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Rare music review…Lindi Ortega

May 31, 2013

I heard Lindi Ortega being interviewed on Jian Ghomeshi this morning.

What a great new old-school country music talent!

I listened to her “Cigarettes and Truckstops” and I was taken back to the world of my family of the late 1960’s, when everyone I knew listened to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.

Back to a time before Cash and Cline were “cool”.

How Ortega, a young woman from Pickering (the suburb of all suburbs), can so totally nail not only a specific genre of music now mostly forgotten, but to do so with such depth and talent, baffles me.

Ortega so clearly breaks through established notions of country music; the music industry; and how we like to think of Nashville, Tennessee.

When she was asked why she moved from Toronto to Nashville she talked of the East Nashville music scene like it was a 1960’s version of Greenwich Village. It’s where all the great new young talent gets together to grow. When asked, “why Nashville?” she said there was no where else, right now, where she would want to be.

It’s 1920’s New Orleans, or Memphis. Like 1940’s Harlem or ’60’s San Francisco. Where else could she be?

She is now on her first national tour – as the opening act for Katie Lang – which Ortega says she is finding both wonderful and weird.

It’s one thing to play a sold-old bar in East Nashville, it’s quite another to be suddenly opening, on tour with someone as talented and successful as K.D. Lang.

I love hearing that Ortega likes to read biographies of the old country legends, and wants to know what that time, and place, was really like.

I can sit here and remember that time and place, when my uncle would drive me and my brother around in his 1957 rebuilt Cadillac Convertible, and that it was a hot summer’s day in either 1968, or 69; but Ortega, who is from cul-de-sac-ville, remembers it – through her music – better than I do. You can hear it in her music.

She has the talent to take Cash’s Ring of Fire and turn it, again, into a classic. And its a classic she hasn’t even yet recorded.

And that’s only because Ortega likes the song too much to put down on a CD. She only does it – for now – live.

That’s a very sublime feeling, to appreciate the music more – when it’s still fresh – than to immediately record and sell it.

Ortega knows that the song will sell, once she records it. And Ortega – with much that reminds me of Ani DeFranco – likes to talk more about the music than how much money she is about to make.

That is a rare talent in music.

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