Lindi Ortega at Jammin Java

Nashville based Canadian singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega performs at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia. Photo: Lindi Ortega

VIENNA, Va., February 25, 2013 –The word “professional” gets thrown around a lot when people are referring to a singer’s stage performance. But what’s rarely taken into account is what that term actually means. Making things more complicated, when people try to describe a musician’s live performance, there are definitely different connotations to “professional” depending whether the performer is male or female. Even when the term is used to describe the music an artist plays, its meaning can vary drastically between positive and negative connotations.

Lindi Ortega’s live performance at Jammin Java Saturday night can be described as professional in the best possible way.

On a certain level, this is to be expected. Ortega has been performing for over a decade now and that’s easily noticeable in the way it translates to her live show. She is someone who has clearly performed in a countless number of shows to the point where she has perfected her chosen craft to the level of an exact science. During her set there isn’t a single moment where her performance feels inauthentic. Everything she does just appears to come naturally.

Although it’s easy to say that her stage presence and performance has been well rehearsed down to the minutest detail, that’s not necessarily true in a traditional way. She’s played so many shows at this point in her career and has gone through the exact same routines so many times, it feels as if her entire set has become a matter of instinct. Even the spontaneous moments during her set, like accepting a drink from a fan, seem as if they’ve happened to her dozens of times in any number of previous shows.

That’s just another way of saying Lindi Ortega is an artist who’s perfectly comfortable in her own skin. For every minute she’s on stage, performing her songs and conversing with the audience, she is “on.” There’s never a moment where her energy wavers, even when she performs the several songs in her set that are noticeably down tempo.

This cuts directly to what makes a singer/songwriter successful in a live venue. It also shows the dichotomy between male and female musicians in the genre. Male singer/songwriters seem to have permission to be either somber or surly depending on their clout with the crowd. Female singer/songwriters on the other hand aren’t necessarily afforded this luxury and are almost universally expected to be a mixture that includes bubbly, clever, and energetic. Fair or not, this is how the singer/songwriter is expected to connect with the audience. It’s the lifeblood a good set and something that makes a singer/songwriter consistently more notable than it does in just about any other musical genre.

All this plays to Ortega’s strengths. It’s the essence of what it means for her to be professional.  The only way her live set will be considered a success – granted, no one is necessarily judging her – is how well she connects with her audience night in and night out. Happily, this is something she does superbly.

She’s a fine songwriter, and each of her songs come across with the right amount of emotional verve to guarantee her live performance would never falter. The specific kind of country sound she brings to the table illustrates her Canadian roots. But she’s polished enough to be comfortable with the fact that she’s been living in Memphis awhile. As a result, her style is emotionally resonant, both lyrically and sonically, yet without the noticeable twang of American country.  Her fine stage show is ably framed by opener and back up band Dustin Bentall and the Smokes.

This high quality of her set was never in question, but doesn’t quite describe the full picture you get when seeing Lindi Ortega perform live. The way she makes everyone around her a part of the show while swirling around her powerful center of attention is a key component of what makes her stage presence so appealing, and the content of her songs so personal and poignant. This is what it means when Lindi Ortega’s fans describe her as a professional.

Keep up to date on music with Riffs by Stephen Bradley

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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