LEWISTON — Justin Lindsay doesn’t exactly look like he belongs roaming around open mic night at the local watering hole.
In fact, he’s barely tall enough to see over the bar.
He’s not much taller than the electric guitar he plays.
Nope. The 11-year-old from Scarborough looks more like your typical middle-school student than a budding rock prodigy.
“I wanna have a band. I definitely don’t want to be a one-man band,” said the smiling sixth-grader as he prepared to take the stage Monday at Pedro O’Hara’s in Lewiston.
Lindsay, whose family is originally from the Twin Cities area, has been playing at the Lewiston restaurant’s Monday night feature for about a month. His prowess has caught the attention of local crowds but also musician Denny Breau, who is working one on one with Lindsay.
“I think he’s got a lot of talent, and at just 11 years old, he’s got a lot of guitar out in front of him,” said Breau, who is introducing Lindsay to the blues. “For someone like Justin to get into the blues, it’s his destiny. It’s definitely a good vehicle to get you to love your instrument.”
Lindsay’s mother, Monica Morin, said her son fell in love with the strings after discovering the video game Guitar Hero at age 6. The youngster liked it so much that his father, an avid music fan with a collection of more than 800 albums, bought his son’s first guitar a year later. His mother signed him up for lessons shortly after that.
Morin said things progressed quickly, as Lindsay rapidly picked up song after song. Maybe it was his uncle’s promise to pay him $20 if he learned to play Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Maybe it was an inherent love of the classic rock his dad exposed him to as a toddler.
Whatever the driving factor, Lindsay’s uncle, Kyle Lindsay, said he never promised to pay his nephew again because he learned the song so quickly. With a broad smile, the Sabattus man added that he would have gone broke quickly if he had gone on promising to pay the boy per song.
“He really surprised us. He blew everyone away,” said Mike Krapovicky of Auburn, who runs Open Mic Mondays at Pedro O’Hara’s. “Just to come out and see somebody with chops like this. He’s just so far ahead of everybody at his age.”
Morin recently realized there might be something to her young son’s dream of one day hitting it big.
“My heart was telling me,” she said. “I knew it. But to hear a third party come out and say it, I’m starting to see this kid turn into something special — this kid who always wanted to be a rock star.”