Since you’re a Twangville reader, you probably heard Leon Redbone passed away this week. Chances are good you heard that from a friend or a post in your group; mainstream media never really discovered Leon. He was a performer rooted in 100-year-old entertainer traditions and his music pushed boundaries even as it sounded sort of familiar. That unique mix never quite hit home for the popular music taste-makers. I don’t recall many musicians citing Leon as an influence, and yet all of them have listened to his music.
A Rolling Stone article once said of a live Redbone performance, “it’s so authentic you can hear the crackle of the 78-rpm record in the air of the room.” I can vouch for that, at least the times I saw him. He could pair a dobro with a trumpet, as in this video, or a banjo with a tuba. The result of those instruments and his comedic interludes between songs delivered not just a performance, but an atmosphere. If you’re not familiar with Leon’s music, listen to a couple of his songs this weekend. They’ll make your soul smile.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.