Kinky Friedman – Jumping Hot Club Gateshead (2013)

Kinky Friedman

Jumping Hot Club

Caedmon Hall

Gateshead

19th April 2013

It’s been quite awhile since the Governor of the Heart of Texas made an appearance at the Jumping Hot Club, meaning tonight’s show was a complete sell-out weeks in advance. The Kinkster looked the epitome of ‘Cool’ dressed head to toe in black, wearing his trademark huge Stetson and sporting a King-size cigar, which he didn’t get to smoke but used as a prop during several stories.

His voice was a little bit croaky for the first couple of songs; but not so bad that it detracted from the overall performance. Eventually, lubricated by copious amounts of water and a few sips of discount Tequila, Kinky warmed up and relaxed enough to sound like the singer of old for a rapturousNashville Casualty and Life.

Seeing Kinky Friedman in concert is as much about his stories as his songs and the well told missives had the audience in stitches; even the tales that he’s been telling for years and years.

Although the majority were humorous; he also told a lovely story about Levon Helm to whom he dedicated Golden Boy to and it still left everyone with a smile on their face.

At one stage an introduction became a long rambling political speech about legalising marijuana and repealing gambling laws which would empty the prisons of Texas and….well…..it could have been interesting in Texas or perhaps several other States but it was simply irrelevant in the North East of England, souring the mood and slowing the pace.

Thankfully things picked up again with the hilarious Homo Erectus and Country Music’s only ‘pro-choice’ song; Rapid City, South Dakota; which proved that a serious subject has more chance of being listened too if it’s not being shouted from the rooftops.

Although not a new song; I hadn’t heard Men’s Room LA before and the story and song were probably the highlight of the evening for me.

This was followed by a song that I downloaded the following day for my Granddaughter – The Mucous Song which was absolutely brilliant and suitable for kids of all ages; if this mature audience was anything to go by.

The first hour came to a close with a very moving version of The Ballad of Ira Hayes and a reading from his book, Heroes from Texas a Texas Childhoodabout his own father who flew a bomber in WW II and was very moving indeed and led to a long queue at the Merch stand as Kinky signed a lot of CD’s and books and posed for a plenty of photos.

The second half started with a rip-roaring version of the Wild Man of Borneothat had the well lubricated audience in the palm of his hand. Next up was another hilarious story which introduced the infamous song that inflamed the Women’s Lib movement – Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and your Buns in the Bed. Like many things in his ‘show’ Kinky treads a very fine path that comes perilously close to shocking his audiences and that’s why his fans love him.

But I wasn’t prepared for what came next; and I have to say that this is a purely personal point of view. The song was introduced as one that profoundly affected him when he first heard it sung by Paul Robeson on the radio; as a boy of 8.

The song in question was The Ballad of Kevin Barry; an 18 year old member of the IRA who was executed in 1920. Friedman is a Jewish-American with no apparent Irish connections; so, in a week when the USA went very jingoistic following the Boston bombings I thought it insensitive to sing a song that glorified a terrorist/freedom fighter and contains a couple of specifically anti-British lines. The song received plenty of applause at the end but a few of us looked perplexed at the audacity of the man. As I say; he does like to shock his audiences.

Without drawing breath the Texan then went straight into Asshole from El Paso! You’ve got to love him; haven’t you?

After a speech about ‘political correctness’ Kinky delivered his finest song of the evening; They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore and I swear that people were singing along with the chorus!   

My negative feelings about Kevin Barry might sound hypocritical when I rave about tonight’s rendition of Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floyd; the bank robber and small time gangster, who killed several people including police officers; but went on to share some of his booty with the poor – so that’s all right; isn’t it? Hmmm; it’s not easy this reviewing lark; is it?

The evening ended with the beautiful Marilyn and Joe about Monroe and DiMaggio; going to show that the man can write and deliver a song as beautiful as his more lauded peers can; when he puts his mind to it.
This was a wonderful, if flawed performance from one of Country Music’s finest troubadours.

http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/index.html

Photos copyright www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk

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