David Lindley

Singular American musician David Lindley turns 77

“Mr. Dave” laid down licks across popular music while earning his own cult following that endures to this day. I believe I have seen him more in concert than any other artist.

David Lindley is likely heard most often on the classic rock radio hit “Running on Empty.”

An American Original

As a teen, David Lindley won the Topanga Canyon Fiddle and Banjo Contest. After winning five years in a row, they made him a judge. It was only up from there.

He was a founding member of the psychedelic band Kaleidoscope across the late 1960s, when he started to get session work that put his unique sound on albums by rising stars like Leonard Cohen, the Youngbloods, Graham Nash, and America, before joining the band of English singer/guitarist Terry Reid. In 1972, he began a collaboration with fellow-Californian Jackson Browne, with whom he toured for the next eight years as a duo act and with the larger commercial bands tried to Browne’s career as a recording artist.

David Lindley first entered my stream of consciousness through Jackson Browne’s second album, For Everyman, where his melodic lead guitar work, beefy violin accompaniment, and transcendent steel guitar playing, and out-shown Elton John’s piano, and the big name voices joining in on harmony vocals that helped launch Browne to international stardom. I have remained his enthusiastic admirer every since, quickly losing interest in Browne’s music once Lindley moved on to tour and record for Rod Stewart, Crosby & Nash, Dolly Parton, and many, many others.

I knew nothing about him in those days, just that, should I ever become proficient enough to perform with other people, I wanted my lead guitar playing to be as pretty or as searing, and always tastefully supportive of the songs and singers rather than upstaging them, just David Lindley.

While the rest of this birthday homage features videos, here is the studio recording of the song that made me want to become a “sideman” guitarist:

As a solo artist and front man, Mr. Dave, as he is affectionately known by his friends and fans, has chosen to play what he likes, both in terms of his music and his instruments. Famous for his clashing polyester, and his choice of unusual cover tunes and original compositions often laced with a Zappa-esque sense of humor and altruistic love for the little guy in the big bad world, be it with his Reggae-inspired band El Rayo-X…

From a later version of the band

… another high-octane steel guitar performance from their original 1980s days…

… and across his more eclectic collaborations with Ry Cooder and his duo touring with percussionists like Wally Ingram, where Lindley features his lap steel playing on instruments derived from the hollow-neck Weissenborn guitars made for Hawaiian-style music in the 1920s…

A true story of bad backstage food, “Cat Food Sandwiches”…

… as well as instruments from the cittern family like the mandolin, charango, and Irish bouzouki; and from the lute family, like the Turkish oud, bağlama, and gumbus; and the fiddle family, like the Norwegian hardingfele, and the list goes on and on…

“New Minglewood Blues” on an oud.

Performing Lindley & Browne’s composition “Call it a Loan” during their acoustic reunion tour, which played to much larger audiences than they drew in 1973, before For Everyman had hit the radio waves…

And here is a full set from, after their duets were expanded into a full band featuring others from the heyday of what became known as the California Sound.

Happy Birthday Mr. Dave. Thanks for the music!

John Mayer NAMM Set 2021

John Mayer plays Martin guitars with Engelmann spruce tops

Winter NAMM Mini Set for Martin’s Jam in Place Series

Here’s a decent opportunity to hear what Engelmann spruce sounds like after it has some time to mature and get played in. It is paired with East Indian rosewood on the OM-28JM, the original John Mayer signature model from 2002 (released January 2003,) and it can be heard matched with Guatemalan rosewood on his 2016 D-45JM later in the set. In between the two can be heard Sitka spruce, backed by cocobolo rosewood on the 12-fret 00-42SC Stagecoach model released on 2013.


American Tune for COVID-19 Social Distancing

Paul Simon sings American Tune for us all

The 78 year old American musical institution posted a solo performance of American Tune on his Facebook page.

Paul Simon American Tune COVID-19 onemanz


He recorded it on 3/19/2020 for the web “show” Til Further Notice, which takes place in Willie Neslson’s back yard. But this year is including Socially Distant performances.

For those who cannot access the performance,  a different performance of the same song appears below. He ended the Facebook performance with “Stay save everyone. Be well!”

I used to perform this every 4th of July, until I forgot how to play it. Since I may have some time on my hands, it is nice the composer provided this handy How-To video. 🙂

I had forgotten his Martin Paul Simon Limited Edition signature models have faux tortoise shell binding, ala Style 21. They also has a special fretboard width that has a 1-11/16″ width nut, at a time when Martin OMs all had 1-3/4″ width-at-nut. But the Simon models taper wider to almost the same width as a traditional OM once the fretboard reaches the 12th fret.

This particular guitar is the PS2 model released in 2000, signified by the inlaid image of Earth on the headstock. Unlike the original 1997 version, the OM-42 PS, the PS2 guitar does not have a traditional hand-fitted dovetail neck joint, but rather the Mortise & Tenon joint, and probably lower grade tonewoods, which allowed the price to be a lot lower.

Here is the maestro performing American Tune on his OM-42 PS, from 2015.

Moon River Mark by Dick Boak

A Life on Georgian Bay

A singer-songwriter expose

Dick Boak has created a video about a Martin-loving maverick named Mark Groulex, aka Moon River Mark of Ontario, Canada. Moon River runs through the forests near the eastern section of Lake Huron called Georgian Bay, about 200km north of Toronto. Boak first encountered Groulex at a local open mic when vacationing in Canada. The two have remained friend ever since.

Something Fine from Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne wrote Something Fine when he was 22

Or maybe he was even younger

While he was considered an “old soul” by his contemporaries, Jackson Browne turned 70 this past October and yet his songs are anything but dated.

When something written by a kid remains relevant, timeless even, and absolutely appropriate coming from the mouth of the same artist decades later, now that’s what I call a songwriter!

Performed on a vintage Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe.

Does Jason Verlinde of Fretboard Journal have the best job in America or what?

T Spoon Phillips New Album

Lost and Haunted Ways, the new album by T Spoon Phillips

Here at last, the original solo acoustic guitar compositions

Have you ever wanted to hear the pieces Spoon uses for his One Man’s Guitar video reviews in their entirety? Well now you can! Along with many others…

T Spoon Phillips - Album Cover Lost and Haunted Ways

Official Release, Thursday, August 9.

*Early Bird Special for Martinfest attendees*

Visit tspguitar.com for details!

Martin OMs Making Music

Marshall Fleisher’s Martin OM-42 and Maury Rutch’s OM-28V

Mates of mine meet up at Maury’s, where music magic is made

Check out this series of videos over at Maury’s Music’s blog

Maury's Music guitarist video

Two of my brothers-in-Martin make up the R and F in D.O.R.K.F., the classic rock cover band that perform in Pennsylvania, but once a year with a long list of special guests.

Marshall Fleisher has been journeyman musician since the Woodstock era and is one of those players with a built in encyclopedia of songs and his own arrangements of fingerstyle tunes, who I get to hear at Martinfest and occasionally elsewhere.

Maury Rutch made his living as a performing musician long before he started moonlighting as a dealer in fine Martin, Blue Ridge, Reverend, and Mesa/Boogie music-making machines. And when he’s not out gigging with one of his own bands, he is happy to serve as sideman for visiting musicians, wandering minstrels, or the occasional back alley tomcat.

I could listen to these guys all day long.

Visions of Johanna – 50 Years Ago Today

May 17, 1966 – Bob Dylan performs Visions of Johanna, solo acoustic

Try imagining someone hearing this song for the first time, rendered by Dylan in top form

Love songs have been a part of music since, well, forever. Many are light or even trite, while some others can be truly moving.

But when it came to popular music in modern times, there were songs about falling in love, falling out of love, being a teenager in love, or a teenager being dumped, occasionally letting someone down easy, or telling them to “hit the road, Jack.”

And then there came Visions of Johanna.

Read the full essay and hear the song HERE

Dylan 1966 Visions of Johanna concert

photo: Mark Makin who took the only photos from the concert, getting “about nine usable shots” from a roll of film, according to the BBC.

Neil Young: “Art is the dog on my porch”

I just found this tonight by accident. Neil Young’s Natural Beauty from 1992.

When everyone in the audience was hearing it for the very first time.

Countless people may strum guitar chords and sing a song and make enjoyable music, without the need for “fancy pickin.” But few perform it with so much infectious emotion as Neil Young, so that it moves the deepest wells of what the most optimistic among us call the soul.

Who make art right there in the invisible air.

“One more night of Love’s magic fire…”


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