Sporting mutton chops that would make Gandalf wince with envy, David Lindley—certified fret monster and legendary musical imp—took to the Lobero stage Saturday night, August, 26, clad in a paisley polyester shirt, blue ostrich disco shoes, and Farmer John ball cap. In other words, it was just another Lindley gig. Lindley quickly made it clear—perhaps to the multitude of pickers, grinners, and guitar gunslingers in town for this week’s impressive Acoustic Instrument Celebration —that his virtuosity still blows doors as does his big, shimmering, steel-wool slide-guitar sound. “Nasty,” he calls it.
Lindley, whose slide backup provided the sonic uranium that propelled many of Jackson Browne’s greatest hits to the top of the radio charts, drew from his established songbook but made everything feel fresh, new, and exciting. He played oud, Turkish oud, bouzouki, and a host of custom-made, mutant slack-lap guitars. There were fewer of his signature meandering asides, but no shortage of intricate inventive runs, rendered irresistibly accessible courtesy of a rolling blues delivery.
Lindley has been charming audiences with brilliantly goofy patter for decades, but Saturday night, he outdid himself with an extended barf riff on the vomiting sequence describing middle-management types lampooned in Ttki torches at twilight “throwing up in their cars.” Although Lindley typically performs solo, listeners need two brains to really hear: one for the lyrics, which are trickier and far more interesting than they initially seem, and the other for all the ridiculous fretboard magic.
Lurking behind his sly grins and outrageous asides, David Lindley’s one seriously pissed-off dude, outraged at the accelerated decline of what passes for Western civilization. Armed with his instruments and wicked sense of humor, Lindley is looking to extract vengeance on a biblical scale, providing encyclopedic graphic detail, for example, on “Mr. Snakehead,” of what caliber justice should befall the Wall Street profiteers who engineered the stock market crash that left millions dispossessed. Lindley, it turns out, is almost as accomplished a marksman as he is a musician. Good thing for the greed heads, Lindley’s weapon of choice remains the guitar, or some variant thereof.