The violinist composes on the bike
Violinist Anne Lindsay
From Cape Town, South Africa to historic Tuscan towns, from the vineyards of Niagara to the Don and Humber River trails around Toronto, Anne Lindsay loves seeing – and exploring – the world from the saddle of her bike. “Usually when I’m travelling, I’ll rent a bike, but I always take my saddle because I have a custom seat and it makes a big difference when you are renting,” she says.
For the Toronto musician, cycling is therapy – whether she rides alone or in a group. Usually, on solo rides, she finds herself writing songs or practising tunes while making perfect circles with her feet.
“I get into a place where it’s easy for those ideas to flow,” Lindsay explains. “My brain is clear of all the other riff-raff and minutiae of daily life, which allows me to go to that place and create. The rhythm of the road, too, is inspiring. If I’m on a hill, there are certain tunes I sing to myself to help me make it up the incline.”
If Lindsay feels she might forget a melody or song sketch that comes to her while cycling, she’ll stop and sing it into her phone.
The violinist’s joy of cycling began during her formative years in the early 1970s while living near Alliston, Ont. She bought her first bike (a “classy women’s white Lejeune 10-speed”) with the summer earnings her parents paid her for taking care of the horses on the family farm.
“It cost me about $100, which was a lot of money then,” Lindsay recalls. “I loved it. It was a really cool bike and I was determined I was going to ride it across Canada. A girlfriend of mine was into the idea, too. To this day, I haven’t done it, but I did ride from our farm along Highway 89 into Alliston, which was the closest town for my swimming lessons. That was my first riding adventure. “
“It was stolen once from a backyard and used as a getaway vehicle for someone robbing a Mac’s Milk,” she adds. “I was heartbroken that someone would steal my bike, but luckily the police found it.”
Lindsay began fiddlin’ about on the violin in middle school. In Grade 8, she was honoured for being the most promising violinist. “They gave me a violin as a prize,” Lindsay recalled. “Of course, I cried. Later, when I was 16, I drilled a hole in this violin and put in a pick-up so I could play in a rock band.”
Today, Lindsay makes a living as a full-time musician, which is not an easy gig. The same qualities that she brings to cycling – hard work, determination and variety – serve her in her career. She plays traditional fiddle tunes, brings her electric-violin stylings to studio sessions and even rocks out at corporate gigs. “I got to experience the golden years of the music business,” Lindsay says. “Having a diverse skill set has proved to be very beneficial to getting a wide variety of work. From my point of view, to experience so many different types of music and play with so many wonderful players, it’s been a wonderful career.” During this successful career, which is far from done, Lindsay has had the opportunity to play with Blue Rodeo, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, The Chieftains and James Taylor. These days, when she’s not commuting on two wheels around the Greater Toronto Area, or playing a gig somewhere, the musician is writing songs for a new project. “Things are fermenting,” Lindsay says. “I’m figuring out what the whole scope will be and I’m still conversing with the muse.”