For L.A.-based stringed instrument maestro David Lindley, the more obscure the stringed-instrument, the more inspiring. Employing a half-dozen guitar-like instruments (several custom-made Weissenborns, a black top Irish bouzouki with added frets, electric oud) in various open tunings, he effortless finger-picks his way into your head and heart. And his droll between-songs banter is both hilarious and informative. Having been employed by some of the world's most-beloved singer/songwriters, such as Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, to name just two of my favorites, has definitely served his stage presence and chops quite effectively.
Starting the set with an absolutely brilliant rewrite of his much-beloved cover and FM-staple "Mercury Blues" from his must-own ablum El Rayo-X while morphing lyrics from "Tuna Fish Blues" -- the obvious poisoning of our ocean fish and water -- David had our rapt attention. Two Warren Zevon tunes also cut to the bone. Moreover, his Zevon tale about his pal's gun markmensip, cockroach targets, and a bathtub shoot-up had the audience roaring. His cover of Zevon's "Mutineer" was revelatory. (See above.) And Zevon's other chesnut "Beneath the Vast Indifference of Heaven" left us breathless. Lindley's "Down in the Vatican Library" from his Big Twang (2007) album started with another hilarious story before sucking the audience in with his nimble finger-picking. "Meat Grinder Blues," a song co-written with his daughter Roseann, also began with a crazy tale about a local L.A. misanthrope before drowning us with its aural acoustic assault. A genius bouzouki-driven version of "New Minglewood Blues" closed the set. But the audience refused to let him go and David didn't disappoint with his encore -- the old English folk tune "The Cuckoo," a song he covered with his band Kaleidoscope on their third ablum Incredible! Kaleidoscope (1969). 90 minutes of majestic acoustic music and we were hungry for more.
Treat yourself and your friends and catch his next gig on this current tour. The man is a national treasure and a true musciologist.