She’s a little bit country, she’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll

Lindi Ortega’s down to Earth aesthetic helps her span genres

Lindi Ortega strikes a pose as the girl with the big voice that can tour with punks and poets. Supplied

It’s not quite a truck stop, but Lindi Ortega is hanging out in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee, waiting for the phone to ring.

“It’s my phone interview day,” she says. “It’s exciting because ever since the first record, people want to call and talk, and people still want to talk about it, so it’s great.”

It’s been just over a year since Ortega released her debut full-length with Last Gang Records, Little Red Boots, and the boots are already making an appearance on the cover of her second album, Cigarettes and Truckstops, set to drop Tuesday, Oct. 2.

“I’m very proud of it,” Ortega says. “The album takes its name from one of the songs off of it, the first song, which is a song I wrote about reminiscing about a tour romance I once had.

“I thought the title was fitting to the touring lifestyle that I’ve been living for a while now. Truck stops are the thing you do when you’re touring in a van or a bus. You fill up on gas, any smokers in the band take a break, and it reminds me of that.”

Cigarettes and Truckstops is physical evidence of the evolution Ortega has undergone since the release of Boots.

“I learned more about country and went back to the early beginnings, which I was inspired to do after reading a Hank Williams biography,” she says. “I realized the connection between the blues and early country, and I listened deeply to blues and country. The more I listened, the more it influenced my music.

“(Canadian blues musician and producer) Colin Linden came in with his extensive blues background and brought that to the production of my album. He did an excellent job.”

Touring with Social Distortion the first time taught me a lot about punk music fans. They appreciate artists that are raw, and real, and honest, and have conviction, and stand by what they’re doing.

Lindi Ortega

Ortega is in the midst of a cross-Canada tour in support of k.d. lang, with a stop in Winnipeg Friday, Sept. 14 at the Pantages Playhouse.

The pairing is fitting— Lang is a prolific Canadian singer-songwriter who has her roots in country music.

“It’s amazing,” Ortega says. “I’m a huge fan (of Lang). She’s one of the best vocalists out there for me. She’s inspiring to watch, and I hope to learn from her and apply it to my own show.”

Not to be pigeonholed, Ortega also has another tour lined up beginning in October in support of one of punk’s most influential groups, Social Distortion.

“Touring with Social Distortion just goes to show that music can span genres. You don’t have to be part of just one genre to ‘get it.’”

Ortega has toured in support of Mike Ness and the gang before, and says that punk audiences are very accepting.

“Touring with them the first time taught me a lot about punk music fans, and that it’s more of a mentality. They appreciate artists that are raw, and real, and honest, and have conviction, and stand by what they’re doing.

“(Social Distortion lead singer) Mike Ness is a country fan himself, and he ends his show with a cover of Ring of Fire. I end my show with Folsom Prison Blues, so I think it fits perfectly.”

Published in Volume 67, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 12, 2012)

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