The worst-dressed man in America plays the Kuumbwa

Man, if I dressed like David Lindley, my employer would have issues. Hell, my wife would have issues. And my two daughters would find innovative new ways not to be seen with me in public.

But if I played music like David Lindley, none of that would matter much. I bring this up because I got a chance to catch Lindley last Monday, Feb. 19, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and the man was everything his fans hoped he’d be: brilliant, soulful and dressed like a blind tourist on his first trip to Vegas.

That’s his trademark, of course. The shirt and pants that go together like Britney and K-Fed, each hideous in their own right, but made even uglier by the clash when they’re combined. Lindley wore a polyester shirt that looked like the drapes of an Ocean Street motel circa 1974, as you can see from this photo courtesy of photographer Cole Thompson: [photopress:DavidLindley_ColeThompson.jpg,full,alignright]

But Monday’s event was no fashion show and Lindley, playing in a homey “living room” set on the stage at Kuumbwa, dazzled with both his string-instrument virtuosity and his bent sense of humor. A highlight was a song he wrote about his “man boobs,” which sent guffaws of pained recognition through the most baby-boomer crowd.

Lindley earned his keep decades ago as the eccentric sideman of Jackson Browne and has been a member in good standing of the Southern California singer/songwriter royal court. He showed his background by performing two Warren Zevon songs, including a soulful rendition of “The Indifference of Heaven.”
As usual, Lindley brought along a boatload of guitars and other exotic string instruments and gingerly picked through each between songs. He told a long story about Ry Cooder borrowing his Turkish oud, then proceeded to play Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” on the thing, which is the first time I’ve heard Steve Earle performed on an oud since … ever.

But the highlight might have been a deeply felt, rough-hewn take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Brothers Under the Bridge.” With performances like this, don’t sweat the man boobs, David. I’d say you earned ’em.

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