Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ortega hoedown delivers with WSO

A little bit country, a little bit classical

  • Print

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra served up gutsy shots of heartbreak Friday night, no chaser, courtesy of rising country/pop superstar Lindi Ortega.

The Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist made her WSO debut Friday night with the three weekend Pops shows led by acclaimed conductor/arranger Charles Cozens. The two-act program featured 14 of Ortega's original songs telling of love and loss, pain and hope by the Nashville-based artist who belted out her world-weary tales like a rasping angel.

Recently nominated for a 2014 Juno award -- her third -- for her acclaimed 2013 album Tin Star, the concert also marked her inaugural symphony show in a slew of international tour dates that sees her criss-crossing the Atlantic until June. All sensitive, less-is-more orchestral arrangements were by Cozens, who has also scored shows for Canadian groups: The Nylons, Quartetto Gelato, and aboriginal rock band Eagle & Hawk.

After a sprightly Pops Hoedown overture, Ortega took the stage in her signature lipstick, red cow punk boots and sassy black square-dance skirt, evoking a 1980s k.d. lang who preferred to saw her own footwear off at the top. Joined by rockabilly bandmates: James Robertson, electric guitar; Ben Whitely, electric bass guitar; Tristan Henderson, drums and backup vocals, they launched into their first high and lonesome number Angels from her recent CD, where she sings of being "robbed of the love I used to have."

We also heard Hard As This, also from Tin Star, that tells of a one-sided relationship, and the moody High from her 2012 CD Cigarettes & Truckstops, with the band setting up a slow groove to conjure the drug-addled euphoria of self-medicating broken dreams.

When Ortega finally got to Waitin' on My Luck to Change, a bluesy number that also saw the nervous singer visibly relax more, even adding a few dance shuffles while admitting "this is fun," the mostly older audience could also just kick back and enjoy. This gifted artist is known for daring to plumb deeply dark emotional depths and that is fine -- however, more of these upbeat tunes would have balanced the program. Voodoo Mama, inspired by the "magic" of New Orleans in which the band rocked out, including a particularly tasty guitar solo by Robertson, helped.

The second half featured Tin Star's title track, composed in tribute to "struggling musicians," with the WSO strings providing effective underpinning to Ortega's acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals sung with childlike simplicity.

There's no denying Ortega is an authentic artist with something to say. Despite the show's few rough edges for instance, more stage banter would have been welcomed -- you can be sure we will be hearing more of this unique performer with her soul-baring songs, as her own tin star continues it steady, and sure rise.

The concert repeats tonight, 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, 2 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2014 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Life Death and the Blues preview - PTE Mainstage

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you be boiling your water until the city gives the all-clear?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google