Leon Redbone.

This week I typed up a review of the fine Temple University Press publication Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City; a few vagrant reflections on my recent visit to the Museum of the American Revolution; and an anticipation of the upcoming baseball season.

I leave you with Leon Redbone‘s 1975 performance of Irving Berlin’s 1938 song “My Walking Stick.” A few years ago Redbone retired from recording and performing due to health reasons, but until then he was among the most popular performers of the songs of early 20th-century music, stretching back to Blind Blake. Redbone cultivated an air of mystery. According to his Wikipedia entry, he may have been born in Cyprus under the unlikely name Dickran Gobalian, but it’s more than possible that he was a Philadelphia boy:

According to a Toronto Star report in the 1980s, he was once known as Dickran Gobalian, and he came to Canada from Cyprus in the mid-1960s and changed his name via the Ontario Change of Name Act. However, an article about producer John H. Hammond in a 1973 issue of the Canadian jazz magazine Coda states that he was a native of Philadelphia who moved to Toronto: “Sitting next to Hammond was a young white musician named Leon Redbone from Philadelphia, but currently residing in Toronto.”

Wherever he’s from, he’s missed, by me anyway. “My Walking Stick” appears on his first album, On the Track. See you at Cafe Katja this afternoon.