Upper Class | A&C | Secret City The fight to determine the best Canadian…
- Posted on Nov 20th 2012 4:00PM by Lonny Knapp
Lindi Ortega Facebook
Sure, you get to play bigger venues and perform for larger audiences, but every night you face a roomful of music fans that shelled out good money to see the act performing after you.
Ask Toronto-raised and Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega and she'll tell you that some impatient fans can be down right rude.
Ortega's currently supporting aging punks Social Distortion on the group's ongoing North American tour. At a recent gig in Cleveland Ohio, an audience member told her exactly what he thought of her and her music.
"The other night some guy told me I suck," the raven-haired singer tells Spinner. "So, I said I suck real good and the audience seemed to dig that, and I kinda won them over after that."
That risqué banter might endear her to punk rock fans, but it's not the sort of thing she would have said a few weeks earlier. This September, Ortega supported Grammy-award winner k.d. lang on the Canadian leg of her theater tour. Indeed, that type of talk might have made the more conservative audience blush.
"Offensiveness flies at a punk show, but with her audience I had to be a little bit more careful. I saw people that might have been my grandmother, so I kept it clean," she says.
Ortega's recently released sophomore effort Cigarettes and Truck Stops is charting at Billboard, and after more than a decade hustling in the Toronto indie scene, she's finally getting her big break.
Still, on her own Ortega doesn't draw huge audiences. Lucky for her a diverse list of more established artists have been keen to take her along for the ride.
Ortega has sung backup for The Killers' Brandon Flowers on his solo album tour. She's also shared the stage with modern folkies Noah and the Whale, moustachioed rock legend Burton Cummings and country star Dierks Bentley. She's even opened for Academy Award winner Kevin Costner.
"That was surreal for me because he's a big movie star and one of my favorite movies is Dances with Wolves. Every time I saw him, I expected him to be that character," she jokes.
Daughter of a Northern Irish mother and Mexican father, Ortega draws from a deep well of influences to produce her brand of swampy, blues-infused roots music.
Her voice instantly conjures comparisons to the likes of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris, but Ortega isn't some kind of nostalgic novelty act, or trend-chasing musical shape shifter. Her style is her own.
But as an artist that's equally comfortable performing for crusty punks, blue-haired grannies, and indie kids alike, one thing's for certain -- there's going to be a lot less heckling that she sucks in the future.
In fact she says she's just following the lead of her main man, J.C. (That's the man in black, not the man with a crown of thorns.)
"Johnny Cash is my biggest influence, and I'm inspired by the way he transcended genre," says Ortega. "I've got a bit of blues, a bit of country, a bit of roots, and a bit of rock. I'm a bit of everything. Some people don't know how to label me, but I don't care, and I don't know many other artists that get this type of opportunity."