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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Live Down Under
Artist - Billy Joe Shaver & Kinky Friedman

For those unaware, before Billy Joe Shaver’s death in 2020, Willie Nelson called him the greatest living songwriter.

That isn’t out of line, as Billy Joe is a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and winner of the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award.

His songs have been covered by Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Patty Loveless, and many others, and even featured in films such as the Academy Award-winning Crazy Heart.

Singer-songwriter, novelist, and satirist Kinky Friedman holds the distinction of being the only artist whose Austin City Limits performance never aired for fear that the content was too controversial!

When he ran for the office of Governor of Texas in 2006, his spiritual advisor for the campaign was Billy Joe Shaver. But that wasn’t the first time they worked together.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, two Texas legends, Billy Joe Shaver and Kinky Friedman!,” announced Jeff “Little Jewford” Shelby before the nightly coin toss to decide who in this dynamic double-bill — quadruple heart bypass contender Billy Joe or singing crime novelist Kinky — would go first on the 2002 Australian tour.

The spotlight then passed back and forth between the two, supported in Vaudevillian fashion by guitarist Jesse Taylor, Washington Ratso and, of course, Little Jewford.

Depending on how you look at it or who’s talking, the Live Down Under tour probably shouldn’t have happened or it was the best thing that could’ve happened. Either way, it was a minor miracle most would say and now a thing of myth and legend. Omnivore Recordings will release Billy Joe Shaver and Kinky Friedman’s Live Down Under as CD and Digital on October 17th, 2021.

1. Intro Coin Toss
2. Georgia On A Fast Train
3. Western Union Wire
4. Star In My Heart
5. Rapid City, South Dakota
6. Old Chunck Of Coal
7. Sold American
8. Ride Me Down Easy
9. Wild Man From Borneo
10. When The Fallen Angels Fly
11. Marilyn And Joe
12. You Asked Me To
13. Before All Hell Breaks Loose
14. Honky Tonk Heroes
15. Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed
16. Live Forever
17. You Wouldn’t Know Love (If You Fell In It)
18. Ride ’Em Jewboy
19. Old Five And Dimers Like Me
20. Keep On The Sunnyside
21. Try And Try Again
22. Outro Thanks And Goodbye!

This quite stunningly brilliant live flashback to 2002 opens with a harmonica-bedded Intro and then comes the inaugural Coin Toss (Billy Joe calls heads, and wins and so goes first, alternating thereafter) and then we are off into the gently fervent Georgia On A Fast Train, the aching storytelling of Western Union Wire and the impassioned Star In My Heart, and then we get the buoyant Rapid City, South Dakota, the foot-tapper Old Chunck Of Coal, and then comes the cowboy troubadour pairing of both Sold American and Ride Me Down Easy.

Next up is the jovial storytelling from Friedman (before and during the song) within Wild Man From Borneo and the beautiful When The Fallen Angels Fly, and then we get one of Friedman’s rare love song outings on Marilyn And Joe, the mid-tempo jaunt You Asked Me To, the vaudeville-imbibed Before All Hell Breaks Loose, and then Billy Joe recites a personal story about his mom, albeit he dedicates the track to Waylon Jennings; who had died earlier that year) Honky Tonk Heroes and the finger-snapping delights Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed (Kinky’s anti-women’s rights anthem, albeit with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

The pertinently apt Live Forever from Billy Joe is up next and is itself backed by the finger-snapping, solo acoustic excellence from Billy Joe of You Wouldn’t Know Love (If You Fell In It), then comes Kinky’s tribute to Willie Nelson on Ride ’Em Jewboy, the lush orchestrations of the poignant ballad Old Five And Dimers Like Me, the upbeat and fun Keep On The Sunnyside, the album rounding out on the Billy Joe-sung Try And Try Again (written for his recently-departed wife and son), closing on a short Outro complete with thanks and goodbyes.

The tour started when Shaver, still recovering from the loss of his mother, wife and son was lured out of mourning by the Kinkster to do their “Two for Texas” tour in 2001, which ended with Billy Joe unexpectedly suffering a heart attack at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas that August.

Angioplasty was performed but Shaver, fearing the risks, was resisting medical advice to have quadruple heart bypass surgery, taking karmic instruction from Willie (Nelson) to get out and stay active. Soon commitments to bring the tour to Australia were made.

Kinky Friedman: “The doctors wanted him to have the surgery, but he said no. And they didn’t want him going to Australia with Kinky. That it was the wrong thing to do. But Billy Joe was in a dark place; the recent family tragedies, the health concerns. Staying home with the curtains drawn and all its temptations seemed as risky as going. Willie and I both agreed, the best therapy he could have was to get out and have a good time.”

And it was.

Billy Joe performed every night like his life depended on it. And it did. And it pushed everyone to the same level of intensity. Featuring hits like Honky Tonk Heroes, You Asked Me To, Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed, Sold American and more, showcasing some of the best material from both writers’ storied careers, and delivered in a way that only these best friends and odd couple could.

Official Purchase Link