In bands and on ballots, Kinky Friedman makes his mark
Author, musician, sometime-politician and all-around American raconteur, Kinky Friedman doesn’t mince words when it comes to pontificating on just about any subject near and dear to his heart. His takes on life are often delivered in a humorous, satirical manner, but the 65-year-old tackles a lot of serious issues and themes, much like the manner in which Mark Twain presented his opinions and views to readers. Still, Friedman is clearly on a level all his own today.
Although he has garnered a considerable amount of national mainstream success in the last 25 years as the author of a series of popular mystery novels and non-fiction books touching on politics, Friedman first made a name for himself as a singer-songwriter. In the early 1970s, along with his band The Texas Jewboys (he was raised by Jewish parents in the Lone Star state), he penned a slew of country and twang-tinged tunes such as the rollicking and humorous “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” along with more grave songs such as “Ride ’Em Jewboy,” which, in spite of its funny title, is actually a haunting account of the Holocaust. Friedman will bring his multi-faceted show to Moe’s Alley on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
Having recently dropped out of the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner (he also waged a popular but unsuccessful campaign for Texas governor in 2006), Friedman shared some of his thoughts about hitting the road again with his band over the phone from his home in central Texas.
“Politics’ loss is music’s gain—it’s the curse of being multi-talented,” Friedman offers in a hilarious deadpan. “I think this show is going to be very funny, but I think it’s also going to have a lot of profanity and profundity, and the audience will have to decide which is which.” He continues, “There’s a lot of serious songs, along with some funny ones, so we’ll kind of mix it up and we’ll definitely do a reading—the show should be good, I’m 65 years old … but I read at the 67-year-old level.”
After the show, Friedman will be selling books, including his latest, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood,” and he’ll be showcasing his new line of signature cigars. He says that for anyone who wants an autograph, “I’ll sign anything but bad legislation.”
While Friedman is enjoying his return to the music stage, and is sitting out this year’s gubernatorial race—he’s endorsing Woodrow the dog, a canine candidate that is helping raise money for an Austin animal charity—he admits that he’ll probably run for elected office again in the future: “I can tell you it’s a giant step down from a musician to a politician, but if musicians ran this country, we’d be in great shape. I mean, we wouldn’t get a hell of a lot done in the morning, but we’d work late and we’d be honest.”
In usual candid nature, Friedman serves up some scathing last words. “I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to do this, but I’ll probably keep running for office as long as Willie [Nelson] keeps playing,” he says. “We just have a rotten crop of politicians in office [in Texas] today, as bad as any I’ve ever seen. We really should have term limits. We should pass a law that limits all elected officials to two terms—one in office and one in prison.”
Kinky Friedman performs at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20. For more info, call 479-1854.