“When I heard Lindley play that, I went, ‘That’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life’”: All-star tribute show in honor of David Lindley, one of the greatest sidemen of all time, announced

David Lindley performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 5, 2000.
(Image credit: Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty)

David Lindley was a miracle on strings and a singular character who was beloved in the guitar community. Papa Mali is a Dr. John-on-strings kind of character who is beloved in the Bayou region and beyond.

When Lindley passed on March 3, 2023, Papa Mali and Lindley drummer Wally Ingram sprang into action turning Papa’s annual birthday bash during Jazz Fest into an impromptu Lindley tribute at the newly renovated Chickie Wah Wah. Guitar Player Presents is proud to partner with them to pay tribute to the man again with more momentum and time to plan.

As perhaps the greatest sideman ever, Lindley helped define the sounds of Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton. Lindley is most renowned for signature lap-steel slide as heard on Browne’s “Running on Empty” and was an expert in Hawaiian-style slide guitar blues. But he was far more than a one-trick pony—more like a 100-trick pony! He mastered everything from violin to banjo, mandolin, dobro, bouzouki and myriad other instruments.

Here’s a classic 1981 video of Lindley ripping one of his most popular tunes, “Mercury Blues,” with the band he founded, El Rayo-X.

El Rayo-X was highly regarded as one of the first world music bands, fusing searing rock with, reggae, blues, zydeco, Cajun, R&B, and Middle Eastern music. The reggae influence in El Rayo-X made a huge impression on a young Papa Mali, who carried it forward with the Killer Bees and in his solo work. 

For this special engagement Papa Mali and Wally will play songs from Lindley’s extensive catalog along with an incredible collection of musicians including Alvin Youngblood Hart, the Iguanas, Ed Williams of the Revivalists, Marc Stone, Liza Aratow, Dave Easley, Cass Faulconer, Jeff Plankenhorn, Carolyn Wonderland, Roddie Romero, Layla Musselwhite, Lindley disciples Lorenzo Piccone and Kota Kato, plus Jimmy Leslie and more.

Leslie is GP’s Frets Editor and Presents Events Coordinator. In his June issue feature interview with Ben Harper at his family’s historic Folk Music Center he says:

“David Lindley would come in here all the time and play the Weissenborns (Hawaiian-style lap slide). That was my inspiration. I’d heard everybody come in here and play everything, but when I heard Lindley play that I went, 'That’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. There’s no way I’m not going try my hand at it.'”

Inspiration will be thick in the air as we honor one of the great musical spirits of the past half century. A portion of proceeds goes directly to the Lindley family. A Guitar Player Presents promotion will be in effect with free copies of the magazine as well as Martin guitar strings for the first batch of players in the door, so make sure to arrive early.

On stage, Lindley was known for wearing garishly colored polyester shirts with clashing pants, gaining the nickname the Prince of Polyester. So, wear your best polyester and let the good times roll!

This show will certainly sell out. Get your tickets now.

Guitar Player Presents David Lindley tribute poster

(Image credit: Press)

Win tickets!

For a chance to win a pair of tickets to see the David Lindley, send an email to gp@jimmyleslie.com with “Lindley Tribute” in the subject and simply include a sentence about yourself and why you want to go. 

Phone contact greatly appreciated for confirmation. 

Winner must provide his or her own transportation to the Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Sunday, May 5, and have his or her own accommodations in the area. 

Best of luck!

Event details

Guitar Player Presents David Lindley Tribute at Papa Mali’s Birthday Bash

Sunday, May 5

Chickie Wah Wah
2828 Canal Street
Phone: (504) 541-2050

10:15pm doors, 10:30pm show; Ages 21+

Free Guitar Player magazines & Martin strings

Buy tickets

Jimmy Leslie has been Frets editor since 2016. See many Guitar Player- and Frets-related videos on his YouTube channel, and learn about his acoustic/electric rock group at spirithustler.com.