Austin Lounge Lizards bring bluegrass, humor to The Palms on Thursday, Nov. 1

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Hank Card (vocals, guitar), Conrad Deisler (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Kirk Williams (bass, vocals), Tim Wilson (fiddle, mandolin, vocals). The Austin Lounge Lizards – Hank Card (vocals, guitar), Conrad Deisler (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Kirk Williams (bass, vocals) and Tim Wilson (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) – will bring bluegrass- and country-based humor to The Palms Playhouse (13 Main St., Winters) on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.

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By KATE LADDISH Entertainment correspondent The Austin Lounge Lizards have been blazing a musical trail through topics as varied as politics, love, popular culture, dining options in the afterlife and how to handle long-winded barflies for over 35 years, using bluegrass, country and Texas swing as the vehicle for their satirical lyrics. The Texas-based quartet will return to The Palms Playhouse on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22. Whether it’s a comedic retelling of the mundane (“Hey, Little Minivan”), warped versions of the expected (“This Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home”), clever skewerings of American culture and politics (“Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs,” “Jesus Loves Me, But He Can’t Stand You”) or the fancifully bizarre (“Highway Café of the Damned”), the Lizards aren’t afraid to leap into the fray. “We try to be funny and witty,” said singer and guitarist Hank Card. “We enjoy tight three- or four-part harmonies and try to feature Conrad (Deisler) and Tim (Wilson) on instrumentals. “Not all our stuff is political, but as you can imagine, that sort of song has become more popular.” Card and guitarist, mandolinist and singer Deisler are the primary writers. Card said it’s “kind of tough” to pinpoint the songs’ sources, explaining there’s a range. “‘Highway Café’ was inspired by the old Red Clay Ramblers’ song ‘Merchants’ Lunch,'” he said. “I don’t remember what inspired ‘Rocky Byways,’ [a hard-driving bluegrass song about a chicken’s showbiz career] except for the bluegrass road songs. “We wrote ‘That Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home’ on a driving trip that passed through Cline’s Corner, New Mexico. And there’s an ‘Old Blevins’ road on I-35 between Austin and Dallas. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” The irreverent fruits of that devil’s workshop ripen on the Lizards’ 11 albums, and spark into life during performances. While the Lizards’ off-beat take on country and progressive bluegrass music is a constant, there’s been flux in the line-up. Former Lizards Tim Wilson and Kirk Williams rejoined the band last year, making it a quartet with founding members Card and Deisler. “The Lizards started out as a four-piece band in 1980,” said Card, “then Tim joined us not long thereafter, I guess in 1981, as our first mandolin/fiddle player.” Card said the band’s first gig as a quintet was a victorious appearance at the Kerrville, Tex. bluegrass band contest. Wilson recorded the Lizards’ first album, “Creatures from the Black Saloon,” in 1984 before leaving to join storied bluegrass band The Special Consensus. Card said bassist Williams’ previous stint in the Lizards started with their second album, the 1988 release “Highway Café of the Damned.” “They are both excellent singers, so we have some serious vocal firepower with them, if I do say so myself,” Card said. With fully half the band turning over, was it hard to get things up to speed? “It’s really fresh and fun,” said Card, adding that Wilson and Williams “slotted in very easily,” partly because they’d recently sat in as subs. “We’d even started a separate band, The Medlers, that plays medleys of cover songs, usually thematically based around more obscure Lizard tunes. We’re still playing as The Medlers sometimes and do a little of that repertoire at the Lizard gigs.” Looking ahead to the Nov. 1 show, Card said, “I asked Conrad, who remembers these things, and he said we first played The Palms in 1988. Palms audiences are very attentive and like to participate, which works for us.” Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and austinlizards.com.  ]]>

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