LINDY on the Direct Energy Midtown Mix Stage (Yonge and Eglinton), Saturday (July 10), 2 pm. Free. www.toronto.ca/special_events Rating: NNNNN
If you were an aficionado of the granola-munching, peace-sign-flashing Prairie folk fest circuit a few decades ago, there's a chance you might've been among the earliest members of the Lindy fan club. Born into what he describes as a Peter, Paul and Mary clan, the Toronto singer/songwriter - who, at well over 6 feet, with a messy white-blond coif and a penchant for hugs, resembles a magnified elf brought to life - spent his formative years belting out nationalistic Canadian ballads and Icelandic anthems to Folkarama audiences.
"They forced me into it!" he chuckles sleepily over lemon-infused ice water on the sunny Squirly's patio.
"The first time I performed I was four years old, and I got up in front of a couple hundred people on a beautiful sunny day like today at the Icelandic Festival in Gimli, Manitoba, and we sang this song about nuclear war. Of course, I had no idea. It would've been so traumatic if I'd known!"
Certain aspects of growing up in the Mighty Wind culture were clearly scarring for the musician. He has horror stories about sweltering in faux Icelandic costumes of thick wool sweaters and ballet slippers. Luckily, they weren't traumatic enough to dissuade him from spending the rest of his life onstage.
After years of playing gigs on the local scene and across the country, record company drama (former label Aquarius dropped him cuz he didn't fit into their super-mainstream bent) and a brief stint in New York, Lindy's returned home to release his newest disc, Suspension Of Disbelief, on the upstart Orange label, home to likeminded singer/songwriters like Jim Bryson and Melissa McClelland.
The album has great melodies and the same beautifully haunted quality of early Radiohead. That might have something to do with the Icelandic folk songs of Lindy's youth, which he describes as "almost Slavic. Scary. They give you a reason to stay under the covers at night.
"The thing about Iceland is that the rock formations actually look like the fairy tales. So when they tell a story about a troll walking around and turning into stone when the sun comes up, you can actually see it, because the lava forms into weird gnome shapes. If you've ever wanted to travel in an interplanetary sense, Iceland would be a good compromise."
And although he's been enjoying the rock club circuit - he's just returned from a sojourn out west, where he got to show his tourmates the hospital where he was born and the house he grew up in - he's stoked about returning to his roots by playing this weekend's Celebrate Toronto fest.
"I play fuckin' bars all the time, but I love playing for kids. That's what I want to do later on - play folk festivals and that whole circuit."
Maybe you could start playing If I Had A Hammer at all your shows?
He bursts into song. "What the hell is that song about? 'I'd hammer out love between the brothers and the sisters all over this land'? Is it, like, about incest?"