Bethlehem Press

Friday, July 28, 2017
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOKinky Friedman, 7 p.m. April 19, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem CONTRIBUTED PHOTOKinky Friedman, 7 p.m. April 19, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem

Kinky Friedman rides again in Godfrey Daniels debut

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

Kinky Friedman is anything but predictable.

That bodes well for his concert, 7 p.m. April 19, Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem.

Friedman promises a mix of the old and new. In between such Kinky classics as “They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and songs from his most recent album (2015), “The Loneliest Man I Ever Met,” expect to hear rants and raves from the iconoclastic singer-songwriter who rose to fame, or infamy, in the 1970s with his band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.

“I’ll be playing half a dozen of the new ones, including one that Willie [Nelson] is going to record, ‘Jesus In Pajamas.’ I think Jesus was a good Jewish boy who got into a little trouble with the government,” Friedman says in a phone interview, his trademark impish sarcasm evident in his voice.

“Kinky Friedman: The Resurrected Tour,” a whirlwind 35 concerts in 36 nights that brings Friedman to Bethlehem for his debut at the legendary Lehigh Valley venue, started April 7 at the Mucky Duck, Houston, Tex.; went on to the Turning Point, Piermont, N.Y., April 11, continues through May 14 at the Blue Door, Oklahoma City, Okla., and concludes with a benefit for Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused or neglected children, at Hardway Ranch, Bluff Dale, Tex., May 15.

Friedman’s CK Cigars web site opinion piece, a crash course in his presumably libertarian politics, made me jump right in. Are you a President Trump supporter, I ask?

“I just was in the end. Watching people mocking Trump as much as they did just reminded me of Jesus riding on a jackass. And everybody knew he [Jesus] wouldn’t amount to much when he grew up. And they all mocked him.

“There’s no question that we need Jesus, or Gandhi or Martin Luther King. That’s the kind of guy we need in office.

“And you need to remember that Van Gogh spent his whole life trying to sell his art. And he only sold one painting to his brother Theo. And he died in a sanitarium with only a cat as his friend.

“In Van Gogh’s day there was a very successful artist, a Justin Bieber of the art world, and they all bought his work. And 100 years later, we don’t even know his name. And we all know Van Gogh.

“I would say the mainstream is pretty toxic, pretty turgid and pretty useless. It may be important but it’s not significant.”

Friedman was just warming up in a recent phone interview from his Echo Hill Ranch, Medina, Tex., home. His metaphor about Trump, Van Gogh and Jesus was just the beginning. Friedman’s observations often are setups for a punchline or zinger.

“I’m a Jew to the point where I was very disappointed when Bernie [Sanders] didn’t win because it would’ve been a Jewish milestone. It would be the first time in history that a Jewish family would’ve moved into a house that a black family moved out of.”

Chicago-born Friedman didn’t feel out of place when early on in his life, his family moved to Texas.

“I loved Texas even before I got there. I was born in Michael Reese Hospital [in Chicago]. In the space of that short period of time, maybe a year or less, were born Michael Bloomfield, Steve Goodman, Warren Zevon, Shel Silverstein and the only one who is still alive today, Kinky Friedman.”

An attitude of gratitude is not lost on Friedman: “I think I’m alive because the Lord has blessed me. He wants me to live and prosper.”

To that end, Friedman has a full plate, née, a smörgåsbord, of projects.

“I just hadn’t written a song in 40 years. A lot of life has percolated. These songs are a lot different.” Some of the new tunes are on an EP, “Resurrected: A Limited Collector’s Edition,” expected to be available on the tour.

In addition to the new songs, to be recorded for an album in Summer 2017, a new mystery novel, ”The Tin Can Telephone,” joins Friedman’s shelf of 34 books he’s written.

There’s also his first detective novel in several years, “The Return of Kinky Friedman By Kinky Friedman,” expected in early 2018.

A biography of Friedman, “Everything’s Bigger In Texas: The Life And Times of Kinky Friedman” (Backbeat Books), to be published in November, was written by Mary Lou Sullivan, author of “Raisin’ Cain: The Wild And Raucous Story of Johnny Winter.”

If that’s not enough, Friedman coauthored a book about Bob Dylan with Louis Kemp, described as a “childhood toboggan companion” of Dylan, according to Friedman. “The Boys from the North Country: My Life With Robert Zimmerman And Bob Dylan” is to be published in December by Random House.

“I wonder what he’s [Dylan] going to think about this book. It’s not a kiss and tell. If you’re a Bob Dylan fan, there’s stuff you’re not going to know. All of his biographers, they never met the man. This is a very different, a very intimate, side of Bob Dylan that I think people are going to dig.

“This will be the best Bob Dylan book since Ratso’s [Larry “Ratso” Sloman] ‘On The Road With Bob Dylan.’

“The stories Louie was telling me are remarkable and they are real. And I’ve never seen them in print.”

Accompanying Friedman in concert is guitarist Joe Cirotti. Friedman’s producer, Brian Molnar, opens the show as a duet with Cirotti. Photographer Brian Kanof will auction bottles of Friedman’s “Man in Black Tequila” brand to benefit the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, Echo Hill, Tex.

Friedman says he especially likes to tour in Germany.

“I’ve kind of become the David Hasselhoff of Germany. I connect with those audiences. In Germany, they’re uniformly young. They know my books and music probably as well as anyone in the world, including myself. They understand performance art.

“They look to the west. They see America more clearly than we do. They see it differently. Let’s put it this way: Their main heroes are people like Gram Parsons, Shel Silverstein, Hunter Thompson, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Waits, Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop and Kinky Friedman. What do these people have in common? They’re not mainstream. And they’re troublemakers.

“These young Germans, who realize what they would find if they went to Ancestry. com, I have a real sympathy for them.

“They see what makes great. We think it’s Garth Brooks and Miley Cyrus. There’s a little holocaust in each country. That’s what the world looks like without America. That’s why you should give Trump a chance. This is the result of eight years of Obama.

“Part of what has happened is we have as many refugees now as in World World Il. And the politicians are still there. If Nancy Pelosi gets one more face-lift, she’ll be wearing a beard.”

Friedman says he’s “the thinking-man’s David Hasselhoff.”

And now that he’s set you up like a bowling pin, Friedman sends the bowling ball down the lane.

“The Germans are my second favorite group of people. And my first favorite group is everyone else.”

He pauses for the imaginary Borscht Belt drummer to hit the rim shot. “Ba-dah-dum.”

Then Friedman wraps up the interview and says, “All right my man. We’ll see you down the highway.”

Tickets: godfreydaniels.org, 610-867-2390