A FREEBO CONCERT is like being entertained
by a really talented family friend. At his show Oct. 25 at Little
Valley Vineyard's Bistro, Freebo learned people's names, chatted
with everyone from the stage, and jumped into table conversations.
And of course, he played and sang to great appreciation through
Freebo may be best known as a member of Bonnie Raitt's band,
in which he played bass and toured for over ten years. He plays
guitar, bass, 8-string ukulele and tuba, and has performed in
countless studio sessions for the likes of John Mayall, Crosby,
Stills and Nash, Maria Muldaur and Ringo Starr. He did not release
his first album as a singer-songwriter until 1999. Writing down
his feelings in the form of lyrics and putting them to music,
he said, finally brought to reality his dream of "complete
If his songs and talk are any indication, Freebo has three
passions: dogs, peace, and sports. His latest CD, "Dog
People," is all dog songs, with both original compositions
and covers of great dog songs, from the traditional "Old
Blue" to "Lester" by New Zealand rocker Neil
Finn. The album was inspired by Freebo's golden retriever, Garbo,
and it's clear that his dog is this man's best friend.
"Unconditional love, endless joy of the moment, and unwavering
faithfulness," are the three canine qualities that move
Freebo to poetry and song. "Dogs are in the now,"
he said, "and there is a lot to be learned from them."
The musician also has an unbridled sense of humor, as demonstrated
in two of his original tunes, "Shaggy," told from
a dog's point of view, and "My Dog Has Fleas," an
audience sing-along that got us all going.
Of course, with him going on like that about dogs, somebody
was bound to bring up our late, great mayor, Bosco. Freebo hadn't
heard of our canine celebrity, but, boy, was he interested once
the subject came up! Suzanne Van Fleet, helped along by Judy
Bettencourt, Irv Tiessen and myself, told several hilarious
stories about Bos, including the time he wandered off in search
of love and radio stations reported that "Sunol's mayor
It is part of Bosco's legend that he had his own corner of
the stage on which Freebo stood, back in the days when the place
was the Sunol Lounge. This news prompted Freebo to begin extemporizing
lyrics with help from the audience, such as, "Bosco the
dog was Mayor of Sunol, he loved to drink beer from his doggie
bowl." Yeah, we all got pretty silly, but that's the kind
of casual, personal atmosphere both Freebo and the Bistro encourage.
Several times during the evening, Freebo called our gathering
a "seminar," and engaged us all in discussion about
whatever came up. We helped one patron figure out how to handle
her too-chatty aerobics instructor, were encouraged to attend
a peace rally that weekend, and participated in a vote on which
of two ladies was sober enough to drive home.
His song, "Yogi," a tribute to Yogi Berra, attests
to Freebo's love of sports. He wrote it in 1986, the year the
L.A. Angels ended up one out from being in the World Series.
He told us he has always played and followed sports, which might
explain why, in his fifties, Freebo is still long and lean with
energy to spare. He tried to get us going about the Giants-Angels
series that week, but was informed that most of us in the room
were pretty "sports impaired." He seemed to like us
There were also several lovely songs about love and loss in
his sets, including the especially beautiful "Before This
Feeling's Gone," from his first album, "The End of
the Beginning". Sweet, sad or sassy, each number moved
and delighted the audience. As Bistro owner Sandi Bohner was
celebrating a birthday a few days after the show, Freebo played
"Happy Birthday" to her twice - once on the guitar,
and once on the tuba! He can also whistle and sing at the same
time. He's a gifted, caring and charming guy, someone you'd
really like to hang out with. We hope he comes back soon - we
can't wait to hear the song he's going to write about ol' Bosco.
You can learn more about Freebo at www.freebo.com.