The Texas-based Austin Lounge Lizards have been blazing a wickedly funny musical trail through topics as varied as politics, love, popular culture and how to handle long-winded barflies for more than 30 years, using bluegrass, country and Texas swing as the backdrop for their hysterical and satirical lyrics.
The Lizards will play at 8 p.m. Friday at The Palms Playhouse in downtown Winters, presenting a CD release show celebrating their new album “Home and Deranged.” Tickets are $20.
Since forming, the Austin Lounge Lizards have been honing their trademark songs and show and getting people to laugh at everything from a comedic retelling of the mundane (“Hey, Little Minivan”) to warped versions of the expected (the deceptively sentimental “This Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home”) to their clever skewering of American culture and politics (“Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers On Drugs”; “Too Big To Fail”; “Jesus Loves Me, But He Can’t Stand You”) to the outright fancifully bizarre (“Highway Café of the Damned”).
Quintessential Lizards songs feature wickedly and unassumingly clever lyrics that poke fun at everything within reach and well beyond into the realm of warped imagination. Combined with superb musicianship that features four-part vocal harmonies and instrumental prowess, the band’s music gets its punch from catchy melodies, topical yet surprisingly timeless lyrics, and use of a range of musical styles as suits each song.
Album and song titles such as the ones above all point to the Lizards’ deftly funny wordplay and ability to seize a range of topics and spin them into witty and weird songs. The Lizards’ irreverent, eclectic and eccentric approach certainly comes through on their albums, and sparks into full, vivid life during their performances.
The Lizards got their start in 1976, when Hank Card and Conrad Deisler, both history majors at Princeton University, started writing songs together. After graduating, both Card, an Oklahoman, and Deisler, a Texan, ended up at the University of Texas, Austin, where they met up in 1980 with banjo and dobro player Tom Pittman, who (as the Lizards say, tongues firmly in cheek) “had the right academic credentials (a degree in philosophy from the University of Georgia)” to saddle up and join in the musical adventure.
Accompanied by a series of talented musicians, the band began playing local and regional dates; this led to national touring and a large and deeply devoted cadre of fans. Pittman (he of the lively banjo-picking and deadpan vocals) retired from the band in 2011, but core Lizards Card (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Deisler (vocals, lead guitar, mandolin), along with Darcie Deaville (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) and Bruce Jones (electric bass, vocals), continue the Lizard-style musical mayhem with gusto — or, as the Lizards put it, “less a banjo but no less eccentric.”
Tickets for the Austin Lounge Lizards’ show at The Palms, 13 Main St. in Winters, are available at Armadillo Music in Davis, Watermelon Music in Woodland, Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com or austinlizards.com.