He seemed frail when escorted onstage by two women Wednesday at the sold-out Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. But then he put on his dark-tinted glasses, his floppy black hat and his beige guitar and suddenly he transformed into Rodriguez, musician of mystery, melancholy and that Oscar-winning movie.
“Searching for Sugar Man,” which took the Academy Award this year for best documentary, told the story of an obscure Detroit folk-rock singer whose two albums from the early 1970s had somehow made him into a beloved cult hero in South Africa. Two obsessive fans there started searching for the singer, thought to be dead, and not only found him in Detroit but then brought him to South Africa for a series of major concerts in the late 1990s. It was all filmed and eventually turned into a 2012 movie.
It’s a fascinating story and a terrific footnote in rock history — that Rodriguez’s career was relaunched by an Oscar-honored movie.
And Rodriguez’s concert at the Fitzgerald was as winning as the movie. Maybe more so.
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