Ballads of Ortega

(Contributed Photo)

(Contributed Photo)

Toronto native and Juno nominee Lindi Ortega is bringing her fresh attitude towards country music to Waterloo. Kicking off her Canadian and U.S. headlining tour at Maxwell’s Music House on Wednesday, Ortega will be playing from her newest release Cigarettes and Truckstops, as well as some covers and collaborations with openers Dustin Bentall and The Smokes.

“The record was largely influenced by when I was reading the Hank Williams’ biography,” Ortega began. Blues music became a huge stylistic element of the album. “Being somebody who is largely influenced by country, there was this mix of country and blues that was happening as I was writing songs, in my melodies and chord progressions and things like that.”

Researching the effects of blues music on early country, listening to blues music and hiring Colin Linden to produce the record, Cigarettes and Truckstops, Ortega had began to explore the facets of this niche in country music.

“I did my take on a thing called a murder ballad,” Ortega continued. “People like Johnny Cash wrote songs like ‘Souls in Prison’ and ‘Delia’s Gone’ which were these country songs about murder, these fictitious songs they came up with, these really dark tunes. I thought it would be really interesting to do this from the female perspective.” The album also explores religion, romance and life on the road.

Before getting signed to Last Gang Records, Ortega tried to find her place in Canadian music as an independent musician.

“I was always doing music that wasn’t really fitting any kind of a mould,” she explained.

“It continued to be difficult as I was growing up and developing my path as a musician, going more in the alt country vein of music.”

After moving to Nashville, TN, Ortega and her music began to flourish.

“A lot of my music is based around traditional, old school outlaw country; I feel that there’s just more for me to do here where recording, writing and performing is concerned.”

With more performance opportunities and a more varied country music scene, Ortega had the chance to break into television with a cameo appearance and multiple featured songs on the popular show Nashville.

“Things didn’t start happening for me in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada until I started making things happen across the border,” she explained. “Being on that show is really what helped get me a lot of exposure.”

Having opened for Canadian rock-country sensation K.D. Lang, Ortega is excited to be able to headline her own show. Travelling with Canadian rock band Dustin Bentall and The Smokes, the tour will be a collaborative effort between these two acts.

“They’re opening the show, but they’re also going to be playing with me,” Ortega explained.

“I’m kind of a quirky girl so there’s always kind of absurdities in my stage performing,” she continued.

“I’m sure there will be a little bit of the unexpected because I’m touring with this great band. It’s going to be a fun, collaborative effort and I’m excited to see what comes of it.”

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