new music revue, Outlaws & Angels.

We sat down with Nick to discuss guitar solos, the “Nashville sound,” and what it’s like to bring your family on the road. 

Outlaws & Angels plays in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret through March 29. For tickets and more information, click here.

How would you explain Outlaw Country music to someone who has never heard of it? What makes it stand out from other musical genres?

It is a sub-genre of country music featuring songs that deal with the life of someone who lives on the margins of law and society – of someone who travels, makes trouble, and breaks hearts. This music stood in stark contrast to the more sanitized styles of mainstream country music that mostly told stories of the beloved Old West and idyllic country fables.

Pictured: Nick Lerangis. Photo by Matthew Holler.

Outlaws & Angels features artists like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash. What did you already know about the artists before the show? What were you surprised to learn?

I spent a while in a country band around 2010-2011, and I’ve always included some country in my performances as a solo artist. I knew a lot about Johnny Cash and Hank Williams going into rehearsals, but I didn’t know how large Dolly Parton’s star truly was until we starting discussing her history. She is not only a brilliant songwriter, but a tireless worker, an entrepreneur, and an innovator.

What’s your favorite number to perform in Outlaws and Angels and why?

These days my favorite is “Georgia on a Fast Train” because the guitar solo is really challenging. I have been trying to play the original solo almost note-for-note. Eddie Shaver, brother of singer Billy Shaver, was the guitarist on the original song, and he was a real fire breather. He loved hard rock and heavy metal, and his guitar riffs reflect it!

When Eddie toured with other country artists, he was forced to use a more traditional country setup. When he toured with his brother Billy, he was allowed to use his souped-up heavy metal amp and the Fender guitar, which was gifted to him by Dickie Betts of The Allman Brothers.

You were last seen on FST’s Mainstage in Once (2017). What has it been like to perform in FST’s Cabaret after appearing on the Mainstage?

It’s a whole different beast. My role is larger, so I’ve been more strict about getting enough rest. The audience is much more present and the space is so intimate, that they often become part of the show if they are particularly enthusiastic.

Have there been any special moments (an unscripted surprise or moment with the audience) while you’ve been here that you’d like to share?

I sing the Eagles’ “Desperado” every night, and when the piano introduction finishes and I take my first breath to sing, it’s amazing to hear the entire audience whisper the word “Desperado” along with me.

Pictured (left to right): Nick Lerangis and Joe Casey. Photo by Matthew Holler.

There’s a great chemistry between the cast onstage – what are you like offstage?

We’re all good friends. In this field, there can be lots of tension or personalities that clash, but I can honestly say that I really like every one of my colleagues. They’re all really good musicians, and when I get offstage every night I always feel like everyone has given 100%. Being satisfied musically really helps keep our relationships strong.

What might audiences be surprised to know about you?

My primary role is as a dad and husband, and my wife Jennie and my 15-month-old son Bobby are here with me during the run of this show. So while I’m up late at night singing about raising hell and runnin’ around, I’m also up at 6:45AM changing diapers and snuggling with my family.

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Nick Lerangis. Photo by Matthew Holler.

I also lived in Nashville on two separate occasions, writing songs and trying to break into the scene down there. Somehow I ended up writing a bunch of pop and rock music, not country at that time, but I have done some pickin’ in the Nashville scene.

Why should audiences come see Outlaws and Angels?

We’re a really kick-butt group of musicians, and we whip through hard-driving country rock, sweet ballads, and chicken-pickin’ classics. In Nashville parlance, we play all the “bummers, hummers, and strummers.”

Outlaws and Angels plays in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret through March 29. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.