David Lindley is a great guitarist who deserves the kind of recognition that his good friend Ry Cooder has lately garnered, and if he keeps making the kind of music that he made at the Lobero on Saturday night, it won’t be long before he gets it. As a sideman, Lindley has decorated the margins and warmed the centers of dozens of classic albums, all the way from Jackson Browne’s The Pretender to Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy. While there were rumors that Browne might show up to sit in, the fact that Lindley carried his entire set solo only lent more luster to an outstanding performance, and allowed him to spend time recalling a close friend who definitely could not make it, the recently departed, much loved, Warren Zevon.
Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan should play the Lobero more frequently, as these local legends have casually garnered national treasure status in the last few years. Their joyous mix of guitar, harmonica, and vocals was augmented by their friend Jody, a guy in a red trucker cap who played brilliant percussion with a pair of brushes on a cardboard box. Their set was a blast of rootsy blues laced with whimsical wisdom, and it went down very well with their fans.
Lindley emerged to the strains of a recorded cover version of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and, consummate musician that he is, sat down to play something in the same key. No sooner had he finished the first number than he launched into one of several comic bits, this one involving an Irish accent. And although Lindley has a puckish sense of humor, he is all business when it comes to making music. With each of his odd-looking guitars, he found another mood and groove with which to fill the space, generating robust, otherworldly counterpoint, syncopation, harmonies, and melodies for the better part of two hours. The highlights were the two Zevon numbers, which included the outrageous “Seminole Bingo,” a catchy version of the wacky and disturbing original, “Cat Food Sandwiches,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Brothers Under the Bridge,” about homeless Vietnam vets. This latter tune was about as powerful as acoustic music can get, and Lindley was careful not to tamper with its deep, sorrowful vibe.