Among the Musical

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Tony Scherman  |  May 23, 2023  |  5 comments
Before offering a few modest observations about the music, life, and times of David Lindley, a man who never met a stringed instrument he couldn't master and who died on March 3, I'll make two points, both somewhat contrarian.

In the flood of obituaries and tributes that have appeared since his death at age 78, one reads ad nauseam that Lindley, a lifelong Los Angeles resident whose most productive years were the 1970s and '80s, "help[ed] shape the sound of West Coast soft rock," as Guitar Player's writer put it. While Lindley's impact on Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and other Southern California soft-rockers was indeed considerable, he was equally, if not more, a firebrand, especially on his favorite instrument, the lap-steel guitar, which he essentially introduced to mainstream rock.

Tony Scherman  |  Mar 29, 2023  |  0 comments
I considered it an exciting discovery. It was an exciting discovery, in the rarefied world of rock'n'roll historiography: namely, that the great New Orleans, later Los Angeles, drummer Earl Palmer was responsible for one of the major paradigm shifts in 20th century American culture: the rock'n'roll beat. The aha moment came when Earl and I were preparing his 1999 oral autobiography, Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story. Long before my cantankerous interlocutor (Earl ran hot) unspooled his amazing life story for me, a running interview that swallowed the better part of my 1990s, I had come to believe that Earl played a major role, perhaps the major role, in the development of rock's rhythmic underpinnings, hence of the music itself.
Tony Scherman  |  Jan 25, 2023  |  8 comments
Three or four years ago, coming back from hip surgery, I put in a stint of physical therapy. The assistant trainer, a 24-year-old named Caitlin, was a big pop music fan, as am I, although, to borrow from one of Hank Williams Jr.'s songs about his daddy, Caitlin's kind of pop and mine ain't exactly the same.
Tony Scherman  |  Nov 30, 2022  |  2 comments
Tyler Chester was headed south on the I-5 to San Diego, where he would join indie-rock eminence Andrew Bird's road band for a brief tour. Touring is an activity Los Angeles–based Chester pursues with decreasing frequency, he told me in a recent phone chat. After years as a busy sideman and recording-session musician—he is equally proficient on bass, guitar, and keyboards—Chester finds himself spending less and less time as a player and more as a producer.