Aftermath: The Sentimental Side Of Prankster Politician Kinky Friedman At The Mucky Duck

Aftermath: The Sentimental Side Of Prankster Politician Kinky Friedman At The Mucky DuckEXPAND
Photos by Brittanie Shey

Before we get started, Aftermath has a confession to make. We support Kinky Friedman. In 2006, we registered to absentee vote from Korea for the express purpose of voting for him for Governor, and we support him in his current bid to run for Agriculture Commissioner. He's exactly the kind of larger-than-life character that makes Texas grand. Having said that, our knowledge of his musical career was limited, at least until last night. Aftermath knew the nuts and bolts - we've heard much of his satirical work, like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore," read his column in Texas Monthly religiously, devoured the hilarious sound bites he happily delivers, and even read one of his detective novels. But we'd never seen him live, nor explored his pretty large catalog of music. If Bob Wills and Will Rogers had a baby, that baby would emerge fully-grown as Kinky Friedman. If the baby was mentored by Dean Martin, you'd get the Texas Jewboys, Kinky's backing band, which last night featured Little Jewford and Washington Ratso. The trio performed two shows at the Mucky Duck. Aftermath was unsure exactly what kind of show Kinky would provide, since he's currently on the campaign trail (the primary election is March 2). He peppered part of his show with political messages - well, explicit political messages, since much of Kinky's music is political in nature - but the show was also part lounge act, part reading and part stand-up.

Kinky is adept at delivering pithy one-liners á la the Rat Pack between songs: "I was so high I had to scratch my ass with a stepladder!" Or "When I die I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown into Rick Perry's hair." He also enjoys giving equal time to his fellow musicians - Jewford on keyboards, kazoo and melodihorn, and Ratso on guitar. The Jewboys played a broad mix of Kinky's songs, from "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight" to "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," along with covers like Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" (with Jewford on melodihorn to fill in the accordion parts), Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Battle of Ira Hayes," a political protest song recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Pete Seeger. Early in the show, Kinky introduced his band by saying "Hello. I'm Kay Bailey Hutchison." The crowd tittered. Kinky tried to get Mucky Duck owner Rusty Andrews to play a campaign commercial recorded by Willie Nelson, and while he was waiting, he relayed this advice Nelson had given him: "If you're going to have sex with an animal, always make it a horse. That way, if things don't work out, at least you have a ride home."  

Halfway through the show, Kinky took a break to read a chapter from his latest book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood. Much of Kinky's books are formulaic detective novels, but this recent one, which is available at Murder by the Book, seems much more serious. He read a chapter about his father, who started the Kerrville summer camp farm where Kinky still lives. Other chapters feature Ann Richards, Molly Ivins and Davy Crockett.

After the show, Kinky sold copies of the book and sat for signings. "I'll sign anything but bad legislation," he joked. The reading, though, served to illustrate what surprised us about Kinky's songs - how much of his work can be quietly sentimental under that layer of sarcasm. Of course, there's always the subversive side too. At the end of the show, Kinky, who'd been chomping on an unlit cigar between songs, lit the stogie up on stage, exhaled a huge puff of smoke, and bowed.


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