Rupa & the April Fishes opening
VETERANS MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM
The Center for the Arts presents
Sunday, February 28, 8:00PM
$38.50 members, $48.50 non-member
(Ticket price includes $2 facility fee and $1.50 for Hospitality House. Does not include applicable fee for online purchases.)
As a singer, songwriter, activist and independent entrepreneur, Ani DiFranco has been setting her own pace—and encouraging countless admirers to do the same—for more than 20 years. But while she has been known as the “Little Folksinger,” her music has grown far beyond her acoustic solo roots in cozy venues to embrace jazz, soul, electronica and even more distant sounds. All of which are featured in DiFranco’s new Righteous Babe release, Allergic To Water, where she also blends abstract imagery and deceptively understated melodies with personal reflections on her life in New Orleans where she is now raising her two children with her partner, producer Mike Napolitano.
“It’s such a humbling, and grueling, thing to raise children,” DiFranco said. “And that makes playing music more precious and makes me more grateful. It’s a real balancing act, but it also has a balancing effect.”
DiFranco adds that becoming a mother has brought her closer to listeners who have followed her music since she began performing in New York City during the early 1990s. But widespread attention never prevented her from holding on to her integrity, and independence. A strong belief in human rights has run throughout her work, including when she played at numerous benefit concerts around the world. At a time when record labels still held an oversized influence, DiFranco stood ahead of the curve in launching her own Righteous Babe Records. The company has released more than 20 of her albums to date, ranging from the popular two-disc live album, Living In Clip (1997), to the expansive To The Teeth (1999), which included such guests as legendary R&B saxophonist Maceo Parker and Prince. Journalist Sylvie Simmons wrote in the British music magazine MOJO in 1998, “Even if her overt politicism and her 200-shows-per-year tours with an acoustic guitar place her in the Woody Guthrie tradition, her music—which has boldly plundered funk or punk, hip hop, rock—doesn’t.”
Some stellar traditional New Orleans musicians and jazz players contributed to her 2012 disc, Which Side Are You On?, and the Crescent City also informs Allergic To Water, which is one of her most intimate and musically expansive recordings. This autumn, DiFranco continues to tour internationally behind Allergic To Water with her stellar trio of bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Terence Higgins.
DiFranco has also marked other career milestones this past year. This summer she returned to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, where she received their prestigious Artistic Achievement award, coupled with her first ever honorary doctorate, which was given to her by the University of Winnipeg. She also marked the passing of one of her own mentors, Pete Seeger, through writing a moving essay about the man and his legacy in the Wall Street Journal.
“I think that my one grain of wisdom in my life, which serves me well, is that when I meet a great teacher, I follow them,” DiFranco said. “I invent excuses to be near them. Whether it’s Pete, Utah Phillips, or Sekou Sundiata, it’s made my life pretty great along the way.”
with Todd Sickafoose (bass), Terence Higgins (drums)
A sound that is as difficult to define as life is to confine, the music of Rupa & the April Fishes pulls from eight years of street parties, festivals and symphonic concerts on three continents, three studio albums, one live album and one string quartet recording in the making, several languages from English to Tzotzil to French, many musical traditions, countless moments of joy, sorrow, loss, and transformation and a fierce independent spirit.
The band’s first album eXtraOrdinary rendition examines love from many angles, with lyrics mostly in French; the second Este Mundo traces the plight of migrants crossing borders, largely in Spanish;BUILD is their latest studio album primarily in English, produced with collaborator Todd Sickafoose. Its twelve songs examine the road from solitude to solidarity in both directions and arise from this particularly tender moment of global awakening—from the collapse of capitalism and false democracies to the rise of populist movements around the world. Their LIVE at the Independent album was produced at the request of fans who wanted to capture the wild balance of composition and improvisation that is the hallmark of the band’s rock performance. They are currently recording again with Todd Sickafoose, an exquisite collection of string quartet love songs arranged by composer Mark Orton for Quartet San Francisco.