Leon Redbone (b. 1949) is a guitarist and singer whose style focuses on genres from by-gone eras. Mainly, his repetoir consists of songs from vaudeville
, old country blues numbers, Tin Pan Alley
classics, early jazz (before there was much of a distinction between jazz and blues), ragtime
, and various folk songs.
As a musical revivalist, he dresses the part -- usually sporting a fedora, a white suit, dark sunglasses, and a mustache and soul patch. This costume-like persona and his secretiveness have led many to speculate about his true identity. Initially, many thought he was simply another of Andy Kaufman
's characters. Others suggested he may be Frank Zappa
. David Letterman
once proposed that he was Don Novello
Like fellow musician Mose Allison
, Redbone is not well-known outside certain music circles yet has a loyal cult following. Another thing the two artists have in common is a fanbase that consists of legendary songwriters Bob Dylan
and Tom Waits
. Dylan once said if he started a record lable he would immediately sign Redbone. And fellow revivalist Ramblin' Jack Elliott
also expressed being impressed when seeing him perform.
With such giants touting his talents, with his creation of a character no one knows the real orgins of, and with his mastery of interpreting early 20th century American popular music (fusing beautifully the Anthology of American Folk Music
with the Great American Songbook
), Leon Redbone is one cool mothafucka.