Bob Schieffer, honky tonk star, sings third verse of “Friends in Low Places” at D.C. benefit

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CBS Anchor Bob Schieffer emceed the So Others Might Eat 40th Anniversary Gala dinner Friday night in Washington, D.C. The benefit dinner for the soup kitchen and homeless assistance organization was pretty standard Washington dinner fare until Schieffer gave guests a twist on the traditional program by taking the stage as the front man for local band Honky Tonk Confidential.

Donning a black cowboy hat and jeans, the Texas native newsman performed a set with guest prodigy fiddler Ruby Jane Smith, 15, whom he met at age 11 when the CBS Evening News did a feature on her. Smith plays 10 instruments and started playing fiddle at 2. Schieffer’s band’s set included such country favorites as David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” and Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.”

Coe’s hit, perhaps better known as “The Perfect Country and Western Song” got a rewrite for D.C. politics, as Schieffer sang the ballad of a family-values politician who ran off with a young page. Schieffer also indulged in the famous third verse of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”— a bluer verse than the first two, added to Brooks’ live rendition of the song—and had a good handful of dinner attendees dancing in front of the stage.

Schieffer and Honky Tonk Confidential have been covered by the New York Times and have played the Grand Ole Opry. Schieffer wrote the lyrics to four of songs on the band’s most recent album, “Roadkill Stew and Other News.”

Mary Katharine Ham