Kinky Friedman: A Resurrection at 75

IMG_1460He’s been a popular detective novelist, a singer, a columnist, Peace Corps volunteer, animal rescuer, and a politician. He played at the Grand Ole Opry, “Saturday Night Live” and the Rolling Thunder Revue. He’s the only performer in 45 years to record an episode of “Austin City Limits” that was never aired. And he won 12.6 percent of the vote when he ran for Governor of Texas in 2006.

Kinky Friedman is back on the road and playing music, with the latest of a revived recording career and a new album that’s in the Americana Top 10.

In a typically laconic solo show at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington, D.C., Thursday, days after he turned 75, he placed himself in the tradition of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, with wisecracks out of Mark Twain (he fiddled with a cigar that he never lit indoors).

That notion probably comes from starting with Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” a populist Robin Hood anthem, that begins with the invitation, “If you’ll gather ‘round me, children, a story I will tell..”

That’s the same way another staple of his set began, Peter LaFarge’s “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” another song about social import, about a Pima Indian who became a forgotten World War II hero.

More often in his show — and what the dozens of people came to see — were his randy little ditties like “Waitret, Please Waitret” (“come sit on my fate” is its written lyric) or his flirty song of archeology, “Homo Erectus.”

And it wouldn’t be a Kinky concert without his “Asshole from El Paso,” Chinga Chavin’s inversion of Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.”

He had a straight request, to mark a wedding anniversary, his love song “Marilyn and Joe,” which he said he played at a number of weddings that ultimately ended in divorce.

And he had some nifty little songs from his love song to his instrument “Me & My Guitar” and one about a three-legged canine, “A Dog Named Freedom.”

Best of all, he’s got these new songs out on a Larry Campbell-produced album that he ended his show with, a straightforward song about a dog who disappeared, a wistful “I Love You When It Rains” and the title song, “Resurrection,” a Willie Nelson duet bout friends who’ve died and his own situation: “You might think that I’m too old to be out playing on the road, instead of staying at home where I belong /  You might think that it ain’t right to be out driving half the night…There’s an angel on my shoulder, she always gets me to my next show.”

The D.C. stop had one element from his old Texas Jewboys days, the D.C. based guitarist Jimmie “Ratso” Silvan, who added some picking and good cheer in his short appearance, in which he was also featured doing Billy Joe Shaver’s “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train.”

Because it was titled “The Merry Kinksters Tour” it also featured Cleve and Sweet Mary Hattersley, an Austin duo and members of the longtime band there Greezy Wheels; though he mostly wanted to sell a book, from which he read an excerpt.

Starting the show was Brian Molnar, a New Jersey bluesman and producer of two recent Friedman album, who acquitted himself sell as performer.

The setlist for Kinky Friedman Thursday was:

  • “Pretty Boy Floyd”
  • “Marilyn and Joe”
  • “The Ballad of Palladin”
  • “A Dog Named Freedom”
  • “Me & My Guitar”
  • “The Ballad of Ira Hayes”
  • “Waitret, Please Waitret”
  • “Asshole from El Paso”
  • “Georgia on a Fast Train”
  • “Homo Erectus”
  • “A Dog in the Sky”
  • “Resurrection”
  • “I Love You When It Rains”

 

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