MUSIC NEWS - The artistry of Rodriguez; a Detroit-based cult musician who'd written and recorded two obscure albums, Cold Fact (1970) and 1971's Coming From Reality, before fading into the footnotes of underground American music, is being discovered anew thanks to Searching for Sugar Man, a critically-acclaimed documentary film directed by Malik Bendjelloul and the film's soundtrack album, available now from Legacy Recordings/Light In the Attic.
The success of the Searching For Sugar Man film (trailer below) has led to an incredible renaissance for Rodriguez, the subject of a CBS "60 Minutes" segment airing on Sunday, October 7 (check your local listings). The artist, who appeared at this year's Newport Folk Festival, has a 22-date American headline tour in the offing and a Facebook page devoted to his music.
On Friday, September 21, Rodriguez played the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbus, Missouri, in a concert featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes as backing ensemble. Rodriguez will embark on a major tour of the United Kingdom, selling more than 8,000 tickets in London already, and Ireland beginning November 16. NPR's popular "World Cafe" will air a Searching For Sugar Man special on October 18, and Sony Pictures will soon announce an early 2013 DVD/BluRay release of the film.
While songs like "Sugar Man" a dark paean to the drug-addict-pusher relationship, and "Crucify Your Mind" an inquiry into the nature of consciousness, capture and illuminate urban realities, other tracks, like "I Wonder" or "I Think of You" reflect a breezy, if not leery romanticism on the ruminations of a man who knows what love is, and what it is not and is able to put it all into poetry that rings as true as streets of Detroit, as real as today.
The film opened the 2012 Sundance festival, where it won a World Cinema Audience Award
(Documentary) and a World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit. It premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival and at the Hamptons International Film Festival's Summer Docs series.
Searching For Sugar Man chronicles the improbable story of Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, an uncompromising artist on the brink of success in the early 1970s who'd taken American protest music into stark new urban territory with two classic cult albums, Cold Fact in 1970 and Coming From Reality in 1971, before he vanished from public view after both albums tanked. In a twist of history, a bootleg copy of Cold Fact found its way to South Africa,
where the album's streetwise narratives of chaos, corruption, revolution and redemption became anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. Virtually unheard in America, Rodriguez's music was threatening enough to be banned by the government of South Africa, where the enigmatic Rodriguez was as popular as Elvis or the Stones, as revered as Bob Dylan or the Beatles. Searching For Sugar Man brings Rodriguez face-to-face with a nation of fans he didn't know existed while introducing a whole new generation of listeners to his music.
"Rodriguez is an inspiration...and his music is as potent now as it ever was," said Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
The growing list of celebrity fans who've tweeted their support for Rodriguez includes Diplo, Scooter Braun, Sondre Lerche, Natalie Maines, Silversun Pickups, Steve Nash, Branden Campbell, Tom Green, Mario Batali ("Wow. Sugar Man!!....Go see it ASAP !!), Paloma Faith, Roseanne Barr ("Rodriguez!!!! Genius!!!...."), Zach Galifianakis, Pharrell Williams, Ron Howard, Mal (of MusicNewsNet) and others.