March 2009 Leon Redbone (Alladin)

April 2, 2009

“That was the sing-along……..”

Well, here it is, April 2, and you thought I forgot, didn’t you! You thought I forgot all about my 12 shows in 12 months, because there’s been no March concert review.

Well, fear not. By the skin of my teeth, I made it to the ol’ Aladdin Theater last Monday, March 30.

This performer has always been a mysterious character, and this show certainly held true to that. On stage, a small bentwood chair was flanked by antique occasional tables, each with a lamp. The kind of lamps you would see in an old Victorian home, or at least in a thrift store. Next to the chair, was a small plastic wastepaper basket. There was a piano draped in sheets off to the side. Over the PA, a barely audible old-time jazz tune was playing – it sounds like a scratchy 78 rpm.

This can only mean one thing.

It must be time for a Leon Redbone concert.

The roadies come out and turn on both lamps. The house lights dim, and a shadowy yet familiar figure emerges – Panama Hat, walking stick, dark shades. He looks just like every picture I’ve ever seen of him. Always a character, Leon’s show is a mix of deadpan humor, vaudeville, and greatly understated ragtime-blues style guitar. The guitar style matches his gravelly, hushed voice. It wasn’t uncommon for him to sing a verse, and then hum and whistle along to the next verse.

This was possibly one of the quietest shows I’ve ever been to. Luckily, we were in the 3rd row. Leon seemed to be keeping time with both feet. Before the 3rd song, he suddenly asked if there was a brick in the house! A roadie eventually provided him with one – and Leon used it so he could prop his right foot up. (Classical guitar players will do this too, when they sit down to play.)

Leon Redbone tuned his guitar a lot. Since he was accompanied by a piano, he kept tuning his guitar directly to that instrument. Sometimes he would hit the neck of his guitar with his hand, as to “make” the guitar go into the right key.

He referred to his crumpled up set list that he pulled out of his suit coat as a “unique list of artifacts” mainly old-time swing, jazz and blues songs, and usually announced, after the song was finished, that song, of course, was the “sing along.” Mixed in with his set list, were old photographs that he gladly shared with us. One photo was of a long-forgotten jazz recording pioneer, the other photo, was of course, Don Ho and Barbara Eden, on a beach in Hawaii. Go figure!

But perhaps the best piece of advice from this iconic performer:



1) Big Chief Buffalo Nickel?

(not sure on this one)

2) She’s My Gal

3) Another Story, Another Time,

Another Place

4) Sweet Sue, Just You

5) Marie

6) Her love belongs to me??

7) “Vienna” (whistled to an old recording

of zither music)??

8) Please don’t talk about me when I’m gone

9) After Tonight (solo piano)

10) I Ain’t Got Nobody

11) Step it Up and Go

12) My Blue Heaven

13) Ain’t Misbehavin

14) Shine On Harvest Moon

15) Encore 1 – Oh Susannah, Dust Off

That Old Piano

16) Encore 2 - If We Never Meet Again this

Side of Heaven

p.s. – the only Leon Redbone album I own is “Christmas Island.” So I’m not sure of the titles on #1, #6, and #7. See you at the next show!

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