Like Zoro, Paladin, Johnny Cash, and the other men in black, it must be easy to do Kinky Friedman’s laundry; no sorting required. With his trademark black hat, black jeans, black boots, black shirt, and black knee length “Hasidic” jacket, this guy has it all together. At least nothing clashes.

A few of the HVBA members (Lynn, Steve and Rob Lipton, and Mike Foley) had the opportunity to chat with Kinky before he went on stage at The Linda in Albany last night as he hit the mid-point of his “Bi-Polar Tour” of the East Coast.

When asked about his musical influences he recalled getting his first guitar when he was twelve or thirteen. Although he doesn’t really consider himself a guitar player he makes it work for his stage performances, keeping it simple with Hank Williams' style of country ballads. He said knew Bill Monroe, whom he referred to as “the only Democrat on the Grand Ole Opry,” through Hazel Smith, Bill Monroe’s girlfriend, who was a friend of Kinky’s.   Bill told Kinky his trick to getting your voice back after too many songs: drink black coffee with lemon ... and Kinky swears it actually works.

Kinky has a few signature products: his cigars (which is ever present in his hand, but I never saw it lit), “Man in Black” tequila which is not your father’s tequila -- but more like your grandfather’s gardener’s tequila), and Texas Salsa. Like Paul Newman’s Salad Dressing, a lot of the proceeds of these products go to fund his charitable passion, Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, staffed mostly by volunteer seniors, which he runs on the site which once was a summer camp run by his father.

His music heroes were the “geezers” of the music business, Hank Williams, Slim Whitman, Jimmy Rogers, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Warren Zevon, Van Dyke Parks, and Woodie Guthrie.  His opinion of today's music “stars” is that they are just short time flashes. Kinky says he loves Woody’s song, “Pretty Boy Floyd,” because even though it was written in the dust bowl era, it spoke to the future and there are lines in that song still resonate to our country's condition today. [Editor’s Note: Listen to a clip of Track 6 from the “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album by the Byrds, for a great bluegrass version of that song]. Also on one of Kinky’s album, Marty Stewart plays a great bluegrass “Cherokee Shuffle.”

The Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo - "Pretty Boy Floyd"


Kinky Friedman - From One Good American To Another - "Cherokee Shuffle"


Kinky ran for Governor of Texas in 2006 and said that he “won in everyplace but Texas.” He did mobilize young voters and students. If I lived in Texas, I would have voted for him at least twice as he promised that he would appoint Willie Nelson as his drug tzar. He actually intends to run again in 2014, this time not as an independent, but as a Democrat.

For those of you who want to catch the Kinkster on his Bi-Polar Tour in the Hudson Valley, he will be appearing at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on Saturday, June 23 and will also be at Cafe Nine in New Haven on Tues, June 19.

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