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I’ve been playing music for a long time now. Not conventional music, either. My band is eclectic and has almost zero commercial potential. Still, we have managed to sell a few thousand CD’s with a modicum of effort and enjoy a small but enthusiastic following.

Our primary outlet these days is festival performances, primarily the Texas Renaissance Festival each year.

While playing these festivals one thing became obvious. Bands with unusual instrumentation enjoyed much larger audiences and sold more product than those who lacked said unusual instrumentation. I’m talking about bagpipes, hammer dulcimers, hurdy-gurdies and the occasional glass harmonica.

I actually coined a term for this.
I call it the Freak Instrument Principal.
Any band, no matter their overall actual talent, that sported a freak instrument was going to do much better than a band that did not feature a freak instrument.

You can see this in action if you pay attention. There are two bands at faire that I like a lot. Cantiga and Wyndnwire. They are beyond talented.
But check out their shows. Not a huge crowd and a small but steady trickle of CD sales.

Then check out The Rogues or Tartanic. Piles of people gathered around clapping and hooting and buying CD’s hand over fist.

Are The Rogues or Tartanic better or more talented than Wyndnwire or Cantiga? Not by a long shot. But the sheer bombardment of sound combined with men wearing dresses compels people in a way that other bands will never be able to compete with.

The Freak Instrument Principal does seem to have a counterpart in politics. This is exemplified in the upcoming election for Texas Governor. I’m talking about Kinky Friedman and his bid to get on the ballet for 2006.

Yup, it’s the Freak Candidate Principal.
Should he be governor? I honestly don’t know.
I kinda lean towards no on this.
Will he become governor? We’ll see.

He’s compelling. He’s outspoken. He’s probably crazy. The idea of Kinky being elected to public office has a “theater-of-the-absurd” appeal that just might get him to his goal, not because he’s suited for the job but because he is so ridiculously NOT suited for the job. And many people here in Texas seem to think that concept qualifies him in and of itself.

He’s not the first one of his kind.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota, Arnold Schwarteneger was elected Governor of California (even though Gary Coleman was far more freakish) and let’s not forget they guy who was the original freak candidate…

Who could have known?
The important thing is, we know now.

Vote wisely!

Texas Freak Show

5 thoughts on “Texas Freak Show

  • September 16, 2005 at 9:45 am
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    It’s no accident that they have Jesse Ventura’s campaign manager running the show.

  • September 16, 2005 at 11:58 am
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    Yea, I know he’s not traditionally qualified for the position, but frankly, when compared to other states, the Texas governership is very limited in power. Its the Texas legislature that has all the power, and ultimately the more important election.

    Am I going to vote for him for the freak potential? No.
    I’m going to vote for him because it has always been my opinion that people who choose politics as a career in a democratic society are waists, drains, and the absolute wrong people for the job.

    Its by the people, for the people. Not by the politicians, for their friends.
    Yea, I know he’s not traditionally qualified for the position, but frankly, when compared to other states, the Texas governership is very limited in power. Its the Texas legislature that has all the power, and ultimately the more important election.

    Am I going to vote for him for the freak potential? No.
    I’m going to vote for him because it has always been my opinion that people who choose politics as a career in a democratic society are waists, drains, and the absolute wrong people for the job.

    Its by the people, for the people. Not by the politicians, for their friends.

  • September 17, 2005 at 12:48 pm
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    There are two things I should say straight off. Firstly that I’m a Brit living in the UK and thus have no say in the governorship race. Secondly, I know Kinky primarily through his career as a writer and slightly more removed, as a musician.

    I think why someone like Kinky might have an appeal beyond his celebrity is because he isn’t (as far as I know) in the pocket of the political establishment from either side of the divide.

    I’ve heard Kinky come up with opinions that could be described as both liberal and conservative and unless we are ideologues, all of us express contradictory views at one time or another.

    Kinky’s appeal may lie in his “everyman” appeal. As the little guy – straight talking and not in hoc to any party – he might well bring a fresh perspective to some of the social problems that Texas faces. Given that the real power lies elsewhere perhaps his ability to make a difference may be limited but it might well galvanise an increasingly bored and cynical electorate – which can only be good for democratic politics.

  • September 19, 2005 at 11:48 pm
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    I have *loved* listening to Wyndnwire since the early 90s, back when I bought my first Wyndnwire cassette. When Mike & I first went to the Ren Fest, they were the first group I dragged him to go see, while he was talking about going to see some Fish group. 😉 We bought several of their CDs that day, and always make a point when we go to spend some time relaxing and enjoying their music. (We have several FFS CDs in our collection too, and they are Jason’s absolute favorite, hands down. Any time I hear him singing, it is something off of your CDs. Nothing else will do. That damn cat keeps coming back.)

    Tartanic not only has bagpipes, the guy with the drum is very outrageous. I don’t know where he ever finds so much energy, but I wish I knew. I could use it some days. I’m sure that is part of what draws the crowd. (Mike bought one of their CDs, and I was disappointed. It didn’t even make it onto my iPod.)

    Can you tell that I’m glad that fall is here and it is almost time for the Ren Fest? I love this time of year and I can’t wait to go!

    As for Kinky Friedman, what the heck – I would be willing to back him. His campaign fits a lot of my ideals. Unfortunately, as it has been pointed out, our governor doesn’t have a lot of power – so it doesn’t matter so much to me who wins. As long as they are not related to the Bush family – I’ve had my fill of them.

  • Pingback:The Bald Heretic » Blog Archive » Kinky Friedman? Musician - YES, Governor - NO

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