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Jeff Moehlis

Jeff Moehlis: They Ain’t Makin’ ‘Em Like Kinky Friedman Anymore

Acclaimed humorist/musician/author/political candidate visiting our parts for two concerts

Humorist/musician/author/political aspirant Kinky Friedman will be performing his music in Santa Ynez on Saturday and in Ventura on Sunday.

Humorist/musician/author/political aspirant Kinky Friedman will be performing his music in Santa Ynez on Saturday and in Ventura on Sunday.  (Larry Pullen photo)

By Jeff Moehlis, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

Before Kinky Friedman became a bestselling author of mystery novels, or ran for the governor of Texas as an independent in 2006 (coming in fourth out of six candidates), he recorded some of the funniest country music ever committed to tape. His best-known songs include “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” which aren’t exactly hymns to political correctness. But they probably will make you laugh, and might even make you think.

Friedman, in mostly-musician mode, will be performing at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on Saturday and at Zoey’s Cafe in Ventura on Sunday.

The following is condensed from a phone interview with Friedman. Click here for the full interview, including Friedman talking about touring with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson’s new book and what he thinks of Barry Manilow.

Jeff Moehlis: Do you have any thoughts on the recent presidential election?

Kinky Friedman: Very few. I’m not very impressed with any of the people in Washington right now. Lately I think they tend to follow a Neville Chamberlain mode, instead of a Winston Churchill mode. I don’t see anybody there that’s really made any courageous decisions. I would like to see someone like Harry Truman or Barbara Jordan, someone like that, someone with a little bit of Sam Houston’s integrity. And I don’t.

Basically these guys in Washington, we should limit them all to two terms. One in office, and one in prison.

JM: Do you still have any political aspirations?

KF: Well, now that you ask, I’m reviewing the possibility of running for governor in the Democratic primary. That would be March 2014. I don’t think that Jesus Christ could get elected here as an independent. So I think that’s the way to go. And I would run as an old-time Blue Dog Harry Truman Democrat. Were I to win that, I think we’d be in great shape. I think we’d get a lot of independent votes, and a lot of Republican votes as well.

When I ran in 2006, people were so concerned, you know, do you want a comedian in the governor’s mansion? And now we realize that we’ve had one for 12 f***ing years.

JM: What can you tell me about the upcoming tour in California?

KF: Well, when you do a Bi-polar Tour, a fact-finding mission, we’re calling it, a Bi-polar Tour is when we’re doing 28 shows in 27 days. And what that does is it puts you running on adrenaline. There’s really a lot of Woody Guthrie and Townes van Zandt in this show, and a little bit of Judy Garland as well.

JM: Could you explain the Judy Garland?

KF: There’s just a moment in each show, and I don’t know where it’s going to fall, where the rapport with the audience is Judy Garland-like. I am not gay, all right?

This will be a solo tour, the whole thing. So that really is different from what I have been doing. But it worked beautifully on the East Coast, and I think it’s going to be great in California.

It’s politics, humor, songs. We’ll also have available for the first time in California Kinky Friedman’s Man in Black Tequila. Everybody will get a free tasting, and I think we’ll auction some of it to benefit Animal Utopia Rescue Ranch. I tell you, this isn’t your father’s tequila. This is your grandfather’s gardener’s tequila.

JM: On the night you’re performing in Ventura, it turns out that Snoop Dogg is also performing in town. Are you a fan of Snoop Dogg?

KF: [laughs] Well, I am now. I think he’s helped the book that I did along with Willie [Nelson] a great deal. I also recommend that everybody pick it up. It makes a great gift for Hanukkah or Christmas. That would be Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, which is now No. 14 on the New York Times bestseller list. I wrote the forward to it. [Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson recently collaborated on the songs “Superman” and “Roll Me Up.”]

By the way, at the shows I’ll do a reading from Heroes of a Texas Childhood. Twenty-three heroes of mine from when I was a kid. That’ll be available after the show for signing, and of course I will sign anything but bad legislation.

JM: Any stories you’re willing to share from hanging out with Led Zeppelin?

KF: Yeah, that’s a very long time ago. The guy who was bugled to Jesus, who was he, John Bonham?

JM: Yeah, John Bonham, the drummer.

KF: The drummers always go first. I mean, they’re the craziest. Keith Moon, too. Bonham I liked. We just drank Black Marys all the way, which was a Bloody Mary with about one-third Worcestershire sauce in it. Maybe that’s what killed him. It certainly stunted my growth.

Then I urinated backstage next to Jimmy Page. I also urinated next to Groucho Marx and Donald Rumsfeld.

JM: [laughs] That’s quite a collection.

KF: Once I took a Nixon, you know, took a dump backstage in Colorado on the Bob Dylan tour. ... There were three outhouses there, three porta potties. I was in the middle one. Just as I was coming out the other two doors opened as well, and on my left was Joan Baez, and on my right was Alan Ginsberg. Letting the possum out. It was a spiritual bond. Joan Baez and Alan Ginsberg there.

JM: There was some synchronicity there, I’d say.

KF: Yeah, there was something there.

JM: Are they making Jews like Kinky Friedman anymore?

KF: Somewhere they are. They don’t seem to in America. American Jews are not very inspirational, with the exception of some of the rebels, the Bob Dylans, the Lenny Bruces, that crowd. Most of them seem pretty politically weak, and they’re not an inspirational group. I don’t know, one would think that they would support Israel more than they do, maybe. But we don’t need to get into all that.

JM: That’s a long conversation.

KF: The best thing about being a Jew is being on the outside looking in. That’s an important angle. If you can stay there, you might make a good artist. If you can stay outside of the country club like Lieutenant Columbo, and observe what they do.

JM: Where are you speaking to me from?

KF: Right from the heart of Texas. A ranch. My private, cluttered sanctum in here. Yeah, about an hour from San Antonio, two hours from Austin. One of the reasons they call me the Governor of the Heart of Texas. One of the reasons.

I think there’s a real shot, because there’s been a political drought in Texas for 22 years, ever since Ann Richards, where one party has controlled every single statewide position. That’s never any good. That’s ripe for corruption and sloth, and that’s about all we’ve had. I hope to break that political drought. I hope to be the rainmaker.

JM: My brother lives in Texas, and he said that Ann Richards looked like my grandmother. So that of course made me instantly like her.

KF: Ann looked like everybody’s grandmother.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 12.06.12 @ 02:26 PM

Is his band still called The Texas Jewboys?

» on 12.07.12 @ 04:09 AM

Apparently there is no band for this concert - just Kinky.  The opener is Brian Molnar.

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