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The Redbone Privilege

Leon Redbone
Shank Hall
Milwaukee, WI
Sept. 23, 2008
Leon Redbone Leon Redbone Leon Redbone

Story by Mike Linneman
Photos by Joe Hargreaves

Tuesday night at Shank Hall offered strong support for a belief in reincarnation. Watching Leon Redbone perform, it didn't stretch the imagination much to envision the same performance taking place in a old west saloon, a traveling minstrel show, or a vaudeville theatre at the turn of the century. That Redbone often credits influences such as Emmett Miller or Gene Austin, as he did this night, his homage to them belies the originality that is Redbone. He is an American treasure, unique and un-imitated.

Redbone cuts a simple distinct, almost timeless image. White fedora, dark shades, sporting a goatee of a southern style which fits his laid back bemused detachment from all that is happening. The mystery of his background, and his delight in it, leave his singing and playing, along with his stewardship of long ago songs, as the centerpiece of the night.

Strolling through a variety of songs from his 15 albums such as "Think of Me Thinking of You," a rousing "Step It Up & Go," a beautiful, quiet & tender "Another Story, Another Time, Another Place," he also included one of his best-known renditions, "My Blue Heaven," which the crowd clearly appreciated. During it all, Redbone seemed as though he was sitting on your front porch playing for just a handful of friends. The musical stops and breaks were flawlessly performed, and his banter with his pianist, Paul Asaro, seemed more endearing than corny, never detracting from the wonderful piano playing.

The night's performance was truly special. Leon Redbone is a one of a kind performer who delivers a once in a lifetime experience. I don't know what anyone else was doing Tuesday night, but I had the privilege to witness genius at Shank Hall.
Leon Redbone Leon Redbone

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