One quiet afternoon a few years back, a guy walked into my friend's music shop. After a few minutes, he asked to see a vintage lap-steel guitar that was hanging on the wall. Plugging it into a small, old tube amp, he sat down and played for the next 20 minutes or so. But it only took the first 20 notes for my friend to recognize him: David Lindley has a style of playing slide guitar that's as unique as his fingerprints.
It's Lindley's slide, in fact, that prevents me from dumping my Jackson Browne records. After a decade spent backing Browne (1971-'81), Lindley's off-the-wall sense of humor and eclectic influence -- from reggae to the Everlys -- became the featured attraction of his own band, El Rayo-X. Since then, Lindley has continued his career as an in-demand session player while recording and performing in various settings -- most recently, in a duo with Jordanian percussionist Hani Naser. A multi-instrumentalist, Lindley plays Hawaiian lap-steel guitar, Irish bouzouki, Turkish saz and oud, as well as guitar and mandolin. What's more, his performances weave together sounds from African, Middle Eastern, Malagasy, Asian, Celtic, and American folk traditions.