Leon Redbone inside the Campus Theater at Stockton College following his Nov. 20, 2011 performance. (Photo by Jeff Schwachter)
Exactly one week after his voice could be heard singing the 1921 song “The Sheik of Araby” over the music of Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks during the closing credits of the Sunday, Nov. 13 episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Leon Redbone made an appearance just outside Atlantic City, the town where the HBO drama series is set.
Performing a special matinee show (2pm) at Stockton College’s brand-new Campus Theater, Redbone, who was only the second act to play the intimate venue, performed seated at center stage — with his trademark dark shades, fedora, and vintage acoustic guitar — accompanied by stride pianist Paul Asaro on stage left.
Playing about 15 songs to a capacity crowd, which included Stockton president Herman Saatkamp and his wife Dorothy, along with other Stockton faculty, Redbone stuck to songs from the period he is most comfortable with — the pop, blues and jazz of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
READ: Interview with Leon Redbone prior to Stockton College concert
His gravelly baritone voice a little croakier and more ragged than before, Redbone pleased the crowd with several numbers that he has recorded over the span of his long music career, including several humorous bits between songs.
Closing the show with an encore of “Shine on Harvest Moon,” Redbone also played “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Polly Wolly Doodle,” “Sweet Mama (Papa’s Getting Mad),” “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “Lovesick Blues” as well as tunes penned by Irving Berlin, Wilton Crawley and James P. Johnson.
Redbone was kind of enough to allow for a few attendees to meet him inside the theater following the show, where he signed autographs, shook hands and posed for photos for a good 20 minutes.
Redbone remarked that he has had the inclination to record a new album — it’s been a while — and that he may just follow that train of thought sometime soon.
Earlier this year, he laid down his vocal track for “The Sheik of Araby” in a Brooklyn studio. The song is featured on the Boardwalk Empire Vol. 1 soundtrack. His earlier recording of that tune appears on Redbone’s second album, Double Time, from 1977.
Read all about Leon Redbone’s involvement with the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack here.