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Leslie Newman, Last Concert Cafe Fixture, Passes Away

Word has reached Rocks Off that veteran Houston singer-songwriter Leslie Newman has succumbed to leukemia. According to sources at Last Concert Café, Newman died around 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Apparently Newman's condition worsened considerably three days ago and he had been unable to eat since.

Newman held down a regular singer-songwriter night at Last Concert Café the past few years, and was noted for his many songs with a distinct local flavor. Writing about former Oilers owner Bud Adams, Newman wrote the hilarious but telling indictment: "He's got a new approach/ He's hired Hitler for his quarterback/ And Satan for his coach."

Local music historian Dr. Roger Wood reviewed Newman's eponymous 2000 album for these pages. The songs were similar to Townes Van Zandt's work - perhaps a little too similar - but, Wood wrote, "to make a confession, the songs get better the more you listen to 'em."

"Newman's self-titled CD unceasingly emphasizes his stylistic kinship to Van Zandt. It's there in Newman's aw-shucks vocal delivery, an unschooled and wavering baritone drawl that occasionally sounds like a Van Zandt impersonation.

"Might be the old Oilers fan in you, who knows, but there's something here in Leslie Newman that works," Wood concluded. "Heck, you might even find yourself singing along to a few tunes. Call it Bayou City folk music for the 21st century."

Arrangements are pending.

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William Michael Smith