Kinky Friedman may be the self-proclaimed “Governor of the Heart of Texas,” but the multitalented musician counts one of Oklahoma's most revered singer-songwriters among the inspirations for his new tour.
“The ‘Bi-Polar Tour' now is 28 shows in 27 days, all solo. So it evokes the spirit of Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt and Judy Garland,” Friedman, also a self-described gambling addict, said in a phone interview last week from Las Vegas.
“That's a good role model, Woody, and I don't know, we'll see how this thing goes. You know, I don't want to become bipolar on this tour. But anything's possible.”
Well, almost anything is possible. At any rate, the “Jewish Troubadour,” 68, is launching the second leg of his tour Friday night in Kansas City, Mo., and making his way to Oklahoma City's Blue Door on Sunday night.
“My goal, of course, has always been to be an elderly black blues singer. But it doesn't look like that's gonna be possible. I mean, I don't care about money. You know, the only currency I value is the coin of the spirit, and let's hope we have a lot of that going for us on the ‘Bi-Polar Tour,'” Friedman said.
The exception to that rule may be Monday night when he returns to Tulsa to play his annual benefit concert for the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
“I will keep us out of war with Oklahoma; I promise that,” he joked about his Sooner State dates.
The Texas Hill Country denizen also promises that each “Bi-Polar Tour” stop will be just him and his guitar, playing his classic songs such as “Sold American,” “Wild Man From Borneo,” “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service Unto You,” “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed” and “They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”
That the show will include storytelling, humor and politics probably goes without saying, but he also plans to do a reading from his nonfiction book “Heroes of a Texas Childhood.”
“Of course, I will sign anything but bad legislation,” he quipped. “There will even be some new jokes.”
No time to be idle
What won't be new are the songs, mostly because Friedman hasn't written one in a quarter-century. Not that he has been idle.
In the 1980s, he shifted his attention to writing detective novels featuring a fictionalized version of himself and boasting appropriately outrageous titles such as “Armadillos & Old Lace,” “Greenwich Killing Time” and “A Case of Lone Star.”
He also has penned several nonfiction books, including two collaborations with famed friends that were released this year: “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road” with Willie Nelson and “The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts” with Billy Bob Thornton.
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