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Kinky Friedman At The Biltmore

Texas troubadour Kinky Friedman was at the Biltmore on Monday night. You gotta’ love the Biltmore! What a place to see music and it’s only a 30 second walk from our apartment. It’s surprising I don’t go there more often but I guess it’s understandable considering that the Clumsy Lovers have played 2700 shows, and probably 2000 of those have been in nightclubs, roadhouses and honky-tonks…

When I’m in Vancouver a bar is generally the last place I want to be. But the Biltmore feels more like a music venue, similar to the Doug Fir in Portland, particularly on this evening as it was set up like a listening room with chairs on the dance floor like they do at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle sometimes.

Levi, Amanda and I had met Kinky briefly before the show. We had been out for an evening walk and he was on the sidewalk in front of the venue smoking a cigar and greeting early arrivals as we walked towards home. We went back to the apartment and put Levi to bed and I headed downstairs to check out the show.

The first time I had heard the name Kinky Friedman was back in the late 90’s as our former mandolin player was reading one of his novels in the van. He has written almost 30 novels, recorded a dozen or so albums and is well known as a political commentator and former candidate for Governor of Texas. He is a gifted storyteller in the Mark Twain tradition.

Before every song was an anecdote or a funny quip and even a chapter from his newest book. Kinky knows everybody. He knew Kris Kristofferson when he was a janitor in Nashville, chummed around with Townes Van Zandt, and even got some sage like advice from fellow Texan Willie Nelson before he left on tour: “Kinky, if you insist on having sex with an animal, make sure it’s a horse. That way you will have a ride home in the morning!” That was about as raunchy as it got and oddly enough, as much as he is well known for some really silly songs he’s also written beautiful heart-wrenching masterpieces in the Townes Van Zandt/Steve Earle/Guy Clark tradition of Texas singer-songwriters. Truly moving.

Throughout the show I was recalling my own Texas memories. We’ve been to Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso and a bunch of small towns but I was thinking of San Antonio in particular. Our first time there about ten years ago Rusty and the Casbeers crew took us back to their place for a late night acoustic jam under the stars in the backyard. Local entertainment writer and radio DJ Jim Beale was there too. He later put us in his top ten concerts of the year. He apparently wrote “any band willing to wear wool suits in Texas in July deserves to be in my top ten for the year!” Or something like that…

That night it seemed everyone had a beautiful song to share as we passed the guitar around. Rusty and his crew go every year to the Kerrville Folk Festival, where Kinky happens to be from. I’m sure they all know each other. It is a small world after all. And it keeps getting smaller every year I’m blessed to be on the planet.

So on this Monday in Vancouver, I might as well have been in Texas. I hope I make it back there again someday soon. Nice to meet you Kinky Friedman.


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