Monthly Archives: November 2010

Waiting outside a store so you can buy Chinese-made junk at 4 a.m. – Americans, are you insane?

I just have to get this off my chest. What in the world is up with this Black Friday crap? I know everyone has to buy things, me included. But this stampede of folks trampling on one another (sometimes literally) so they can buy things at the same time on the day after Thanksgiving is completely ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the idea that this is somehow crucial to the country’s economic survival. That if you don’t get out there and spend spend spend, you’re somehow unpatriotic.

I’ve got news for anybody who thinks that: Americans are not going to dig the country out of this hole by spending money we don’t have buying things we don’t need. It doesn’t even put Americans to work since we don’t make any of that crap any more. Maybe some temporary minimum wage jobs wrapping presents, but who gives a rat’s ass? That’s not going to help anybody fight off foreclosure.

I think this consumerism is the sign of a very sick culture. We’re not going to become a great nation again by buying stuff from other countries, especially since we have less and less money to buy it with. Sooner or later, we’re going to have to figure out how to MAKE things again. Things we want and things the rest of the world wants. Till we figure out how to do that, all the Black Fridays in the world aren’t going to make a difference.

Here’s an idea: If you need something, buy it. If you don’t, don’t. If not buying things you don’t need means some companies will crash and burn… It was probably going to happen sooner or later anyway. Might as well get it over with.

If you do have a few bucks burning a hole in your bank account, why not get a little bit smaller big screen TV and buy some music and try to earn back some of the good karma you lost downloading mp3s off peer to peer networks? I imagine some of the starving musicians wrapping your presents tomorrow would appreciate that.

/rant

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under but I digress

RIP Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (1955-2010)

The world just lost a seminal figure in experimental music. Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, founding member of Throbbing Gristle and Coil, died in his home in Thailand today. I’m still sad over the death of Coil’s co-leader (and Peter’s partner) John Balance. Maybe the two will meet again.

I have to confess I have always found Throbbing Gristle tough going. It’s pretty abrasive stuff. But the band had a big impact on music. Among the first creators of industrial music, they were daring and experimental and downright aggressive and what they did led to some impressive things – notably Psychic TV and Coil, which is one of my favorite acts.

Note: I posted a bit longer tribute to John here. If you’re a Coil fan you might want to check it out.

Leave a comment

Filed under experimental, industrial, Uncategorized, video

Elgin gets a kick out of Kinky

Author, musician and humorist Kinky Friedman signs autographs following his Nov. 21 talk in Elgin, Texas

Kinky Friedman is many things: a musician, a humorist, and a prolific author. On Sunday, Nov. 21, he was above all a Texan.

Friedman spoke before an audience of approximately 120, giving his take on what makes a real hero. He read from his book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood and spoke on other topics. Friedman signed autographs and posed for photos for an hour and a half. He also gave a $300 donation to the Friends of the Elgin Public Library, the group that sponsored his talk.

Friedman peppered his talk with one-liners that got laughs from the audience. “I’m 66, but I read at the 68-year-old level,” he said. He joked that he planned to be cremated and have his ashes “sprinkled in Rick Perry’s hair.”

Friedman’s 23 heroes included the likes of Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Barbara Jordan, Willie Nelson and his own father Tom Friedman. “These people are my heroes, not because of who they were, what families they were born into, or because they worked hard or were brave,” he said. “I chose these people because of their tragedies and challenges and how they dealt with those challenges.”

Friedman said he showed the table of contents of his book to a group of college graduates, who only recognized three out of 23 names. They had never heard of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan or WWII hero Audie Murphy. “I think people need to know upon whose shoulders they stand,” he said. “If I ever become governor, I’ll make my book mandatory reading in public schools.”

At times, Friedman’s talk entered the political realm. He said he hoped that Governor Rick Perry, being a staunch conservative, might have the ability to end the death penalty in Texas. He noted that many believe Cameron Todd Willingham, was wrongly executed for arson in 2004. “Christians, I apologize that you have to hear it from a Jew, but remember that’s who you heard it from the first time,” he said.

Friedman said one of his main goals when he ran for governor was the “De-wussification of Texas.” He cited as examples of wussification, or weakening character, the arrest of drinkers in a Dallas hotel bar by undercover police, and the scandal caused when he was photographed drinking a Guinness beer during a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I drank it, but I did not swallow,” he said.

He quoted Jordan as saying that political correctness “is going to drown our culture” and said the term was popularized by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Freidman’s reading was about his father, who grew up in Chicago during the 1920s, earning money by working for a peddler in a horse-drawn cart, running groceries up to tenement dwellers. His father went on to became a Navigator on a bomber plane during WWII, a college professor and owner of a summer camp in the Texas Hill Country.

Friedman said his father taught him to “treat children like adults and adults like children.”

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, Uncategorized

Pickering Pick’s tuneful English folk is a Sparkling Thing

Singer-songwriter Pickering Pick

Singer-songwriter Sam Pickering Pick is a man after my own heart — a man in love with words, words sung and words written. Setting his words to music, he paints beautiful pictures and tugs at the heartstrings. I also love his sense of melody and his guitar work. Low key and humble as he is, I think he has huge potential among folk music fans and beyond.

Originally from England, he has been living in the United States for eight years and now makes his home in Sacramento, California. Though his singing accent is a bit soft, he notes that his “speaking voice is just as English as ever.”

Sam has made nine albums to date, plus two EPs. His latest, The Boy in the Back, was just released this year. He is in the process of remastering his other albums in his home studio.

Though I find his guitar work quite beautiful, Sam doesn’t consider himself a hot shot musician. Lyrics are his main focus. “I played guitar and a bit of piano growing up, neither one particularly well, I might add. I’m really not a ‘good musician,’ and I’m just lucky to have long fingers and a sense of rhythm, so that fingerpicking a folk guitar is relatively easy for me. I have always been much more about the words than the music, so Paul Simon and obviously Dylan had huge appeal for me.”

I recently asked Sam what he thought of British singer-songwriter Donovan since I get a bit of a Donovan vibe off his music.

“You know, Donovan is an interesting one,” he said. “A couple of his songs are spectacular, but often I think he’s a bit too sweet for my taste. His fingerpicking is lovely, though. I love that scene in Don’t Look Back where he’s playing in a room of Dylan groupies and Dylan is just really mean to him, but Donovan plays much better. I think the English folk singer I most identify with is probably Cat Stevens [aka Yusuf Islam].” He is also a big fan of English folk singer Richard Thompson.

Sam recently turned 32. He grew up in a town in England called Cheltenham “in the Cotswolds, in the south-west Midlands.” He describes Cheltenham as a “posh town with posh schools, but lots of problems”

Sam himself did not grow up in a posh family, but his father is a notable figure in the music world. David Pickering Pick is a record producer and serial studio-builder who built studios from the ’70s up to the present. Musicians recording in David’s studio include Luther Grosvenor from Mott The Hoople, The Vigilantes of Love, Decameron and Bill Mallonee. “I think Judi Dench was there the other day doing some voice work. Anyway, a lot of English folk royalty over the years…” His studio company is FFG Recording.

“I grew up in Cheltenham, went to school, listened to all my dad’s old folk records from the mid- ’60s through the early ’70s — he gave me a whole stack when I was about 11 or 12,” Sam said. While his friends were listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses, Sam notes, “I grew up on James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan. Later on, there was Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Incredible String Band, etc., but earlier on it was the American folk singers I adored.”

After leaving school, Sam went to London to study architectural history. “Around that time, my first year, I wrote the songs for The Attic Tapes, and recorded them with my dad producing at his studio,” he said.

Sam moved to the U.S. in 2002 after meeting an American girl in London as a 20-year old. He and his wife married in 2000 and recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They have two children, a 7-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. He has been a stay-at-home father since their son was born.

Sam’s sister Sera recently made some very nice videos of him singing in his home studio. “Sparkling Thing” may be my favorite from the new album:

I’ve always loved “Unseen Hook” as well:



Visit Sera’s Youtube channel to see the rest.

Below are some of the topics Sam and I covered during a recent interview, including RateYourMusic, Bandcamp, TheSixtyOne, LastFM, and his dream of becoming a published novelist.

RateYourMusic

I discovered Sam on RateYourMusic, an amazing website that has grown into a thriving community with a very impressive database of albums and artists. Like me, he was one of the early members of that site back in 2002. I beat him there by just a few months.

“It was a tiny website back then,” he said. “It’s amazing. I’m so happy to see it turning into the resource it has become – one of only a tiny handful of extraordinary truly social media.”

MM: “Me too. [Site owner and creator] Sharifi is such an amazingly awesome guy. Sort of Zuckerberg’s good twin.”

Sam: “I owe him a HUGE amount. Seriously, w/o Sharifi and RYM, I wouldn’t have recorded all the albums I did. And I wouldn’t have reached the people I have reached.”

MM: “I certainly wouldn’t know about you. Or about tons and tons of my favorite music.”

Sam: “He’s on top of my Christmas card list for sure. RYM pretty much changed my life musically.”

MM: “How so? Just by giving you a venue and some networking?”

Sam: “Well, let me see… First of all, it opened up my eyes and ears to a whole world of music I wouldn’t have discovered, which influenced and changed me as a musician. Then, importantly, it provided a platform for me to experiment with listeners. I had played live in London for a while before moving to California, but I never had the feedback I got from RYM. Then, of course, the viral nature of a social website like RYM made distribution of my music very easy in way I had never imagined… I mean, RYM was not conceived as a venue for unsigned/under-the-radar musicians to upload their music, right?”

MM: “From my understanding it was an experiment, to create a database others would contribute to. That part definitely works.”

Sam: “But with the help of [RYM users] Matti, Kevvy, Jon Bohan and a few others, and tremendous support from many more, I was able to use the site as a personal musical forum.”

MM: “It’s an amazing database at this point.”

Sam: “Probably the only one of its kind – almost too complete! Lots of very anal music fans with too much time on their hands… I used to think I was a music geek, but now I know otherwise.”

MM: “There are levels of geek.”

Sam: “I am low-level for sure.”

Aspiring writer

Growing up with a music producer for a father had a big impact on Sam, but he has another passion: writing.

“Music was everywhere when I was growing up. Musicians of all kinds in and out of the house. I used to sit and watch the sessions from time to time, but I don’t remember ever thinking I wanted to be a musician. By the time I was in my mid-teens, I wanted to be a writer and that has never gone away.”

He has written two novels and would love to become a published novelist, but notes, “music is just as much a love of mine.

“You know, writing is just enormously satisfying. The writing process — I get a huge kick out of it. I finished the last novel this summer, right before i started working on The Boy in the Back and when I was done, I felt bereft.”

His novels cover a variety of subjects, including wasted youth, anxiety, sexual tension and murder. His last book was a comedy, which he refers to as “fluffy teen fiction, like Gossip Girl.” He pitched it to some agencies but didn’t have any takers. “I used to work in book publishing, so I know how it works. New authors never get a look-in. Only established names. You have to know someone or be someone.” But he notes, “people will continue to seek out good writing.”

He has toyed with the idea of giving his books away through digital downloads, the way he does his music. “There’s a way it could work. For the Kindle generation.”

Bandcamp

Like other indie musicians I’ve spoken with, Sam is a big fan of Bandcamp.com, which lets unsigned artists stream, give away and sell their music. “I never made anything from my music until I put the albums up on Bandcamp,” he said.

In fact, during our interview, he interjected, “Cool! Someone just bought an album on Bandcamp! While we were chatting. What a coincidence…”

Sam still thinks the website could be better: “It is really cool — but it isn’t perfect. It’s not a cohesive site. There’s no ‘web.’ It’s like a stack of pages, but no cross-references. So one artist is pretty much isolated from all the others and there’s nowhere for fans to comment on artist pages.”

MM: “Yeah, I’ve noticed that. It’s like each artist has an independent website, which is cool in a way, but not very lively for the music explorer.”

Sam: “Exactly exactly exactly. Great for me as an artist, not as a consumer.”

But speaking as a blogger, Bandcamp is pretty doggone convenient as it lets me embed songs and albums like so:

 

Live performances

Sam isn’t currently doing live performances, but doesn’t rule them out in the future. He is a bit stage-shy, but while in London he performed in some important folk venues. “I even played the 12-Bar on Denmark Street one time, probably my most prestigious performance,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking but well-received.” He explained that Denmark Street is “pretty much the epicentre of folk music in London and the UK, and the 12-Bar is the focal point — a live folk club for acoustic artists.”

He finished building a proper home recording studio last year and wants to get comfortable in it. “I am not opposed to playing live, but having been away from the live scene for so long, it is hard to know how to get back into it again,” he said. “I’m not keen on open mic, but i do appreciate that listeners want to see their favourite artists playing ‘in the flesh.'”

TheSixtyOne

I’m the one who talked Sam into joining TheSixtyOne.com. I was gratified to see how quickly he formed a bond with other folk musicians and found his audience. I was a little embarrassed later on, when the site changed into its current artist-unfriendly format, stripping away all those social networking tools. I’m relieved to find that he still thinks his time at T61 was well-spent. His songs are still on the site, though he isn’t seeing much activity there.

Sam: “T61… well… You introduced me to it and I was very excited at first.”

MM: “Yeah. I was trying to win a quest. The Evangelist or something. Plus I thought highly of your music and I thought you would do well there — and you did.”

Sam: “I had had a long hiatus from writing and recording, but something kind of clicked and I was excited about writing again. That was amazing — to be able to be involved in the process, watching people respond to my songs. It was very addictive.”

MM: “It was quite a supportive environment wasn’t it?”

Sam: “The charts, and the front page, etc., the comments I received were encouraging.”

MM: “Yeah. your fans rooting for you, trying to get you on the home page, helping you strategize.”

Sam: “And then, boom. It just ended.”

MM: “Your songs are still up right?”

Sam: “I guess — I never go there any more. Wouldn’t know how to get rid of them.”

MM: “I would leave them. The more places, the better.”

Sam: “I don’t disagree.”

LastFM

Sam also enjoys the popular music website Last.fm, which gives him valuable exposure as a musician. “I have a good relationship with Last.fm,” he said. “They’re good people.” He admits the site isn’t perfect, but is still a fan.

MM: “They’ve got issues too. That duplicate artist thing is a mess and a half.”

Sam: “Oh, yeah, that’s true. There were a couple of Pickering Picks last time I checked… One’s a Sam Pickering Pick I guess. But the communities and groups are cool.”

Speaking of which… A quick Internet search will come up with quite a few Pickering Picks.

Sam: “Ha ha. There are a few notable Pickering Picks. Thomas Pickering Pick is probably the biggest. My family were all famous surgeons. Surgeons to the royal family, etc.” (Gray’s Anatomy was co-written and edited by Thomas.)

With a bit of luck and perseverance, I’m betting that one day, Sam Pickering Pick the musician will be the first Pickering Pick folks think of when they look up his family.

Check out Sam’s website, listen to some of his songs and maybe send a little love his way. I think he deserves a few bucks at the very least for the musical gift he’s given us.

http://pickeringpick.com/

2 Comments

Filed under folk, indie, indie pop, interview, music, one to watch

An evening of blackness – Black Mountain and Black Angels perform in Austin, Nov. 19, 2010

The Black Angels - best I could do with my crappy cellphone camera. One of these days I'm gonna upgrade I swear.

Last night was a night for learning lessons. The ticket line into the Black Mountain/Black Angels concert stretched back for what seemed like a half a block, at least 50 people in front of us. You could hear Black Mountain working through the setlist. A big chunk of no doubt awesome rock ‘n’ roll already down the tubes and the line was barely moving.

Meanwhile, the guy at the gate at La Zona Rosa shouted, “Everyone on the guest list, come this way!” and a big group of folks bypassed the line and entered the club. A 20-something guy with a goatee behind me said he used to be friends with one of the Black Angels, but they lost touch. He could’ve been on the guest list and waltzed right on in. His lesson learned: Better stay friends with everyone just in case they make it big if you want to be on the guest list.

My lesson learned: If you pay for a “will call” ticket online, you better have some kind of receipt in your pocket just in case. I heard the doors were opening at 8 p.m., but usually when I go to shows, that just means they try to sell you drinks for a couple of hours before you get any tunes, so I didn’t get down there till 9-ish. By the time I got there, got parked and walked down from the parking garage Black Mountain was just starting up, but I wasn’t worried. I had a will call ticket waiting for me. I’d just go tell them and go right in.

I got in a not-very-long line, made it to the front, gave my name and… They had no record of my transaction. I had to go get in the regular ticket line, which was very long by this time. A scalper-in-waiting kept shouting, “Got any extra tickets?!” Which made me nervous. He knew and I knew it was probably gonna sell out. What if they messed up my order so badly that I didn’t get in at all? I got to the window and they ran my card, handed me a ticket and said, “Oh, you checked ‘print out pass’ instead of Will Call. No big deal.” Very convenient, since I can’t prove otherwise, but I don’t think I screwed up. I think it was their snafu. Especially since at least 4 other people I spoke to had the same experience with will call and had to go wait in line. Pissed me off, since Black Mountain was really the band I wanted to see (I reviewed them in this blog if you remember).

I got inside and heard about a minute’s worth of “Druganaut,”  plus a couple of unfamiliar songs that might’ve been off the new album, Wilderness Heart. Can’t speak for the rest of the album at this point, but what I heard was pretty much in line with the Black Mountain I already know — right in that sweet spot, where ’70s hard rock, psych and prog rock meet, nice early Sabbath vibe on some songs. One song reminded me a bit of classic Deep Purple. And then it was over. Sigh…

Got a gin and tonic in me and a pretty good contact high off the haze of marijuana smoke, then Austin’s own Black Angels took the stage. It wasn’t like the Legendary Pink Dots show, which I’ve described as a ritual of sorts. This was a rock show, put on by a young band whose star is rising. The place was packed full of adoring, very excited fans and the band picked up on that energy and returned it tenfold.

Before the show I heard a few Black Angels songs and liked them, but I didn’t really dig in and check them out, so I was basically experiencing this band for the first time. I spent a lot of time looking for influences. The main one that kept popping into my head was the 13th Floor Elevators. This was darker, more closely akin to goth, but still I felt like the band was doing things Roky Erickson would appreciate. Lots of feedback and reverb in the music. They also had a heavy beat that could be very hypnotic. On some of the songs there were actually two drummers.

Songs that stood out (tracked down by searching the web for key phrases) included: “Bloodhounds On My Trail,” “Science Killer” and “Young Men Dead” as well as the title track to the latest album, “Phosphene Dream.” Definitely a gothic angle to their music based on those song titles. I will be interested to hear the recorded version of the Black Angels after catching them live. Usually I get it the other way round.

Had another crazy guy incident, btw, although not as disruptive as the one at the Dots show. I think this guy was actually sane, but tripping out on something, bordering on freaking out. He kept jumping up and down with his arms out, screaming, like somebody in a Holy Roller church, bumping into me and others. Then he started rubbing around on some girls who would push him away, although one of them didn’t seem to mind that much. Then he stumbled into some guys who I thought were going to punch his lights out. They pushed him out of the way, which didn’t seem to phase him much. Finally, the girls whispered something in his ear. Not sure what they said, but it somehow penetrated his addled brain and he left. All in all I was impressed at how good-natured the crowd was. If you can be that annoying and not get punched, you’re surrounded by some pretty nice folks.

3 Comments

Filed under indie, indie rock, live show, music, one to watch, psych, review, rock, Uncategorized

No Star Too Far – My take on Legendary Pink Dots’ Nov. 10, 2010 concert in Austin

Edward Ka Spel

Imagine that a group of pagan priests knew all the right spells, got hold of some electronic equipment and assembled a starship powered by dreams and magic. That image came to me Wednesday night as I saw the Legendary Pink Dots in concert for the third time.

I always get the feeling I’m seeing a mystical event rather than a mere concert when I see the Dots play. Obviously the material has something to do with it, with its dreamlike mix of symbols, philosophy and dark humor, accompanied by electronic beats and washes of sound. There’s also something hypnotic about the way singer Edward Ka Spel, dressed in his robe and scarf, moves his hands. I get the feeling I’m watching a shaman perform a ritual.

The Dots played in a club on Red River called Elysium. A good club for a band like the Dots, the Elysium tends to host bands of the darker variety – goth, industrial and the like.

I wondered what they would be like with the new lineup. Short answer: They’ve still got it. Erik Drost, LPD guitarist from 2003 to 2006 is back in the band, coaxing pleasant screams out of his instrument. I definitely missed woodwind specialist Niels Van Hoorn’s zany presence, but without him you could really see how closely Ka Spel and Phil “The Sillverman” Knight work together. Silverman with his massive table of electronics, queuing up notes, rhythms and textures; Ka Spel with his smaller table, producing melodies and sound effects as he sings. All finely coordinated. Ka Spel pilots the starship, while Silverman operates its powerful engine, or maybe it’s the other way around?

I started out jotting down the setlist on my cellphone, but gave up pretty quickly and just let the music wash over me. The band has such an extensive back catalog that even if you’ve been a fan for years they can play a song you’d swear was new that turns out to be something old you just haven’t heard yet. I can tell you they had a satisfying mix of old favorites and songs off their latest, Seconds Late for the Brighton Line.

They opened with “The Unlikely Event” from All the King’s Horses, followed by “Third Secret” from The Maria Dimension, “Rainbows Too” from Plutonium Blonde, a really cool spoken word that might’ve been “God and Machines” from the new album, then “Russian Roulette,” the first song on the new album. Followed by lots and lots of great music, including many of my favorites. The encore featured a kickass version of “Birdie” from All the King’s Horses. About two hours of music altogether.

Just one sour note. A guy with long blond hair and a tank top who was either crazy or on drugs or both had to be escorted out by the bouncer. He kept shouting out nonsense at the band. Funny at first, then annoying. Then waving his arms in people’s faces. Finally a guy on the front row slipped out through the crowd, and pretty soon a big biker looking dude went over and dealt with crazy dude. After that no more distractions, which was awesome. I feel like I owe front row guy a beer for fetching the bouncer. The show certainly did get better after that.

The music was enhanced by the trippy film and slide collage from Lori “Surfer” Varga and her trusty assistant Eric. I’ve met her before – used to watch her film presentations at the Cathedral of Junk. I got her number and plan to interview her in the near future.

Note: Always take at least $20 or $40 to any LPD concert so you can take advantage of their amazingly well-stocked merch table. You’ll be kicking yourself later on if you don’t. You’re liable to find out that rare live album you were eying is impossible to find, or impossible to find without paying a premium to somebody on eBay.

I got the T-shirt with the Roulette design from the tour. Black of course. Almost got Ka Spel’s latest solo effort, The Minus Touch, but wound up getting the tour-only release by Ka Spel and The Silverman, The Thirty Year Itch. I’ve given that a few spins already and it’s quite good. Two long tracks. The first is a triptych on the subject of loneliness — a one night stand that didn’t happen, adrift at sea; and a monologue by an astronaut adrift in outer space followed by a “creation story” about the Big Bang; the second is a long experimental soundscape. Nice addition to my growing Dots-and-related collection.

I’ve been a huge Legendary Pink Dots fan for many years. I posted a sort of Dots 101 about the group a while back. There are several YouTube videos in case you haven’t heard their music. I also posted a list of tour dates here. The North American tour is winding down, but you’re in luck if you live on the West Coast. Quite a few California dates left, plus one in Oregon.

And send a little love their way if you can. They create their wonderful, thoughtful music and tour the world on a shoestring budget. LPD music and apparel can be found on the ROIR website.

26 Comments

Filed under dark ambient, darkwave, experimental, indie, live show, music, postrock, psych, review, rock, Uncategorized

Elgin, Texas ‘gets Kinky’ — that is, Kinky Friedman is coming to town

I recently got to interview someone I’ve admired for quite some time, Kinky Friedman, known to most folks as a crazy character who made an unsuccessful run for Texas governor (campaign slogan: Why the hell not?). I have a bit of a connection to the man, who makes his home in the Texas Hill Country. His family used to have a summer camp for Jewish children. My grandpa Vernon Williams was the town barber in nearby Medina; he used to go out there and cut hair. Everytime the subject of Kinky Friedman comes up, Mom mentions that.

My impression of the man? Funny as expected. But also a hell of a nice guy. I  think his rascal persona is mostly just that — a persona. Below is the news story as it will appear in the Nov. 10 Elgin Courier. I also posted a few videos, because people forget that he’s also a hell of a musician. His early career with the Texas Jewboys is the reason we even know about the man. And while most of his songs strike me as funny, some are also striking examples of country songwriting. “Sold America” is a masterpiece of a song. I’ll post again after I’ve heard him speak.

Kinky Friedman to speak in Elgin, Nov. 21

Elgin is about to get “Kinky” — Kinky Friedman, that is. Noted author, humorist, singer-songwriter and political candidate Richard S. “Kinky” Friedman will give a speech at the Elgin Public Library on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. Friedman was invited to the event by the Friends of the Elgin Library.

Friedman’s lecture will focus on his new book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and Friedman will sign autographs. The lecture is free and open to the public. In a telephone interview last week, Friedman said Heroes of a Texas Childhood features 23 people he admires — some are familiar to most Texans, others aren’t quite as familiar.

“Many recent college graduates never heard of many of them,” he said, naming Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and WWII hero Audie Murphy as examples. “A lot of Texans don’t know upon whose shoulders they stand.”Other heroes include Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. Two of his heroes are still alive: singer Willie Nelson and attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes. “They aren’t my heroes because they were persistent or lucky,” Friedman said. “They’re my heroes because of the tragedies and failures of their lives and how they dealt with them.”

Friedman said he regards Nelson as a hero, not because he is a fellow musician, but because of the kind of person he is. “He became a folk hero the hard way. Adaptability and pugnaciousness are what got him through where other equally talented musicians did not.”

He will also speak on his short story collection, What Would Kinky Do? The book was illustrated by the late artist John Callahan, a quadriplegic who created very painstaking, brilliant drawings.Friedman said he will sign an autograph for anyone who requests one.

“I’ll sign anything but bad legislation,” he said. He will also pose for photographs. “That’s one thing I learned from Willie [Nelson],” he said. “Willie will stay and sign autographs as long as it takes. People like Bob Dylan won’t do that.”Friedman is still performing music and recently finished a tour at 15 venues around the country, all of which sold out. “It feels like I won the race for governor everywhere but Texas,” he joked.

Frieman said his visit to Elgin is not part of a book tour. “Life is a book tour, or a political campaign,” he said. “The political campaign is in hibernation. Texas wants a governor with hair. Is that too much to ask? Music is a much purer art form than politics. I think it’s far better to be a musician than a politician.”

Friedman decided to visit Elgin after meeting Elgin Friends of the Library President Laura Stough on a plane. Stout asked him to speak in Elgin and he liked the idea — especially after learning that she was a professor of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M. Kinky’s father, Dr. Thomas Friedman, taught the same subject at her alma mater, the University of Texas. In addition, Friedman and Stough both served in the Peace Corps.“

He had already agreed, but when he found out that connection to his father, he said, ‘this has to be,’” Stout said.Friedman has an animal rescue operation in the Hill Country called Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch (www.utopiarescue.com), where he has taken in dogs, cats, donkeys and pigs.

“It’s a very happy orphanage,” he said. “The animals leave wistful when they get adopted. Money may buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.”Friedman’s program will be part of a series of literary events that has featured lectures from authors Susan Wittig, Rupert Isaacson and Judy Barrett. The Nov. 21 lecture will be free, but priority seating will go to the Friends of Elgin Library. There’s still time to join that organization before the event.For more information, call (512) 281-5678.

2 Comments

Filed under alt-country, country, interview, music, Uncategorized