Dustin Bentall & Lindi Ortega @ Maxwell’s – 23 Jan 2013

DB_Jan2013_3One of my very favorite Canadian talents over the last few years is Dustin Bentall.  Yes he is the son of the “Legendary” Barney Bentall (if you don’t get that pun – go Google it).  I first saw Dustin open for Blue Rodeo on their “The Things We Left Behind” tour back in 2009.  Back then he was The Dustin Bentall Outfit.  It was at that show that I also became a huge fan of his fiddle player, the incredibly talented Kendel Carson (I’ll write a review of Kendel someday soon because you need to hear her music!).  So whenever either or both are in town I always try to catch the show.

Now Dustin Bentall & The Smokes have embarked on a six week North American co-headlining tour  with Toronto singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega (more on her in a moment).  Last Wednesday the tour began at Maxwell’s Music House in Waterloo ON with a sold-out show.  DB & The Smokes did not disappoint.  They played many of my favorites like the rockin’ “Six Shooter”, the soulful “Pontiac”, and of course usual crowd pleaser “Three Thousand Miles”.  They released an EP back in the fall entitled “Orion” and some of those tunes made the set-list; “Emmy-Lou” is a fun tune about what I can only image was a fun night.  Coincidentally its also my favorite DB song to play myself on guitar.  I finally got to hear “You Are An Island” live which is the brilliant jewel of the EP.  Without question I thought that song should be a single the first time I heard it.  The subsequent video is stunning.  Check it out on YouTube.  While a treat to hear live, it does not translate as well on stage as it does on the record.  Never-the-less, I was thrilled to hear it.  The best part of the evening for me was the as-yet-to-be released “Shine”.  “Shine” is an uber fast ode to drunken debauchery that gets stuck in my head for days.  Dustin, if you ever read this, please tell me that is going to be on the next EP!  Awesome tune.

As with every Dustin Bentall show I’ve been to, I left thoroughly entertained.  It was unfortunate that regular bassist Del Cowsill was unable to join the tour.  His stand-in did quite an admirable job.  Unfortunately another concert the next night (which I will review shortly) kept me from the second night of the tour at The Rivoli in Toronto where Del guested for a couple songs as did Mr. Bentall Sr.  That would have been a hell of a treat!

That brings me to the other half of the bill, Lindi Ortega.  A Toronto native that now resides in Nashville, Lindi received critical acclaim for her album “Little Red Boots”.  She was nominated for two Juno awards in 2012.  I was familiar with her work prior to the show and had heard the aforementioned album several times and enjoyed it.  She recently released her follow-up “Cigarettes & Truckstops” produced by the renowned Colin Linden.

Well am I certainly glad I got to see Lindi in concert.  Not only was it a bonus that DB & The Smokes were her backing band (like a 2 for 1 DB show!) but Lindi herself was amazing.  Yes a gifted songwriter but it was her voice that blew me away.  Initially I had suspicions that she might be a tad too country for my tastes….did not matter.  Such a fun, entertaining show.  I brought my typical concert wingman, Bryan, to the show.  Already a fan of Dustin, he was just in awe of Ms. Ortega.  We both bought “Little Red Boots” on vinyl (because vinyl kicks ass).  The highlight of the set was the encore which had Lindi and the band do a great version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.

I have to commend Dustin, Kendel and the rest of the band.  They did a great job as her backing band (especially having already performed their own set).  It was hard to believe they had only a week to learn her material.

Check out the video below, taken from the following night’s show at The Rivoli in Toronto to really get a sense of what you missed.  I’ll have photos coming soon.

www.dustinbentall.com    www.lindiortega.com