PANAMA RED PANAMA RED, American musician, Songwriter, and Chronicler of the Human Condition “There are those, guitar in hand, who still prowl the seamy outskirts of greatness. PANAMA RED is one
PANAMA RED, American musician, Songwriter, and Chronicler of the Human
“There are those, guitar in hand, who still prowl the seamy outskirts of
greatness. PANAMA RED is one of them… songs that remind you
of Townes, Billy Joe Shaver and Blaze Foley in turn.”
Dave Pilot, Outlaw Magazine
So, you ask yourself, who is this Panama Red? The answer is simple: an
original Texas Jewboy and a co-writer with Kinky Friedman, Billy Joe
Shaver and Ronny Elliott, Panama Red was a fixture in the 1970s Music Row
Outlaw movement in Nashville. His sphere of influence has grown lately to
include an annual stint on and in European stages and bars. His often
irreverent stage comments are interspersed with original, intelligent
songs which have been described as “honest’, “elegant’, and “soulful”, by
such luminaries as Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, and David Olney.
He currently lives “just far enough” outside of Nashville.
His songs have been recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joe Shaver, Kinky
Friedman, Gamble Rogers, Felix Pappalardi, Bobby Bare, Mike Auldridge, the
French band Mary-Lou and a host of others.
He has appeared as a player and singer on more than 100 albums and CDs
recorded in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, Miami , Seattle and Europe.
The Original Panama Red began life as Danny Finley, born in West Virginia
and the descendant, literal and musical, of Scots-Irish immigrants of the
early 1700s. He began his writing career in the US Army as a stringer for
Pacific Stars and Stripes. On his discharge he went to San
Francisco/Oakland where he acquired the “Panama Red” sobriquet. He
managed a coffeehouse, the Cafe I, on 10th Street in New York City. Later,
after a memorable life chapter involving the Beaux Arts Coffee House in
St. Petersburg, Florida, he was a founding member of the jazz fusion band
Bethlehem Asylum out of Coconut Grove, making two records for Ampex
Records. He relocated to Nashville in 1972 and became Billy Joe Shaver’s
guitar player and co-writer, later also filling the same functions for
Kinky and The Texas Jewboys.
He parted from the Jewboys in 1975 and began performing as The Legendary
Panama Red with his band Montezumas Revenge. From 1976 to 1979 he toured
in his 1947 Silversides GM road bus with his band and was one of the
first acts to appear at the Lone Star Cafe in New York City. He
performed at Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, the Horseshoe
Tavern in Toronto and at the Old Mill in Mill Valley, California as well
as numerous other venues all around the U.S. and Canada.
His work and song writing brought him to the attention of the
producer/bassist Felix Pappalardi (Cream, Mountain), who subsequently
became his friend, mentor and employer. After Felix’s untimely death in
1982, Panama entered into a period of solitude and he became a carpenter.
He studied computer science at Miami Dade College. While a radiography
student at Northern New Mexico College, he edited portions of a radiologic
physics textbook (Radiologic Science for Technologists, Bushong, 4th
Edition). He graduated with a GPA of 3.89 and is a member of Phi Theta
Kappa. He also studied at the University of New Mexico, majoring in
journalism. In the 1990s, after living in San Francisco and working as
an xray tech, he again started playing music and lived and played in
Nevada City, CA and Seattle, ending up in Amsterdam, Netherlands for a
couple of years. On the road again and always a little off….
Since his return to music he has made two albums (HomeGrown and Choice
Buds), and has appeared in numerous small venues in North America,
interspersed with performances as a solo artist and guitarist in Norway,
Sweden, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. He continues to write
and perform and currently lives in Rockvale, Tennessee. He continues to
tour listening rooms and is working on multiple publishing projects,
including a music memoir and a whimsical book about cats…
He is credited by etymologist Barry Popik with the first use of the
rhyming phrase “Lost in Austin” the title of one of his country swing
July 4 (Tuesday) 8:00 pm