Kinky Friedman

Austin's own lunatic laureate, Kinky Friedman, has been a fly in the ointment for four decades, working over country and honky-tonk with satire sharp as Michael Madsen's straight razor in Reservoir Dogs. The Jewish son of a UT professor, Friedman possesses the imperturbably lighthearted manner of a confirmed wiseacre. It's in full regalia on his mock-sympathetic "Ballad of Charles Whitman," along with a well of irreverence filled with songs like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" or "Wild Man from Borneo," inspired by his time during the '60s in the Peace Corps. His reedy, easygoing baritone and poker-faced delivery imbue the music with wry charm. Commander Cody helped him get his first record deal, and Friedman enjoyed a swell of counter-culture approbation, releasing three well-regarded albums in the '70s. While he continues to tour and release live albums, his last original studio material goes back to '83. Not that this inveterate gadfly stopped being creative or fomenting trouble. He's penned more than two dozen books, many of them mysteries starring his fictionalized alter-ego detective. He's also run for governor. A real Texas treasure, nothing could jeopardize his standing here, unless we discovered he was secretly French.