Over the weekend we learned of at least one high profile 2012 recording project that involves Houston at least peripherally: local arts patron and charity fundraiser Carolyn Farb will be the executive producer of a Jesse Dayton album of Kinky Friedman covers tentatively titled Sold American.
Farb was part of a group who staged last year's theatrical event, Becoming Kinky: The World According To Kinky Friedman, which premiered at McGonigel's Mucky Duck. Dayton was one of a group of four actors on the stage, playing the part of Friedman in his singer-songwriter heyday. Accompanied by longtime Friedman sideman/sidekick Little Jewford on keyboards, Dayton handled most of the musical part of the production.
Dayton explains that while working on the play, he was forced to revisit Friedman's catalog and it came to him what a great songwriter Friedman was during the height of his career as a traveling troubadour beginning in the early Seventies.
"Then a few months back we did the play in Marfa, which was in a big theater and sold out, so we started getting interest to do it in New York. There were a lot of those Marfa people from New York there. And that's probably the first time I told Carolyn and Kinky I wanted to do a record of all of the Kinky songs that were not the hokey, quirky, funny stuff, but songs like "Sold American," Rapid City, South Dakota," "Nashville Casualty and Life," etc.
"I didn't even try to sell her on it. She called me shortly after that and asked if I wanted to have lunch in Austin the next day. I was very surprised, but Carolyn really is Kinky's biggest supporter. So we had this meeting and she just said, 'Okay, I'm onboard, I'll be the executive producer, make it happen.'"
Farb confirms Dayton's story.
"Kinky and I had talked and he was very impressed with the interpretations Jesse did of the songs when he was doing the play," Farb said. "I believe in Kinky, I think he's one of our Texas treasures, and I think this is such a viable idea because Jesse will add a little sex appeal to the songs versus Kinky's versions. I really believe Kinky's serious songs are as good as Bob Dylan's or Willie Nelson's. I've always thought that."
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Dayton, who was reached in Burbank, California where he was on a tight deadline to finish editing his horror film Zombex, said he thinks the time is right for an album of covers of Friedman's work.
"The way I look at it is that most of those Kinky songs that aren't novelty songs, you can't even buy because they were never re-mastered or released on CD, they're just on vinyl. If I can write better arrangements and give them a kick in the ass, it's possible a whole new audience will get turned onto them. Besides I've been wanting to do a Jesse Sings ... record. Artists used to do those all the time, but no one does those anymore."
Farb noted that the songs had already been agreed upon and that Dayton had begun lining up players for the project.
"I don't know how soon we can start recording, that depends on Jesse's schedule, but I think we'll be moving pretty quickly once he gets his movie commitments out of the way," said Farb. "I just hope this album gets a chance to get out there beyond Texas into the wider world, and that the Americana music community embraces it. And obviously, I hope it broadens Kinky's appeal, because I believe in him so."