When Minneapolis-based guitarist Toni Lindgren was a young girl of about five or six, her uncle would strum Bob Dylan and John Prine on his guitar strings, inspiring a love for the instrument early on in her life. “That was my introduction,” Lindgren said, “and then from there I just took it and ran.”
Run she did. Lindgren originally hails from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By age 14 she was playing in public, despite the challenges of finding all-ages venues. She came to the Twin Cities in 2007 to attend the University of Minnesota. In college, she began working with local singer-songwriter Reina del Cid, who was forming a band that now includes Lindgren, Zach Schmidt, and Andrew Foreman.
Lindgren was abroad in Central America as the band was coming together. Much to her delight, there was still a guitar-playing position waiting for her in the band when she returned. “Minnesota has been really supportive,” Lindgren says. “I’ve only seen musicians being really great to each other here.”
Both onstage and on record, Lindgren’s precise but passionate lead guitar has become integral to Reina del Cid’s sound. “I love those moments of improv,” Lindgren says about performing live. “That’s what gets me excited; the difference from night to night. Every once and a while you’ll all be on and you have that magic moment together, and that is really what I live for. When you feel totally free and you’re actually communicating with your bandmates and with the audience.”
Nationally acclaimed star Lissie currently lives in the neighboring state of Iowa, and she’s formed a Minneapolis-based band that includes Lindgren. Lance Conrad at Humans Win! mentioned to Lindgren that there might be an opportunity with Lissie, and Lindgren “jumped on it right away,” she remembers.
Shows on Jan. 25 and 26, at Icehouse, will mark the new band’s debut before they head off on tour, and Lindgren says she’s “pumped.” So are fans: both shows are already sold out.
In the meantime, Lindgren will be onstage at First Avenue during night two of The Current’s 13th Birthday Parties: on Jan. 20, with Reina del Cid. “Toni adds so much to the songs that I write,” Reina del Cid recently told Jay Gabler. “I can’t really imagine them without her.”
Lindgren says she’s a fan of bands including Now, Now and the Social Animals, who are also part of the weekend festivities. “It’s really cool we have all these bands who are coming out of here ready to explode,” says Lindgren. “It’s great to be a part of that music scene.”