Show Review: Kinky Friedman Bestowed “Kinky-isms” on Adoring Crowd at OKC’s The Blue Door

Show Reviews

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Tuesday night Oklahoma City’s “The Blue Door” welcomed the estimable Texas songwriter Kinky Friedman to their intimate room. Friedman is touring in support of his magnificent collection of new songs “Circus of Life”, his first new songs in forty years. Kinky made his way to the stage as the recorded title track “Circus of Life” concluded over the speakers. With a quick acknowledgement to the crowd, Friedman began the evening’s show with Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”. A fitting choice considering Guthrie is Oklahoma’s most famous songwriter, and Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd’s infamous notoriety here in Oklahoma. (Floyd is buried in Akins, OK). Concluding the song, Friedman again thanked the crowd in attendance and bestowed the first of many “Kinky-isms” upon the adoring crowd, “May the best of the past be the worst of the future”. With little time to consider this wisdom, Friedman played “The Loneliest Man I Ever Met”. As with the most revered storytellers, Friedman is one for tales and conversation between songs. Whether it was discussion of the ambiance of classic TV westerns, the “dorkiness” of New Mexico turquoise, Friedman is as entertaining as they come. When it came time to discuss his signature brand tequila, which he sipped leisurely throughout the night, he referred to it as “Mexican mouthwash.” “It’s like Barry Manilow, it makes you happy for just a little bit.”

Next up, Friedman delved into his 1974 self-titled album for “Homo Erectus,” followed by what was a true highlight of the evening for me. Discussing an occasion in which he read from one of his books to a group of Green Berets, Friedman played the quintessential folk song, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.” It was a stunning rendition of a legendary song. Perhaps the best version I’ve ever witnessed. The audience was silent throughout, obviously as spellbound as I was. The night could have ended there, but thankfully there was more to come. Reciting the “Matlock” story involving Willie Nelson’ influence on the new material, Friedman ushered in the era of Circus of Life, his new album on Echo Hill Records. [For our review of this album click one of these bolded words.]  “Jesus In Pajamas” and “Me and My Guitar” were stripped down more than the album version, and in this simpler form were even more charming than the recorded versions. Next, was an abbreviated “Waitret, Please, Waitret” which was introduced as Bill Clinton’s favorite Kinky song.

Next were captivating tales of Friedman’s popularity and celebrity in Europe, Germany in particular. Referring to himself as the “new David Hasslehoff of Europe,” it was a heartwarming narrative detailing the bewilderment a man of Jewish descent has to German youth knowing and singing along to his songs. Friedman also told of Nelson Mandela’s love of his songs. During the time Mandela was imprisoned, he broadcasted via pirate radio. “Sold American” and “Ride ‘em Jewboy” were said to be two of his favorite songs. In fact, “Ride ‘em Jewboy” was loved by Mandela so much, he would often play it multiple times during each broadcast. With that still looming, Friedman played it for us. A true classic, made all the more endearing having now heard this tale. Setting down his guitar, Friedman took up his cigar and a copy of his book, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood”. Reading from the chapter “The Navigator”, Friedman gave us touching insight into his father, Tom. As one that has always enjoyed Friedman’s books, I have now added this one to my must read list.

The music continued with a return to Circus of Life for “A Dog Named Freedom” and “Saying Goodbye”. As the evening wound down, we were reminded that Kinky would love to meet everyone, and would happily sign anything but “bad legislation”. We were also given parting gems of advice, “falling on your face, is still moving forward”, and “if you’re driving tonight, please don’t forget your car.” And with that, Friedman closed out the evening with “Autographs in the Rain (Song to Willie)” and Nelson Mandela favorite, “Sold American.”

All told, it was a memorable evening of humor, poignant tales and of course great songs.  Catch a show near you, check the tour dates here.      http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/

 

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