Eclectic Folk

David Lindley - Wally Ingram

Old Town School - Chicago

May 18, 2001

First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2001, Volume 8, #7

Written by John Metzger

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David Lindley is one of the great hidden treasures of the American music scene. He is best-known for the integral part he played in establishing Jackson Browne's career. It's simply impossible to imagine what Browne's For Everyman, Late for the Sky, and Running on Empty albums would have been like without Lindley. Yet, his own projects remain relatively unknown perhaps because Lindley doesn't stay in one place for very long. His '80s rock band El Rayo-X flirted with everything from Tex-Mex, blues, and rock to Cajun, Zydeco, and Middle Eastern styles. The '90s saw him step even further outside the box. Along with ethnomusicologist Henry Kaiser, he recorded several albums based on field recordings the duo made during a two-week jaunt to Madagascar. And, they followed this up by repeating the process in Norway.

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So what is one to expect from a David Lindley concert? The answer: A little bit of everything. On May 18, Lindley and percussionist Wally Ingram set up shop at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music for an intimate evening of the most eclectic music one might imagine. The basic building block, of course, was old-time folk and blues, which surfaced most noticeably on the opening jaunt King of the Bed and the concluding medley of New Minglewood Blues and .45 Blues. In between, Lindley and Ingram traveled far and wide, grafting Carribean, Middle Eastern, and Eastern sounds onto an Americana foundation. Lazy Farmer Boy was revamped amidst the worldly panorama of Lindley's steely slide, while J.J. Cale's Tijuana was colored with a Mexican flare and framed by Ingram's painted percussion.

Throughout the set, Lindley and Ingram repeatedly tried to engage the audience regarding socio-political issues. Unfortunately, some of his introductions particularly those criticizing the current administration's policies on energy and the environment fell on deaf ears. To their credit, the duo managed to persevere, attacking SUVs (Sport Utility Suck), cheating spouses (Methlab Boyfriend), record companies (Pay Bo Diddley), and concert promoters (Cat Food Sandwiches) each with an equal mix of anger and oddly charming, offbeat humor. Combined with the awesome experience of watching two wizards ply their trade, this made for one unforgettable evening of music.

A trio of members from the Chicago-based group Ulele opened the show with a mesmerizing set that flew past in the blink of an eye. Waltzing between Hawaiian, folk, pop, and Native American styles, the group often sounded like an eccentric combination of Rusted Root and XTC. In other words, opening for Lindley and Ingram suited them just fine.

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Copyright 2001 The Music Box