Hello Bilerico Friends!
With municipal elections here in sunny Fort Lauderdale completed, I've had a little bit of time to decompress. Now, rather than working full time, going to school full time and working on campaigns, I'm only working and going to school, both full time. It's my version of a vacation. So, I took some much needed time off politics, stayed out of trouble and threw myself into my schoolwork (which I'll have to get back to in just a minute, as soon as I tell you about tonight). So in this post I'm going to stay as far away from politics as I can (trust me, it's not that far) and write about one of my other passions, music.
One of my friends recently asked if I knew who Ani DiFranco was... Duh? She's only one of the most talented guitarists and poets of our time! And then he told me she was coming to Pompano Beach, Florida. OMG!
Now, for those of you not familiar with her, Ani DiFranco (pronounced Ah' Nee, not An' Ee) began to rise in the indy music scene in the 1990's, hailing from Buffalo, NY. She is openly bisexual, although currently married to a man. Her songs, a combination of rock, blues, funk, soul, folk and jazz (sometimes all in the same song) have always been thought provoking and outwardly discontent, either at society or another person or persons, while still having an introspective aspect, acknowledging her own idiosyncrasies.
With the exception of 1997 and 2002, she has released a new studio album every year from 1990-2008 if you include her 2007 compilation "Canon" (but not including her live albums). Her following has always been a blend of unique and eclectic individuals, many falling into whatever this year's "hippie" category consists of. I was even a bit of a hippie myself when I was introduced to her music in my first year of college in the 90's.
That hippie came out tonight as she sang at Club Cinema. It was a small, intimate venue and I probably could have reached out and grabbed the leg of her gray cargo pants. Sporting those with a wifebeater and military boots, small tatoos showing here and there, she was everything I imagined and more. She played a number of songs from Red Letter Year and Reprieve. For the die-hard fans over thirty like myself (don't tell anyone), she played a couple from Dilate. And then she played a few unreleased songs. Her poetry as usual was unconventional and brilliantly graphic, but there was much more introspection and a great deal of internal growth reflected in her newer songs. I spent the entire night either singing along with the songs I knew or bobbing my head, satisfied smile on my face, along with the ones I didn't. I let her poetry come to life in my head while her guitar came to life in my ears.
My favorite song of the night was "Obama", at least I think it's called "Obama", either that or "Yes We Can." Being a singer I've sung in my share of American-themed benefits and concerts. I've heard people talk about this-or-that American-themed country song (they're always country, aren't they?) and the pride they felt. The commercialization of patriotism would make me cringe.
After just finishing a song about the helplessness felt during and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where she now lives, talking about an idiot in a helocoptor (I make no assumptions as to who that might be, but the lyrics said he looked like a monkey...), she next sang "Obama". In politically-yet-artfully juxtaposed contrast, "Obama" was a song that brought to the forefront a wellspring of hope like I had never heard in her music. It was amazing to watch and hear, and the sense of patriotism from everyone, not just her, was palpable. She had spoken to those indy, hippie, bluesy rockers in their language and brought forth from them their hope for the nation. She validated them as Americans and it was beautiful. To see patriotism, a non-commercialized musical celebration of national change, finally mixed with values of inclusion was the highlight of my week, maybe my month.
See, I told you I couldn't stay away from politics for that long.