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Leon Redbone making only Michigan appearance Oct. 15

Published 10:09am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Larry Seurynck with Leon Redbone the third time he visited Dowagiac, April 2, 2008. (Daily Star Photo/JOHN EBY)
Larry Seurynck with Leon Redbone the third time he visited Dowagiac, April 2, 2008. (Daily Star Photo/JOHN EBY)

By JOHN EBY
Niles Daily Star

Leon Redbone returns to Wood Fire Thursday, Oct. 15.

Not only will it be his fourth appearance in Dowagiac, but the Grand Old City marks his only Michigan stop on his current tour.

Redbone, a throwback to Tin Pan Alley, also performed at Wood Fire on Jan. 23 and Sept. 11, 2007; and, most recently, on April 2, 2008.

His host, Larry Seurynck, said dinner will be served about 6, with the concert following around 8. Cost for the Cajun buffet with blackened salmon and red beans and rice that Redbone requests is $55. Call 782-0007 for reservations.

Wood Fire “is so much smaller than everywhere else he plays, he just loves” the intimate space, said Seurynck, who “bugs” him to record a live album here.

“He’s so talented,” Seurynck said. “The whistling thing last time. He’s really developed talents that you don’t see others doing.”

For a timeless enigma, Redbone also proved affable and accessible during his last visit.
At 10:15 p.m. after his sold-out third appearance at Wood Fire, he was still hanging around the Pompeii Room, visiting with fans, signing photos and ticket stubs and even whipping out his own small camera to take pictures of some timeless photos he signed, such as one which suggests why David Letterman suspected Leon and Don (Father Guido Sarducci) Novello were the same person.

“I’ve read all kinds of wacky things” about himself. “I’m simply not interested. I don’t want to indulge,” Redbone told the Daily News. “I’m interested in information about substantive issues – not a dossier on an individual, as if somehow that is going to reveal anything. You can make anything up.”

He said the Daily Star could ask one question last year, but he didn’t enforce his edict while generously fielding queries for more than 15 minutes.

“It’s hard to explain exactly why you like what you like,” said the singer and guitarist who specializes in interpreting early 20th century jazz and blues standards and Tin Pan Alley classics.

Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York-centered music publishers and songwriters who dominated American popular music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“My main interest in music is operatic,” Redbone said. “It’s always about the singing. A voice can always express more than an instrument. Some may call the voice an instrument, but an instrument which happens to be a voice is quite different than an instrument which is a device. The most powerful element is you can express, using the same mechanism, which is now connected directly to a personality that has its own qualities and potential.”

For a man whose national notoriety has the durability of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” for which he was a semi-regular musical guest in the late 1970s and early ’80s, he remains elusive whether on the Internet or in person.

“I’m just not complying,” he said cryptically. “I’m not compliant because my world is different from most people’s. I belong to a mysterious clan.”

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