Music » Livewire

Leon Redbone

Friday, September 14, at the Winchester, Lakewood.

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Leon Redbone is a cross between a Southern gent, Bing Crosby, and Groucho Marx. For him, music began to go downhill in the '30s. In essence, he is the Michigan J. Frog of the old Warner Bros. cartoon, hopping out of his time capsule to do a vaudevillian song and dance.

Crooning pre-Depression jazz, blues, and Tin Pan Alley, Redbone appeared out of nowhere (he keeps all personal details secret) to do his shockingly anachronistic routine in the disco '70s. After some albums, Saturday Night Live appearances, and commercials, Redbone slowed down in the '90s. But open up that capsule and out he hops into the 21st century, with cane and straw boater.

When compared with the cartoon frog, Redbone replies, "Well, I'm resigned to the fact that I have virtually no connection with -- I wouldn't say 'reality,' but I have no connection with any of the standards that I'm supposed to conform to, or at least people's perception of what I'm supposed to conform to. That's never been my life experience."

As for folks keeping up with the latest fashions, he says, "They are simply the product of a certain moment in time. And that's the point of recognition. It's almost as if you're a factory product, and you're stamped with the logo, the serial number, and so forth. And that's what you are as an individual."

Redbone doesn't seem to understand that he has stamped himself with a "1929." But his serial number is certainly more unique than all the 1957, 1968, 1977, and 1981 models out there.

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