Review: Kinky Friedman leaves you wanting more

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Technically, you can say country singer Kinky Friedman performed in concert at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville on Nov. 3.

But in reality, the show felt more like an intimate gathering of friends, watching the patriarch of the clan share some songs, peppered with some wry observations, stories (some scandalous, some touching), and random banter.

As he stepped up onto the stage, Friedman cut a rather folksy appearance. He was dressed in a slightly dusty black cowboy hat, perched low enough to shield his eyes from the spotlight and the audience. The famous Kinkster moustache was visible just below the shadow. His sport coat, also a faded black, was slightly ill-fitting. He wore black jeans that were less faded than the rest of his outfit. A turquoise necklace dangled above his white button-down shirt. His guitar was slung over his shoulder with a rhinestoned strap that read “Kinky” in slightly yellowed stones. And a fresh stogie was perched on his fingers until it was placed on a stool behind him so he could strum his guitar, emblazoned with the Texas flag on its pick-guard.

The Chicago-born, Texas-raised Friedman stood within an arm’s length from the polite crowd at Bridge Street. Occasionally, he had an insider’s chat with a friendly and familiar face among the crowd.

Between songs or tales, he sometimes swished a little bit of tequila to help jog his memory. (That was his explanation.)

To watch Kinky Friedman on stage is to watch a character as colorful as the music and books he has written over the years.

Currently, Friedman is touring behind a new album, “Resurrection,” that still draws from his affinity for traditional country music. But the lyrics now steer away from the politically incorrect lyrics of his younger days. (At Bridge Street, however, he did please the crowd by singing the admittedly chauvinistic anthems “Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed” and “Waitret Please Waitret.”)

The new album includes Friedman’s trademark wry lyrical observations. But the stories now are intended to entertain instead of merely shock.

Among the new songs he performed were “Resurrection” and “A Dog in the Sky” (about a favorite dog of his that passed away). The songs may have taken unexpected lyrical twists but Friedman delivered them in a heartfelt emotional way that left me a bit misty-eyed. Those performances illustrated he did a few lessons over the years by rubbing elbows with the likes of Bob Dylan.

Friedman also touched the heart with his reading of a passage from his 2009 book of essays, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood.” The selected passage was about Friedman’s father—a World War II veteran who returned from battle to only never speak about his experience. Instead, Friedman’s father put his energy into helping the children of Texas.

Friedman’s story about his father was entertaining. But it also was informative. It gave me some insight into what lurks in the heart and mind of the Kinkster.

Friedman was on stage for 70 minutes or so. Between the 75-year-old entertainer’s music and stories, I wished the show didn’t have to end.

But to quote another well-known imp, P.T. Barnum, “Always leave them wanting more.”

I give Kinky Friedman at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville on Nov. 3 four out of five stars.

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