Feb 11, 2014 - Kinky Friedman Returns To Jazz Depot Wednesday
When multifaceted musician, writer, and political figure Kinky Friedman hits the Jazz Depot stage for his upcoming show, it’ll be one of the rare non-Texas stops on his “Seeds of Change” tour, which began early last month. The tour’s name refers to Friedman’s current primary run for Agriculture Commissioner of Texas, on a platform of legalizing marijuana and hemp, which he believes “could be the great new cash crops of Texas.”
In a symbolic sense, however, the “seeds” could also refer to the songs he’s written and recorded. As is the case with any creative achievement, once they’re sown, there’s no telling where they might end up growing.
In Friedman’s case, they made it all the way to Africa, and to the ears of one of the greatest civil-rights leaders who ever walked the earth,
“I didn’t know this until the year I went to South Africa, on a book tour for [his 1995 novel] God Bless John Wayne,” Friedman says. “I did some concerts over there, and I also did a TV show with Dali Tambo. He’s the son of Oliver Tambo, who was Nelson Mandela’s mentor and died when Mandela was in prison.
“There was an African guy named Tokyo Sexwale on with me, and he was Mandela’s right-hand man. He spent 17 years on Robben Island in the cell next to Mandela. During the break, he told me, `Mandela’s a big fan of yours.’
“I said, `Oh, really? He reads my books?”
“And he said, `No, no, it’s not the books. It’s the music.’”
As it turned out, Friedman explains, music was ”semi-smuggled” into the prison from the outside, often on cassette tapes, and one of the albums that made it to Mandela’s cell was Friedman’s first effort, his eponymously titled disc released in 1974 by ABC Records.
“Tokyo said, `I remember him playing two songs of yours over and over, hundreds and hundreds of times.’ The two songs that he heard Mandela play were “Sold American” and “Ride ‘Em, Jewboy.”
“And then,” adds Friedman, “he said, `Well, now, don’t get too swelled a head, because his favorite [artist] was Dolly Parton. You were his second favorite.’
“I just started thinking, you know. This was my first album, recorded in Nashville, and I thought well, hell, this is going to be kind of a nice outlaw [country] groundbreaking thing. But you never think that Nelson Mandela is going to listen to this in a prison cell on the other side of the world. You really don’t. So if you’re an artist of any kind, you just never know who you’re reaching.”
He’ll be reaching folks a little closer to his home state on Wednesday, when he makes what has become an annual trip north to the Jazz Depot. And while it comes in the midst of his campaign for public office, and he’s obviously passionate about the legalization cause, the concert will feature, as his publicity material puts it, “everything for which Kinky is famous.” That’s likely to include Nelson Mandela’s two favorite Friedman songs, as well as “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed,” two more well-known numbers in his repertoire.
He may even reveal to the Tulsa audience that he doesn’t smoke pot himself – except, he notes, on very special occasions.
“I probably should say that I did smoke dope with Willie [Nelson] in Hawaii last month, coming back from the Australian tour,” he reveals. “So I don’t do pot. I just do it with Willie, because that’s Texas etiquette.”
The Jazz Depot show, he adds, will get the blend of “some politics, some music,” that people have come to expect from him, with perhaps just a little extra on the political side this time, given his contemporary “Seeds of Change” campaign.
“I think it’ll be really fun,” Friedman says. “It’s going to be a good one.”
Kinky Friedman’s “Seeds of Change” show is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 12, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, online, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $16, reserved table seating $30, VIP table seating $70. VIP seating includes a special pre-show reception with Friedman along with an autographed copy of either his book Heroes of A Texas Childhood or his CD Lost and Found: The Famous Living Room Tape.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form. Friedman’s appearance benefit’s the Jazz Hall’s education programming.