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Leon's Sidemen and Friends
Johnathan D
Jonathan Dorn, Tuba
"Doing SNL four times was a wonderful experience. Twice just the two of us and twice with other players and it did a lot for my career. Touring was tough, a different town, city and sometimes country every day and night. Bones was difficult to travel with, lots of rules. Musically it was amazing and I got to play with Bobby Gordon, Scott Black, Peter Ecklund, Vince Giordano etc. The first two years were just Bones and I and we did two European tours, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and all of Canada, an amazing experience. Working with Bones afforded me great friendships with John Prine, Tom Waits, Leo Kotke, David Bromberg, Steve Goldman, Bonnie Raitt and Jethro Burns. Not playing my own horn, but being his main accompanist all those years was a great experience. Jethrow Burns played with them. We had great hangs after shows, also met tons of fans, most good some very scary. Got to see many countries, great clubs, bars, after hours clubs too, a real trip. Musically, a wonderful experience. Getting to be very close friends with George Carlin was a total blast. We did two years sharing shows with him. We used to hang in my room after shows, unreal conversations. A true gentleman and a genius, I miss him".
                                                                        Jonathan Dorn
Richard Barnes and Leon
Leon Redbone and Richard Barnes
"I was a Leon fan long before I was a sporatic sideman. One night at a show I mentioned to Leon and Beryl that I wanted to audition to play Dobro with him Beryl said "Come to Reading, Pa
next Friday night". There was no audition-I was placed on the stage along with John Gill and off we went- no set list, no discussion or hint of  what song was next, just follow Leon's lead and play! Every night was an adventure, stories, laughs, meeting new people, seeing old friends".
                                  Richard Barnes
Fritz Raiser
Fritz Raiser
"I auditioned for Leon Redbone back in 1984. No pressure, set up, do one song at the sound check and if he liked you, you stayed and played the show. If he didn't like you, pack it up and leave. No practice, just play the show with Jonathan Dorn and Dr. Jazz, Brian Bauer. The next night we played the University of Buffalo. When I walked in the dressing room, I could hear Leon, but didn't see his eminence anywhere. Leon had locked himself in a dark closet, because he did not want to hear the rock music over the sound system. Leon was singing along with a tape of the Hungarian gypsy virtuoso Imre Laszlo. The next night I watched a SNL replay of Leon and Jonathan. Leon the entertainer, was always spot on funny. So I played from 1984 until his second last show. Played dates over the East Coast, Midwest and did some work on a California tour. I had the absolute pleasure of working with Jonathan Dorn, Scott Black, Kenny Peplowski, Brian Bauer, Cindy Cashdollar, Tom Roberts, Dan Levinson, Vince Giordano, Bobby Gordon, Terry Waldo, Paul Asaro and many other great musicians".
                                                                Fritz Raiser
Leon and Levinson
Leon and Dan Levinson
Photo Courtesy of Tom Roberts
"I was 24 when I did my first shows with LR in 1990. I didn't know how to dress properly and barely knew how to get around my clarinet, which I'd only started playing a few years earlier. I performed with him for the last time 25 years later, in 2015, not long before he hung up his guitar for the last time. During some of those years I was a regular member of his touring "orchestra"- which usually included as many as two people. At the end, I understood less about him than the day I met him. We played, more or less, the same songs at every show. And yet no two shows were alike. It was never tedious, never pure repetition; every show was unique in some way - and often in MANY ways. Things seemed to invariably go awry. As desperately as I tried to conceive and to follow a plan, based on what he'd done at previous shows, I never could. Sometimes I'd walk offstage with him after a show feeling as though I'd made every possible mistake, and he'd say something like, "You played really well. What happened?" Other times - though rarely - I'd feel as though everything "clicked", and as we came offstage he'd say, "Did you have a stroke?" It took me years to realize he WANTED things to go awry. That's what kept it fresh and interesting for him - and for me, too. We never played a concert: what we did was a vaudeville show. The music was incidental. His fans understood that, consciously or not, which is why he could spend ten minutes of the show tuning his guitar, or spend two minutes taking a drink from his glass, or merely raise a single eyebrow over the top of his dark glasses - and nobody grew impatient. It was entertainment - HIS KIND of entertainment. I can honestly say I've never consistently had as much fun performing as I did with him. In conversation, he was fond of saying, "The mind is a terrible thing." Those who knew him appreciated the irony. Those who didn't - be they simple country folk greeting him at the end of a show or clueless talk-show hosts - couldn't stop themselves from adding, "to waste, I know." And he'd raise an eyebrow."
                                                 Dan "Danley" Levinson
George Needham
George Needham
"I not only went to the coffeehouse gig at UB in 1972, Leon yelled at me there. I was working a camera for the campus video group and he didn't want us to record his set. So I turned off the recorder but was practicing with the camera while he was on. When he saw what I was doing he laid into me. I just sat down and listened to the rest of the set, properly chastened."
                                      George Needham
Josh Alan Friedman
Josh Alan Friedman
"I worked at Regent Sound Studios NYC and was there during the recording of Leon's first record. I would have set up an Electro-Voice RE-15 microphone or RE-16 on a small boom with a chair, in the huge Studio A, Neumann 87 as well. Studio A was designed for orchestras, but with a solo artist, like Don McLean or Redbone, they'd do their basic track alone in the big room. Maybe Jonathan Dorn, Joel's brother who produced the record, recorded Tuba with Leon on the basic tracks. I don't recall. Of course, Leon was seen as an eccentric character. I couldn't tell whether it was a put-on, but apparently he was really that character. His guitar style was unique, I couldn't get a grasp on where it came from at that time. Not quite ragtime or Blind Blake or Chet Atkins, But some netherworld between those styles."
                                      Josh Alan Friedman
Leon at Regent Sound
Leon at Regent Sound
Brian Bauer
Brian Bauer
"I played clarinet, c-melody sax and bass sax with Leon once or twice a year from 1973 until one of his last concerts before he became unable to perform. I miss him greatly. We both had a "punnish" sense of humor together and I always enjoyed performing with him. I am the clarinetist on the 1973 Buffalo youtube video. This was his first big venue and it was at the University of Buffalo in a large circus tent. Also present was Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur. U.B., my alma mater, used to hire me to back up various singers with my clarinet. They introduced me to Leon backstage and he told me he never played with accompaniment and did not want a horn player. I said, "Mr. Redbone, why don't you just play anything and see how you like my playing." We played a song and he liked it, so we went on stage together. I didn't know many of his songs, but they were simple to accompany. You had to listen carefully, as Leon would add or skip a bar or beat. He improved on this over the years. Later in '73, we played at Avery Fischer Hall in NY as opening act for the late John Prine. We were congratulated afterwards by Bette Midler and the legendary John Hammond Sr. who was interested in my playing of the older style Albert Clarinet, which all the early jazzmen played. That was one of my greatest memories. Leon and I continued to play at colleges and a local venue, The Tralfamadore Cafe once or twice a year. He had a "cult" following in Buffalo and I used to kid him that in a thousand years, he would become a major religious figure. I would have loved to go on the road with Leon, but the life of a traveling musician is quite insecure and I chose employment in chemistry/metals and later in research. Leon's success is due to his wife, Beryl Handler, who in 1973, was on the university activities board. She spotted his potential and eventually fell in love with him. Beryl was always nice and treated me fairly. Hope this commentary is of some help in filling in his early years. Thanks for your website."
                                       Brian Bauer
Leon and Brian Bauer
Leon and Brian Bauer
Scott Black
Scott Black
Scott Black 2
L-R Jonathan Dorn, Scott Black, Eddy Davis, Leon, Bobby Gordon
"I have been asked countless times to put on paper my recollections about the years I spent on the road with Leon Redbone. My logic has been..he's gone, what good would it do? Back when his first album came out, my brother played it for me as I never heard of him before. I didn't watch TV, so was not aware of the cult following that was quickly building due to the Saturday Night Live appearances. As I looked at the musicians on the recording, I realized that I knew almost all of them. This was late 1977 and old pal Vince Giordano gave me his phone number saying he is always looking for musicians who could work with him. He had adopted some of Jimmie Rodgers habits of dropping a beat and his chords were kind of suspect, but it wasn't anything I couldn't follow. In short his playing was a combination of Blind Blake's guitar playing and Jelly Roll Morton's vocals. There were other influences as well, to be sure but this was at the basic level. We used to call each other at least a couple of times a week until I started touring with him in the fall of 1982. I was supposed to have made my debut with him in NYC in 1980, but that was cancelled due to John Lennon being shot and the club didn't think it was a great idea, so they postponed it. At the time I was living in Atlantic City and working my ass off usually playing two casinos a day and making a good deal of money. All of the casinos wanted a Dixieland band but there were very few guys who really knew the style and those who did were usually in the house orchestras doing shows. When I did join him in 1982, his wife who ran everything paid me $125.00 a day. Most venues did two shows a night but the pay was still the same. Keep in mind that he was getting $10,000 for one show and another $5,000 for a second show. He liked to stay at a motel chain called Knights Inn back then that cost a whopping $18.00 a night and you only had a room to yourself every three days because his wife refused to pay for an extra room! Shag rugs and a 20lb crushed velvet bedspread. A couple times a year we would go to Houston and play at a club that had been a bank at the turn of the century called Rockefeller's. It was a two story affair with the second story arranged so the stage could be seen from all seats. The lights were blazing and you couldn't really see anything beyond the stage. After one rather rowdy number the second the crowd became quiet for an instant, from the top floor came a female voice that yelled out, "LEON! I WANT YOUR BODY!" He looked up to the lights and said, "Why? Don't you have one?" Surreal but funny. Another funny show was at an Opera House built in the 1880's in a small town in Vermont. He would usually go on stage first and do perhaps one or two songs by himself then call on us to join him. Well, he's up there by himself playing "Lazy Bones" when a bat started buzzing him. When he performed most of the time his eyes were closed behind the sunglasses so he didn't see it. The crowd was laughing and he had no idea why. We joined him and the bat was still flying around us for almost the entire show. It was funny when he did his shadow puppet routine and you could see the bat in there too. Didn't really faze him either. The best shows with him happened when either Bobby Gordon or Ken Peplowski were there on clarinet. Bobby Gordon played shear poetry whose phrasing I can't begin to describe. Ken was the total opposite but could fire us and the crowd up at will. There were quite a few who did the job well, but none who could take it to another level. One llast funny memory. One writer who reviewed a show mentioned that Redbone has a voice like a Bassett Hound being dropped down an elevator shaft. That killed me! But then so did his response he gave on a radio show we did together when the host asked him what did he want to be when he was a child? His response was...a cow. When people ask me what it was like to work with Leon I generally tell them it was like the film "Groundhog Day" without the happy ending. It was sad to hear he passed away, but at least he finally escaped being stuck with someone truly disliked. RIP."
                                                                                                       Scott Black
                                                                                                                                                                            
Shadric Smith
Shadric Smith
"In 1986 Leon released an album called Red To Blue, coproduced with Beryl Handler and featuring some great session players. My song Diamonds Don't Mean A Thing was chosen as one of the cuts, and I was thrilled. I had written the song in 1977 and recorded it for a small mid-western label in 1978, but due to the pitfalls of the music business it had never been released. Ever since she first heard it, a friend named Denise Wiewel had been telling me it would be a perfect vehicle for Leon Redbone. Then in 1984 on one of his mid-western tours Leon played at the Maintenance Shop on the Iowa State campus in Ames, Iowa. Denise and husband Frank went to the gig and when Leon came off the stage Denise handed him a cassette of the song and gave a short pitch. We heard nothing for almost a year, then one day in 1985 Leon called and said they had recorded the song and wanted to use it on the album. When I finally received a copy in 1986 I was amazed to see that it was the first song on the record and the cover art even reflected the mood of my song. Leon nailed it, of course, and had some fine help from Vince Giordano on upright bass, Giampaolo Biagi on drums, Mac Rebennack( Dr. John ) on piano, Steve Fishell on pedal steel, Eric Weissberg on pedal steel and a Joe Renzetti string arrangement. The credits also list three violinists: Richard Hendrickson, Alvin E. Rogers and Richard Maximoff. Leon's version has been played around the world and has led to several more covers of the tune by the talented Jever Mountain Boys in 1994 and Billy Bratcher in 2011. Thank you Leon and Beryl."
                                       Shadric Smith
John Gill
John Gill
My Years with Leon Redbone. John Gill December 2020
"I was born in new York City in 1951. By the time I was about 15 years old I was an aspiring musician. I started on drums in 1963 and added plectrum banjo by around 1965. I involved myself in the traditional jazz community as much as a 15 year old could and by 1968 I started playing jobs with the older established traditional jazz and dixieland musicians. In 1977 I was offered the banjo chair with the Turk Murphy Jazz Band and moved to San Francisco to play full time. In 1978 I got a call from a musician friend of mine, Eddy Davis, who was in town playing dates with someone named Leon Redbone and I was invited to come and hear the group and possibly sit in. At that time Leon was touring with Tom Waits. It was a great show and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Leon was funny, good with the crowd and sang very well. His guitar playing was very interesting, it was sort of his take on thumb picking plus one or two fingers and all done in a rugged ragtime style. He also had his guitar tuned down to Bb. Leon was always Leon. He dressed in a somewhat vintage style, always wore a hat and sunglasses, and frequently carried a book or two. He had a deep lazy voice that spoke in a somewhat relaxed southern accent and his fans loved him. They were affectionately called "Boneheads". He was a big Jelly Roll Morton fan and enjoyed the singing of a wide variety of singers like Johnny Marvin, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Rodgers and even Elvis Presley. His favorite though was Emmett Miller. He liked several guitarists, Blind Boy Fuller, Eddie Lang and Blind Blake come to mind. He also liked the sound of a cornet and while he didn't play one he enjoyed the playing of Nick LaRocca, Freddie Keppard and King Oliver. He played very good harmonica but played it very rarely during my time. He could play it tenderly or give out with a rousing march and I was treated to many impromptu harmonica concerts while touring around the country. He also loved classical music and opera. He was smart and well read and pretty opinionated in a quiet sort of way. Even though he was only two years older than me he seemed much older. He would come out to California once or twice a year and he would always call and invite me to the show and encourage me to sit in. Usually on bass saxophone or banjo. So I slowly got to know him and his wife Beryl and we got along pretty well. Around 1985 Beryl asked me if I would be interested in joining the group full time and I accepted. It was considerably more money than I was earning as a member of the Turk Murphy Jazz Band but I was a full time musician so I felt that I was making the right choice. So I moved back to New York and went to work for Leon and Beryl. My duties being bass saxophone, banjo, snare drum and occasional clarinet. I was also made the un-official music director and helped with arrangements and finding new/vintage material. Leon had become more interested in country/western music and I got to be involved in the making of the Leon country album "No Regrets". We recorded in Nashville with some excellent studio musicians. The other album I did was "Christmas Island" which we recorded in New York. I also got to help create some comedy material with Leon where I would play the empty headed fool in the style of Stan Laurel to Leon's stern boss/master of ceremonies persona. That was a lot of fun. The band was always good but for me the high points came when we were graced with the beautifully sentimental clarinet of the great Bobby Gordon. His clarinet was the perfect foil to Leon's voice. Their performances of old tunes like "Melancholy Baby" and "Think of Me Thinking of You" were beautiful to hear. I continued to work with Leon on and off into the mid 1990's and then one day I got an ominous call from Beryl who asked me, "what did you do? Leon is furious." and hung up. To this day I have no idea what it is I did, but it must have been bad because I never heard from either of them again. It was sad when Leon passed away but I have a lot of good memories and I'll continue to hang on to them. He was for sure one of a kind".
                                                                                            John Gill
Leon and Denny Osburn
Leon and Denny Osburn
"When Leon called me, I was living in a south suburb, Cleveland, MO. We played Kansas City together then St. Louis. Those gigs were with Arnie Kinsella and Cindy Cashdollar. Then I came home and didn't expect to hear from him again. Then about a month later he called and asked if I wanted to go play in Florida over the New Years holidays. So he flew me down there and I was picked up at the airport. It was just me and Cindy in Florida, as Arnie was playing for Prairie Home Companion and needed to get back to work. I do remember Jake West was Leon's road manager and driver. Jake was a hefty guy, about 450 lbs, and Jake loved Jaegermeister. Leon doesn't fly but drives everywhere. We were supposed to cross the state of Florida for a show and Jake was up so late the night before he was falling asleep at the wheel, so Leon made him pull over and took over the driving. I think it was Lauderdale and we saw Dion backstage. I didn't meet him but Leon talked to him. The hardest part of my Leon Redbone gig was INTERRUPTING him in the middle of a song. It was part of the schtick or the joke but I just had trouble cutting off Leon Redbone in the middle of singing a verse. Leon was always nice to me. Interestingly, we were back stage just talking about things like his cats and he said "This is my last year to tour. After that I'm going home to my pets and relax." I felt a little honored to be part of his "farewell tour band" initially, but I kept seeing him appear on shows and hearing his new records and seeing that he had never retired at all. He ended up working another 25+ years!"
Click on this link for a phone call from Leon to Denny.
https://soundcloud.com/denny-osburn/leon-redbone-rip

                                                 
Denny Osburn
Cindy Cashdollar
Cindy Cashdollar
Remembering Leon      Cindy Cashdollar  January 2021
"I was a fan of Leon's and living in my hometown of Woodstock, NY in the late '80's when I heard that he "might" be looking for a Dobra player. Jump! A few phone calls led me to Leon's great music director and multi-instrumentalist sideman John Gill, with instructions to come to their sound check and "play a little" before their show at The Turning Point in West Nyack, NY. What a great band. In addition to John, there was Scott Black on trumpet and Big Johnny Thomassie on drums. After sound check, Leon invited me to play the show, and that same evening extended into five years of touring and recording with him. Leon certainly had his idiosyncrasies, but no more so than most of the artists I've worked with at this point in my career. He admired, had reverence for and immersed himself in a bygone era that, in my opinion, simply made more sense to him. People often ask "Did he always act like that?" and "Did he dress the same off stage?" and the answer is pretty much yes. He still wore suits on days off (white or seersucker in the summer), but not the tie. Whenever I was a guest in his home, I never saw him in a pair of jeans, but more casual than a suit. He just took pride in dressing well. While in Europe I recall him watching people on the streets, saying "You can always tell the American tourists and that damn "Fanny Pack" is the degradation of men's civilized fashion". I laughed so hard, it was true and although I know they're practical, I've never looked at a fanny pack the same way again. He had a great sense of humor and made me laugh often and loud, especially his observations of people. He LOVED food and was a great cook, I still make roasted red peppers from his recipe. He was also smart about food. The "deli trays" in our dressing rooms every night consisted of the same 4 things: Pita bread, pepperoni, swiss cheese and mustard. After 3 years of it I finally asked him why it never changed and he said "Because it's unlikely that we'll get food poisoning from any of it". Made sense, although at the time I wasn't a true believer until I got a severe case of food poisoning from some bad late-night backstage food (we didn't have our usual deli tray) when we were touring France. I was very ill the next morning, a doctor was called to the hotel, a prescription was delivered, but as the hours wore on I was too sick to keep the medicine down. We had to drive on to the next town for a show that night and since Leon was a big proponent of "the show must go on", there was no way I could take the night off. Another doctor was summoned when we arrived and gave me a shot that he promised would "make me a little drowsy but you'll make it through the show without getting sick" and he was right, although I don't remember anything about the show, still have no idea what was in the injection or how I played. Just as well. I learned a lot musically from Leon, and through him I discovered artists like Emmett Miller and Lonnie Johnson. I've kept the cassette that Leon made for me of Lonnie Johnson tunes, complete with his impeccable handwritten song titles and "doodling" - he was a great artist, evident on some of his album covers. He was obsessed with the mysterious and elusive Emmett Miller (a Georgia-born minstrel show performer and writer of, amongst others, "Lovesick Blues") and spent countless years trying to track down any of his remaining relatives and information, which I think he ended up being pretty successful with. If we were touring down south, sometimes Scott Black and myself would be recruited to accompany Leon to the public library and join in on the research. Or travel along a route that Emmett may have followed while touring. He taught me to appreciate playing a simple melody, the beauty in simplicity, that sometimes it was all that a song needed. In my five years with him he only admonished my playing once. He never missed anything. I can't remember the song, but the conversation after the show was: Leon:"Ms Cashdollar! What were you doing on the second chorus of__________?" Me: "I added a 6th note to the IV chord". Him: "Why on earth would you do that?" Me: "I just thought it'd make it more interesting". Him: "Well let's not have that again. It's interesting enough". He was a great guitar player and I wish he was more recognized for that. All in all, a very one of a kind but brilliant man, a renaissance man, not the easiest to work for but not the hardest either. He certainly introduced a lot of people to music that was historically right in their own backyard, but probably never would've paid any attention to it if not for him. It's a crime that anyone has to be struck by Alzheimer's, but when I heard that he was yet another victim, my heart sunk. I'm glad he got to accomplish and experience all that he did and was happy to have been a part of it. RIP Leon (and may there be no fanny packs where you are).
                                                                    Cindy Cashdollar     www.cindycashdollar.com
Phelyx Hopkins
Leon and Phelyx Hopkins
Phelyx Hopkins Poster
Phelyx Hopkins Poster
"Backstage, before our show (I believe this was my fifth appearance opening for him), I popped into Leon's dressing room with the gift of a bottle of Irish Whiskey and he insisted that we share a bit right then. Within the very moment that he spent in getting us a couple of drinking glasses I remember thinking to myself that having a whiskey with Leon Redbone should have always been on my bucket list and it was both mentally added and checked-off as Leon raised his glass to mine, locked eyes with me through his tinted spectacles, and said, Chin Chin! I managed to earn the distinction of "Approved Support Act" for Leon's concerts. The first concert was arranged by a local-to-me venue, a market wherein I have achieved some form of notoriety. Honestly, I believe that Beryl had simply seen my name in emails enough times that some trust had been established and it was no longer necessary to get more than one person to sign off on my appearances before the magic Redbone was about to deliver. I remember some discussion about joining a tour, but that idea simply came too late. One memorable concert (May 6, 2010) was at the prestigious venue in Aspen called, Belly Up! There were two posters created by an artist called Scrojo for this event, one of which has become a rather special one and you can even still buy an archival copy here:
www.dking-gallery.com/store/SCRG_Redbone_1005.html . The other (much larger) poster created, by the same artist for that event, of which only one print was made, was given to me by the venue and I did have Leon sign it for me. This Colorado Mountain venue had dressing rooms that came standard with oxygen tanks for the high potential of altitude sickness. It was a chilly night but the crowd was truly enrapt. I performed my set and Leon took the intimate stage with only a piano accompaniment. That was plenty to deliver an experience that would have been a ticket-buyer-bargain at thrice the price. At the show's conclusion, I saw two folks trying to sneak into the green room. I wasn't the only witness and they were quickly apprehended, but Leon poked his head out and insisted that he sign the acoustic guitar they somehow smuggled in. I think they would have been just a bit more satisfied had they managed to get away with something like a pair of sneaky burglars, but Leon did generously make their caper pay off. I know that Leon's tech rider called for a single table lamp for stage lighting. I was never able to read that rider, but that's how it was and I have to say that I learned a great deal from the overall psychological design of that. Avoiding any potentially boring details here, let me also state that I have since always had a table lamp on my stages out of gratitude for those few experiences and the lessons I sussed out of what a lot of the techs regarded as eccentric nonsense. He never did or said anything that he intended to be received like it was from a prophet or sage, he was just there with his wisdom and experience, take it or leave it. A bright person would analyze just a bit and take home a real treasure. As another aside, I am fairly skilled with design and prop-making so I created a few "telegrams" for Leon to use during those warm, artful and iconic "bits" in his shows wherein he would share what he was reading from a "telegram" he had just received before the show. I never actually shared those props with him because it was too easy to imagine hearing him dismissingly say, what would I need these for, Professor? Another memorable backstage interaction (Friday, April 15th, 2011) was between Leon and the talent-booker for the venue, David. David confidently stated that he was going to "bring a stack of posters upstairs and be right back". Well, this triggered Mr. Redbone's propensities to insist on the proper use of our language and, well...Leon let him have it. I was treated to witnessing an interaction between Mr. Redbone and someone who was all-too-used to cock-strutting. "Bring was a word improperly employed and cock-of-the-walk was being reduced to apologetic promises to treat a language with more thoughtful respect. I hadn't needed more reason to continue polishing the pedestal under whom I had placed Master Redbone, but that satisfying snicker sure cinched it". "Chin Chin, my friends! Chin Chin".
                                                                                     Phelyx Hopkins
Leon and Tom Roberts
Leon and Tom Roberts
"One of the frequent stops of the east coast was The Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, which for a while was my home town and was the home of my murderous 2nd ex-wife but more on that in another installment and what Leon did afterwards. It was relatively close to New Hope where the Redbone family lived, so the entire family came down to see the show, enjoy the sights and probably feast on crabs. It was our typical show and afterwards in the dressing room everyone was visiting and Leon's youngest daughter Ashley said: "Dad. I have a suggestion".
Leon: "What's that Ashley bear?"
Ashley: "Why don't you learn the words to some of the songs you were singing?"
Leon: "Ashley bear I can't do that! That's the act?"
Check out the following link;
Leon Redbone: A Remembrance and Appreciation-Tom Roberts
https://www.tomrobertspiano.com/news/2019/7/9/leon-redbone-a-remembrance-and-appreciation?fbclid=lwAR1iqbj6zNr1E1FkCEsarSbsY_sCsdos6286slephfwB70WaA-nK_mB4XU
                               
David Barrett Now
David Barrett
David Barrett Then
David Barrett
MEETING LEON REDBONE
"I first met Leon Redbone in 1968. I was in High School and I was 16 years old at the time. I grew up in Scarborough, which is a suburb in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I had been talking to a girl in class one day and we had started to talk about Folk Music and Coffee Houses and I had mentioned how I would like to maybe try performing in this field of endeavour one day. She told me about an underground Coffee House that was downtown in the bottom of a church every Wednesday night. She had been there many times, so we went down there together so I could check it out. It was in the bottom of the Bloor United Church and it cost $1.00 to get in. The coffee house was called "Fat Albert's". As we came down the stairs, she said she wanted to introduce me to this person who was standing there with a coffee in one hand and a small cigar in the other..She explained to me quietly that he was a little eccentric but was a very good performer. He wore a woolen Tam on his head, Dark Sunglasses, a dark vest and white shirt and he sported a bushy moustache. She said, "Dave, I want to introduce you to Leon Redbone". I remember thinking to myself, what a cool name. Leon held out his hand and said "Howdie do" in a bit of a mumble. I was told he usually went on at the end of the night, so I waited until he went on, I was very intrigued. When he got on stage he made a small production of dusting off the seat of his chair with a bandana, adjusted the mike to his liking and said, "This is in the Key of C" and proceeded to play a Jimmie Rogers tune, "Waiting For A Train" I was hooked, I knew I had to hear more. He played two other songs, one being "The Piano Roll Blues, and Don't You Leave Here" All I can say was, it was Magic! After that I would go down there every Wednesday and perform myself and most times Leon would be there, drinking his coffee and smoking his cigar. Leon was always quiet but would engage in conversation quite freely about numerous subjects, but mostly music. Leon would go on binges and play nothing but Jimmie Rogers and then nothing but Blind Gary Davis, Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller. He also played Big Bill Broonzy and Woody Guthrie. He also would play some of the old standards from the 20's and 30's, also some Ragtime but not much. Many times we'd sit in the tuneup room and Leon would show me different ways of playing chords to get a much greater effect in a song. Leon was also a very good Blues Harp player, Graphic Artist and Photographer. He used to do a few gigs with another fellow, his name was Ed Brown (aka: Bo Basiac). They played a lot of Leadbelly songs and other Blues as well. They would perform at different Coffee Houses around town, The Whistle Stop, Fiddlers Green and Grumbles to name a few. I found out about this time that Leon had gone by some other names. He was known as Sonny at the pool hall where he shot pool, he was an excellent pool player. He tried to hustle me a couple of times but I wouldn't bite. Then he was known as Mr. Bone, then Leon and eventually Leon Redbone. Rumours would travel around about Leon, most of which I didn't care about but it was hard not to hear about them. One was that he was Bob Dylan's brother, largely due to the fact that when Dylan had his motorcycle accident Leon disappeared and wasn't seen again until Dylan was seen somewhere. It was then that Leon reappeared back in Toronto again without a word of where he'd been. Another one was he was related to Howard Hughes. He would sit in the Coffee House and when he knew people were watching he would pull out an old photograph of Howard Hughes and say to himself that he had to go visit Uncle Howie. Then he wouldn't be seen again for some time. Leon's performances were always a treat, his playing was always impeccable and his timing was dead on. One night he was the featured performer and when he went on stage he brought two chairs, which was unusual since he always played solo. He made a big production of dusting off the chairs and adjusting the mikes just right. Then he quietly sat down and pulled a bandana out of his pocket and carefully spread it out on the chair and gently pulled a tomato out of his pocket and miked it and said, "Are you ready?" and proceeded to play. Everyone was chuckling and then he asked the tomato to "Take It!!" all to uproarious laughter. It was a wonderful night indeed!!"
                                                                                          David Barrett
 
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