Corby's Orbit

Corby's Orbit
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lindi Ortega Rises Up from inside-a her Little Red Boots

If you long for the tingle of an alt-country sound, just trim all the fat off of your accompaniment. Get a slinky spiderweb Telecaster, add a comatose upright bass and scatter loose snare shots around the dark edges. Now fill in the spaces between the notes with a compound of reverb and strangled, hoarse whispers. Compose a haunted ballad about morphine and suicide.

Photo by Emma Corby
Soon you’re well on your way to that deranged Durango of genres that lies along the lost bloodshot highway, where matadors and sombrero’d skeletons await the next round of tequila stingers. And this summer, if you’re lucky that way, your bartender’s name is going to be… Lindi Ortega.
Working the troubadour trade out of Toronto for fourteen years, riding a rich vibrato that spills out from behind a curtain of dark and sleepy hair, Lindi is finally up and floating. The newly minted disk, Little Red Boots, on Last Gang Records is the occasion of her rising arrival.
As press at CadenceSnob’s Music and The Roots Music Report come on board with high praises, her CD release at the Dakota on Monday June 6 promises to fill that little basement and threaten the foundations of the building with the pressure of aficionados and aficionadas clutched in the heartfelt ache of her sound.
Ladies, mind your men closely. They might be pretending not to be falling in love. “They’re gonna be passed out after the show,” Lindi laughed during a recent stop at CKLN, “We’re gonna be wheelin’ them away.”
Ms. Ortega comes by her fun-loving temperament honestly. Her Mexican/Irish lineage seeps into the unique texture of her songwriting, too:
“I did grow up listening to a lot of Gypsy Kings and a lot of rhythmic guitar-type music with what my Dad was listening to. He was in a Latino band. A lot of people say that they hear Celtic melodies in the stuff that I do; it’s definitely, a subconscious thing. I don’t know if it’s inherited, though. Sometimes I like to think that I come from, y’know, outer space.”
After a year of touring with Brandon Flowers of The Killers, and following Kevin Costner’s roadshow around the prairies as an opener, not to mention a link-up on record with Major Lazer and Collie Buddz, Lindi’s panoramic influences will definitely be coalescing in her stage performances as she fronts a full band this summer.
The record provides a wide variety of takeaway delights. Within the slapback sound of a deep canyon her voice cries a plaintive reproach to unfound love, male ego, and fate. Her lyrics, however, summon tints of irony, hope and and self-reliance that trump the hard luck cards that her persona is dealt from song to song.
Lindi rallies most strongly against chilly anonymity, with ammunition from Ron Lopata’s heroic organ solo, on “Fall Down or Fly”, and again, in “I’m No Elvis Presley” where she taunts a critic with her honesty: “I don’t write these songs for you / I write these songs to help me through.”
She takes on the persona of James Dean in "Jimmy Dean" to champion the significance of personal integrity regardless of the harsh brevity of life. The effect of the vulnerable teenage timbre of her voice calling on the stars and the angels to help her overcome her twilight loneliness is what budges our hearts slowly but surely toward drinking from her wellsprings of comfort: song, strong spirit and the bottles and longings that lead her on to the next sunrise.
“”If I were a blue bird I’d sing all day / I’d sit on the shoulders of people in pain / I’d sing a tune for the lonely and sad / Just to remind them that life ain’t so bad.” ~ Blue Bird
Lindi Ortega appears at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern at Ossington and Dundas Monday June 6th.
Reprinted from Lindi Ortega’s Little Red Boots — Roots Music Canada

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bruce Cockburn Turns 66 Today

To be one more voice in the human choir, rising like smoke from the mystical fire of the heart” (Messenger Wind). 

While I was reading Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren “an Everest among books”, part of the thrill was the space troubadour character named, oddly enough, Bruce Cockburn, who provided a floating lyrical chorus to the convoluted narrative. I was so impressed that our Bruce was actually a fictional character. His transcendent, literate poetics had always seemed to come from his simultaneous experience of visions and sensations in another realm. Then, decades later, he reappears in The Shack by William P. Young, a thoroughly redemptive prose work btw, as the favourite songwriter of a character named God. The world of literature has given him the super-heroic proscenium under which he wields the authority that his musical avatar represents. In his human incarnation, as the laureate that his peers recognize him to be, he is a smiling face on the dance floor of the world, grooving, enjoying his anonymity. Why is there no Cockburn Legend in the Canadian archive?

 Examined, Bruce’s talents are myriad. How much faceting can one diamond sustain? Zen master of specifically Canadian imagery, startlingly complex and subtle Mississippi-style guitar wizard, community beacon, bold mystic with Christian / Taoist / Buddhist / Sufic sleeves proudly exposed, one of the original folk bilingualists (ses textes ont imprimées en français depuis les jours duTrudeau), international peace-seeker, singer of delicacy and urgency, shy public figure, outspoken political critic, muscular ecologist, diplomat, comedian, feminist, the defenceman on the Tears Are Not Enough team that rose up in the middle and roared out the crucial goal…”Let’s show ‘em Canada still cares!”

Down at the atomic core of the crystal, the symmetry is off balance. As folk music audiences drift from the inspiration of cosmic bards toward the magnetism of the pragmatic romantics, shouldn’t the insistence of his lessons impose a personality equal to their stature? In the TV world, he is an ambassador to the ruins of the war-torn, poverty-sick world, in the shadow of the cameras and his brother John the Doctor; he is a father, struggling with his confession of past parenting disorders. But this is not the archetype of the Promethean stealer of fire, dancing a sunwheel dance in the falling dark of the dragon’s jaws that his writing portrays.

 The recent seventieth birthday of the top songwriter from that other country on our continent prompted a bacchanal of journalistic and poetic gush. I wonder about the different aspect of appreciation that our Canadian Gemini elicits. Somewhere in Colorado tonight, he will be celebrating his 66th birthday, reflecting, perhaps, on his major accomplishments, his Junos, his Hall of Fame induction, playing Pete Seeger’s birthday, Nepal, Baghdad, SNL, the new Canada Post stamp, The Order of Canada.

I wonder if he will be thankful for his significant lack of legend. Is being under the radar a stealth strategy to give him the personal space to go forth without cameras and crowds? Is his un-celebrity a way of honouring the essential human equality that he explicitly points to in lyric after lyric as the necessary precept to answering the illusory problems that incarnate life appears to impose? This way of social living evidences not only a spiritual summit reached, but, may I humbly suggest, a uniquely Canadian charm against the ways of the world, and the pitfalls of celebrity. Instead of I’m Not Here, Bruce Cockburn is transformed into a cast of ordinary characters in his own possible biopic I’m Still Here.

While the myth vortex fails to shape Bruce Cockburn into a symbolic being, he continues to translate perceptions from beyond the senses into the vulgate of the everyday for us, using language and music to provide his loyal fans with something “like gold, but better”. 
  Steady on Mr. Cockburn, and best wishes to your mortal self on this day, and upward.

The Abrams Brothers Live in Orbit

On Friday, the 6th of May at 12 noon, the Abrams Brothers let rip a ball of acoustic energy called Northern Redemption, the title song of their new cd, and Emma was there to record it all.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Phil Pratt Friday

Born 1950 in Kingston/Jamaica, Phil Pratt is one of the most crucial reggae producers. He started to work at Studio One during the rocksteady era, as a box-loader, when Lee Perry was operating there and then moved on to Caltone, where, as a sublabel, he launched Sunshot. Caltone’s musical arranger, Lyn Taitt, was a pivotal figure and as Derrick Morgan recalled: “Lyn Taitt. He’s the man who changed Jamaican music right round from ska to rock steady.” In rock steady the bass no longer gave equal emphasis to every beat but instead played a repeated pattern that syncopated the rhythm and the rhythmic focus shifted to the bass and the drums where it has remained ever since. Pratt was the one to push forward the young Horace Andy, and during the 1970s he worked with other key artists of that era - singers like Al Campbell and Dennis Brown as well as deejays like Dennis Alcapone and Jah Woosh.
In the early 1980s Phil Pratt moved to London, and when the digital dancehall era set in, he quit music business and opened a restaurant. Greg Lawson visits us in Orbit Friday the 27th At 1:00 with a full count of Phil Pratt's music.
Be there or you mustn't really care. Which would be so wrong, you must wear a thong.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Keith Mullins: Musician: Farmer: Educator.

I don't own any of these images. Thanks for kind indulgence of the performer, painters,  photographers and cartoonists.
From his EP LocalMotive Farm: Soul Searcher.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

As Luck May Have It, Aline Morales In Orbit May 20th

Lula Lounge is very pleased to celebrate the closing night of Lula World 2011 with the launch of Aline Morales' stunning solo CD "Flores, Tambores e Amores" With the Heavyweights Brass Band and DJ General Eclectic. Hosted by CBC Radio's Garvia Bailey.
7pm doors, 9pm show, tickets $13 advance, $15 at the door

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May Daze N May Bees N Music of the Spheres

Transcendent Expanses of Sunbears, The Opposite of Everything, Vriend of the West and Blue Lights of Midnight

Jaron Freeman-Fox visits with live fiddle loops and previews his Lula gig next Tuesday May 17

Kate Boothman at Noon with Eiyn Sof

Location: The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge)
Time: ‎9:00PM Thursday, May 19th

Ann Vriend as part of Bluebird North will be test flying her
Love and Other Messes disk at 1:00
Raoul Baneja will be in to talk BIGTIME harmonica blues history at 11:30.

Location: Hugh`s Room
Time: ‎8:30PM Sunday, May 15th

Friday, May 6, 2011

Distillin' Dylan

my songs're written with the kettledrum
in mind/a touch of any anxious color. un-
mentionable. obvious. an' people perhaps
like a soft brazilian singer . . . i have
given up at making any attempt at perfection/
the fact that the white house is filled with
leaders that've never been t' the apollo
theater amazes me. why allen ginsberg was
not chosen t' read poetry at the inauguration
boggles my mind/if someone thinks norman
mailer is more important than hank williams
that's fine. i have no arguments an' i
never drink milk. i would rather model har-
monica holders than discuss aztec anthropology/
english literature. or history of the united
nations. i accept chaos. I am not sure whether
it accepts me. i know there're some people terrified
of the bomb. but there are other people terrified
t' be seen carrying a modern screen magazine.
experience teaches that silence terrifies people
the most . . . i am convinced that all souls have
some superior t' deal with/like the school
system, an invisible circle of which no one
can think without consulting someone/in the
face of this, responsibility/security, success
mean absolutely nothing. . . i would not want
t' be bach. mozart. tolstoy. joe hill. gertrude
stein or james dean/they are all dead. the
Great books've been written. the Great sayings
have all been said/I am about t' sketch You
a picture of what goes on around here some-
times. though I don't understand too well
myself what's really happening. i do know
that we're all gonna die someday an' that no
death has ever stopped the world.
Bob turns 70 this month, May 24.