Leo Neufeld and Daddy Long Loin make for an unusual duo. Neufeld is perhaps Albuquerque's best-known portrait painter, a soft-spoken neo-realist with an enviable knack for capturing the intellect, personality and emotions of his subjects. As an artist, he strives to do more than merely replicate the outward appearance of the diverse people he paints. You don't look at one of Neufeld's paintings; you look into it.
No one could accuse Daddy (whose actual name is Kevin Kinane) of being soft-spoken. He's not exactly the retiring type. Frequently dressed in a bright lime green zoot suit, he once sported a giant black faux fro as part of his stage persona.
This “one-man big band” always puts on a spectacular show, spewing out his funky tunes with a range of cartoonish voices supplemented with a Chapman Stick, harmonica, keyboard, drum set, ukulele and other random instruments, many of which he plays simultaneously. His brilliant CD Top Choice Loin Cuts was my favorite local CD of 2006, a weird, funny collection of songs that aren't easily defined. They remind me a bit of Frank Zappa's funny songs but with a hip-hop vibe and the kind of lefty politics Zappa abhorred.
Neufeld met Daddy at one of Steve White's infamous Yardfest backyard folk festivals. Neufeld was painting a quicky portrait when Daddy began supplying improvised music.
“I was painting one person per hour,” Neufeld says. “Just these quick oil studies. This good-looking Hispanic guy was sitting for me. There was no talking. It was pretty intense. People knew something was up. They started gathering around. Then Daddy started playing some far-out Eastern sort of thing. Immediately, there was a synergy between us.”
A few months later, Neufeld was doing a painting demo at the Harwood Art Center while the Talking Heads played on a stereo in the background. Daddy showed up with some of his friends and was impressed with the bond between painting and music.
“I could see how it develops in sections,” says Daddy. “He'd sketch the person real quick, then start to fill in things.”
This gave him the idea of providing an improvised soundtrack for Neufeld's creativity that would enhance each stage of a painting's evolution. Approaching the painter after the demo, Daddy suggested they put a show together. A short while later, they booked an event at the Blue Dragon.
Several other people are now involved, too, including musicians Eric McEuen, Seth Hoffman and Norm Everett (one of the Blue Dragon's owners), and poet Don McIver. Daddy will play a couple of his songs to get things moving, then Neufeld will begin painting model Asantewaa Mawusi in 20-minute installments accompanied by live music from Daddy and company. At some point, Neufeld will take questions from the audience. Later in the evening, McIver will recite poems over live music.
“It's going to be an improv thing,” Daddy says, “with a continuous flow of entertainment throughout the evening.”
You can take part in this experiment by heading over to the Blue Dragon this Tuesday. It's really the ideal environment for this sort of multimedia collaboration. In addition to the entertainment, the atmosphere at the coffee house is pleasantly low-rent, and the food is always excellent.