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Posted in music on November 18, 2009
by Martin Longley
Since the early 1980s, self-styled Texas Jewboy Kinky Friedman has drawn the most attention as a crime fiction scribe, smearing the division between reality and fantasy, laughs and tension. In the last four years, he's also been raising his political profile to the point where The Kinkster just might be a realistic contender (so says a recent, and apparently 'serious' poll), with his Texans For Kinky campaign surging towards 2010 in the battle against current governor Rick Perry. In 2006 he ran as an independent candidate. Next year, he's a Democrat.
Friedman's increased musical drive harks back to those early performing years in the 1970s, when his best-known songs were laid down. This merry trio of players are reasonably fresh from a substantial European tour. The music they make is kind of cabaret country, with Friedman singing lead vocals and strumming acoustic guitar, backed up by his amigos. As ever, Friedman is flanked by Little Jewford at the keyboards and fellow singer/guitarist Ratso, who both happen to enjoy a dual existence as characters in their bandleader's tales. Friedman believes that the eternal bonding between himself and Lebanese cowboy Ratso is the last chance for Middle Eastern peace.
The Kinkster's existence is legend, and his legend is his existence.
Friedman's return to B.B. King's Blues Club on 11/16 is even more anarchic than his last show at this same joint. The threesome are calling for tequila. They can't get started without a shot. Jewford, topped by tight curls, beaming a talk-show host grin, flashes boogie woogie runs up'n'down the keys, stylistically switching from country to schmaltz, pop-classical to Broadway. He's emcee-ing with stentorian Hollywood trailer pomp, bantering with The Kinkster. They're playing songs, jumping between Freidman's own classics ("Sold American", "Asshole From El Paso") and old chestnuts "Jambalaya" (Hank Williams handled by Ratso) and "When The Saints Go Marching In" (Jewford running through a ludicrous set of style-variations, topped by swivelling around to ripple the keys behind his back).
Friedman also steps aside from the songs to deliver a few rambling tales, coming into sharp focus with a short piece dealing with his father's exploits in WW2. This is the serious Kinky, although your reviewer just happened to be seated in front of two warring tables who surely couldn't be genuine followers of the Kinkster, as they proceeded to babble all the way through his poignant oration. The majority of this packed Monday nite crowd were thankfully hushed. This is one of Friedman's greatest talents: the ability to move through simultaneous spheres of low comedy and high thought, sometimes prompting the audience to wonder which is which. He'd been toying with his cigar throughout the reading, and right at the end of the encores, he's lighting up, puffing as he exits, doubtless ready to repeal all anti-smoking legislation in 2010.
No pictures from the show, but related videos below...
Kinky Friedman on his Run for Texas Governor
Interview with Kinky Friedman - The Stork News
Kinky Friedman on Celebrity Pets
kinky friedman - homo erectus LIVE
kinky friedman - amelia earhart LIVE
"Along Came Kinky...Texas Jewboy for Governor" Q&A at SXSW 09