BEAVER CREEK - Leon Redbone's Vaudevillesque look - a fedora, dark sunglasses, an ever-present mustache, a black string tie and a jacket - is so well known, a Far Side cartoon satirized his iconic get up. It's a fitting disguise for a man that's so reluctant to discuss his past that, at one time, there were rumors that "Leon Redbone" was in fact an alternate identity for another performer, perhaps Andy Kaufman or Frank Zappa.
"I'm just an entertainer, and I use music as a medium for entertaining," said Redbone, who, along with his trademark attire, has a deep, rumbly voice that's unmistakable. "But I'm not really an entertainer either, because to be an entertainer it implies you have a great desire to want to entertain."
He's notorious for sometimes fudging the facts, and other times flat-out lying to reporters who quiz him.
Remember, this is the guy who also said: "To take myself too seriously is the gentle kiss of death."
In a series primarily known for young, up and coming musicians, one of the highlights of the Vilar Performing Art Center's Underground Sound comes this Sunday when Redbone takes the stage.
"I think what our audience will be most impressed by is his delivery, in addition to his clear mastery of acoustic guitar," said Kris Sabel, the executive director of the Vilar Center. "This guy is a performer in every sense of the word, and with the intimate experience that the Underground Sound Series affords, I think our audience members are in for a pleasant surprise."
'Great level of talent'
Never heard of Leon Redbone? Then look him up on YouTube. This is one vocalist, lyricist and acoustic guitarist who seems straight out of a bygone era.
But something about Redbone's quirky formula must be working. He's fashioned a 30-plus year career that's included more than 15 albums. Redbone began his career with a focus on honoring his favorite songs of the past and not much has changed since. He blends early jazz tunes with blues, ragtime and comedy. His career first gained momentum in the early '70s when Bob Dylan sought him out at the Mariposa Folk Festival. In a Rolling Stone interview, Dylan mentioned that if he ever started a label, Redbone would be the first artist he wanted to record. A year later, the magazine did a feature on Redbone. Most folks were introduced to the man during his network debut on Saturday Night Live in 1976, where he showcased his indelible version of "Walkin' Stick." More recently he appeared as a wise, animated snowman opposite Will Ferrel in the comedy "Elf."
Following Leon Redbone's performance Sunday will be Gregory Alan Isakov, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, The Motet Plays Parliament-Funkadelic and finally, Jaimee Paul. With each Sunday show in the series, fans can stop by The Dusty Boot and enjoy two tickets to the show and a three-course meal for two for $55 (food deal also available to pass holders for just $30).
"With the fall season underway, our locals are enjoying the perks of special deals created just for them all around this valley," Sabel said. "We aim to do the same, with the same great level of talent on our intimate stage, at a great deal - and an even greater deal when you factor in our partner The Dusty Boot. It's a great time to come to Beaver Creek and experience a show."