Gig review: Buddy Mondlock
In the micro-setting of an Edwardian villa’s front room in a quiet West London street, softly spoken Chicago gentleman Buddy Mondlock held a rapt audience spellbound for over two hours with 23 sublimely literate and musically entrancing vignettes.
Accompanying himself on an old Martin acoustic guitar, together with long-standing friend Mike Lindauer on fretless electric bass and vocal harmonies. Mondlock effortlessly performed songs he has written and recorded over the past two decades with wry humour and choice anecdotes, as well as several nods to his two major mentors, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt.
Among the standout moments were his description of how he constructed the jazz-soaked "The Night She Left" while driving the 1,000 miles from New York to Chicago on a particularly frozen two-day journey, with the music of Billie Holiday to help keep out the frostbite. The result is an achingly fine blues ballad, embellished by Lindauer’s funky descending bass lines.
Mondlock arrived in Nashville around the same time as the young Garth Brooks and they teamed up to play and write songs together. One of these, "Every Now and Then", Brooks planned to use on his 1989 debut album. For a variety of reasons, it eventually appeared on his fifth album The Chase. Mondlock describes how his co-credits on this platinum-selling disc earned him enough money to buy outright a large white touring van. 350,000 miles on the clock later and the van carries him around the States to this day! The song is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to a former lover that Mondlock and Lindauer sang with the intense harmonies of the Louvins or Everlys.
Mondlock’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Nanci Griffith, Joan Baez, Guy Clark and Art Garfunkel. One song, in particular, Mondlock is especially proud of – the daydreaming world that is “Kid”. David Wilcox and Cry Cry Cry have released their versions, but Mondlock’s own favourite is that of legendary sixties pop-folk pioneers Peter, Paul and Mary. He dedicated the entire performance to Mary Travers, who died a year ago this week.
As the evening came to a close, Buddy called on his audience to participate in the rousing anthem “No Choice”. Persuaded to return for a final number, Mondlock and Lindauer performed the only cover of the evening. "Cowboys Born Out of Their Time" is taken from the current album The Edge of the World. Mondlock paid tribute to its writer, the late Tom Dundee, whose career was cut short in a motorcycle accident in 2006. This song was a fitting conclusion to a uniquely small but breathtakingly beautiful house concert.