Another music legend comes to Kingston! The rumours you may have heard recently are true – Leon Redbone, the reclusive and enigmatic musical icon will be coming to Kingston on Tues., Nov. 29th. His origins may be a mystery but there is no doubt that his talent and musicianship are of the highest calibre. This will be an evening not to be missed!
Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 2011 – 8 pm
Chalmers United Church, Barrie St. at Clergy, Kingston
Tickets: $25 + HST, available at Grand Theatre box office (613-530-2050), online at www.kingstongrand.ca and at Brian’s Record Option.
Over the course of his legendary 35 year – 15 album career, Leon Redbone has continued his love affair with tunes from the turn-of-the-twentieth century. He is a master guitarist, dry comedian and warm and witty singer whose concerts include forgotten old pop songs, classic ragtime, flapper-era radio ditties, blues from the likes of Lonnie Johnson or Blind Blake, and jazz standards by Fats Waller.
Redbone’s career first gained momentum in the early ’70s when Bob Dylan came to Toronto Island’s Mariposa Folk Festival specifically to see him. Most folks were introduced to the man during his network debut on Saturday Night Live in 1976, where he showcased his indelible version of Walkin’ Stick. In a year typified by amplified arena rock, Redbone’s intimate, low-key delivery proved to be a jolting and welcome contrast. Since then the opportunities for this unlikely figure to impose himself on pop culture have been plentiful. He appeared as a wise, animated snowman opposite Will Ferrell in the hugely popular family comedy Elf. His duet with star Zooey Deschanel on the seasonal standard Baby, It’s Cold Outside served as the picture’s theme song. Over the years, Redbone has also provided TV title tunes to Mr. Belvedere and Harry and the Hendersons, and had a memorable guest role as a quixotic, guitar-wielding guardian to the character Corky on ABC’s critically acclaimed series Life Goes On. New York choreographer Eliot Feld recently created the ballets Mr. XYZ (featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Paper Tiger, which were woven around Redbone’s signature songs.
If there is one common element to Redbone’s diverse music it’s his mastery of his acoustic guitar. It is easy to get lost in his stage exploits (which often gravitate between vaudeville and performance art) and overlook what a truly fine player he is – fingerpicking with a ragtime bounce or jumping between chords with the effortless grace of a hurdler.
No description of Redbone omits the fact that he has been a singular force in bringing a style and period of music to many people who may not have heard it otherwise. While critics may argue about the emphasis placed on his persona, his reverence for the music has never been questioned. With a desire to remain true to himself – whoever he is – and Blind Blake, Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and the rest of his idols, Redbone is as much an educator as a performer, a professor of one of the richest periods in American music. And although he told Rolling Stone’s Weitzman, that regarding himself, “I don’t want them to know anything that they don’t know already,” he’d like more people to know about this music.
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