Twango-bango with Mr. Dave and the Wally Llama
Mere words do little to help describe the meandering and wonderfully convoluted musical path of multi-instrumentalist David Lindley – much less his fantastically colorful life (and those eye-poppingly garish shirts he wears on stage).
But with a career that’s embraced the big time – years with Jackson Browne – as well as probing the darkest corners of the African music scene to find new approaches to ancient music, Lindley’s a performing force to be reckoned with.
Lindley and longtime musical partner Wally Ingram return to Colorado to host a wild evening of music at State Bridge Lodge tonight, playing material from their third collaboration of worldly tunes, Twango Bango III.
The duo, colorfully described as “the Beavis and Butthead of World Music” or, conversely, “Mr. Dave Meets the Wally Llama,” have been gleefully blending musical traditions from around the world for a half decade.
Lindley’s own career goes back considerably further and has featured more twists and turns than a turn-of-the-century Russian novel. And while Lindley’s had only a couple of brushes with the kind of mainstream success your mother would recognize (his is the falsetto voice heard on Jackson Browne’s “The Load-Out/Stay”, from Browne’s 1977 album “Running on Empty”), but with a list of performance credits numbering in the hundreds and more than a dozen albums of his own, Lindley’s never found a shortage of work. He’s also mastered instruments ranging from the bouzouki to the Turkish saz, bringing a very worldly sound to the table.
Raised in Southern California, Lindley discovered the banjo as a teen-ager and quickly excelled at the instrument, winning the Topanga Canyon Banjo and Fiddle Contest five times. His first foray into the professional music world was with L.A.’s late ’60s world music-influenced act the Kaleidoscope, releasing four albums between 1967 and 1970.
Lindley’s reputation as a skilled and amazingly inventive master of virtually every stringed instrument helped land him a job with Browne in 1971, and that connection has lasted three decades. His affiliation with one of the 1970s’ biggest performers also allowed him to branch out to do session work with various parties in the music scene, including work with Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Rod Stewart, as well as guest spots on albums by everyone from Iggy Pop to Bob Dylan.
He also enjoyed success with his own 1980s reggae-influenced rock band El Rayo-X (“Mercury Blues” still appears on radio from time to time).
With a lifelong love of international music, Lindley and fellow guitar eccentric Henry Kaiser traveled to Madagascar in 1991 to record six albums of indigenous music; the experience served to change Lindley’s musical directions and he’s concentrated on a more worldly sound ever since, including six years of work with Jordanian-born percussionist Hani Naser.
His most recent world music experiments have linked him with Ingram, a Madison, Wisc.-born drumming sensation who’s worked with Browne, Sheryl Crowe, Blues Traveler, Tracey Chapman and Art Garfunkel
Lindley’s also set an important precedent in the music business by managing the release of his own bootleg albums – even going so far as adding a note in his CDs asking anyone who’s ever uploaded his music from the Internet to send him $5 (the strategy, amazingly enough, apparently produces a few handfuls of fivers when he greets fans at every show).
The San Francisco Chronicle described Twango Bango III as further evidence of Lindley and Ingram’s surreal approach to music: “old time blues played on the banjo and set to a reggae beat; rip-snorting ZZ Top-style barbecue rock, backwoods Cajun with Middle Eastern motifs, and a nutty, self-effacing number called “When A Guy Gets Boobs.'”
Lindley and Ingram play at 7 p.m. tonight at State Bridge. State Bridge’s upcoming schedule includes an appearance 4 p.m. Sunday by bluegrassers Mary and Mars (featuring the original mandolin player for the Dixie Chicks). July will also feature shows by the ReBirth Brass Band, Little Hercules and Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garcia Band.