Susan Cowsill’s 39-year trip to an opening spot with Rodriguez | Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?

Susan Cowsill
Susan Cowsill

I’m sitting here wondering why I don’t have any photos of Susan Cowsill.

Even before starting this blog, I often took photos at shows to create lasting memorabilia. I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her since 2009, when this blog started. I know I saw her at least once on her own in New York, after catching her perform numerous times with her old band, the late, lamented Continental Drifters.

But nevermind that.

She and her lusty, raggedly-pushed-to-the-edge vocal style will be back in New York in October, when she opens a Barclays Center show for Rodriguez (aka Detroit-based 1970s singer-songwriter Sixto Díaz Rodríguez), who rediscovered the spotlight via the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

Way back in 1974, 16-year-old Susan was a fledgling solo artist just two years past the collapse of her family band, The Cowsills. She had a record deal and decided to cover a cool song titled “I Think of You.” She probably didn’t know who wrote the song, and never could have imagined the impact it would have on her life four decades later.

via Susan Cowsill’s 39-year trip to an opening spot with Rodriguez | Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?.

 

‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez opens Montreux Jazz Festival | Reuters

 U.S. folk singer Sixto Rodriguez performs during the first night of the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival July 4, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

U.S. folk singer Sixto Rodriguez performs during the first night of the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival July 4, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

(Reuters) – American singer-songwriter Sixto “Sugar Man” Rodriguez, virtually unknown a few years ago, opened the Montreux Jazz Festival on Thursday, which American producer and its former co-director Quincy Jones calls the “Rolls Royce of music festivals.”

Fresh from the Glastonbury festival in Britain last weekend, Rodriguez gave a Fourth of July concert in the Swiss resort, mixing songs from his two albums that never made the charts with borrowed tunes including the classic rock’n’roll hit “Fever.”

The Detroit-based singer, whose lyrics evoke the folksy sound of Bob Dylan, is the shy subject of “Searching for Sugar Man,” a film by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul that tells the incredible story of his fame late in life. It won the Oscar for best documentary this year.

Read more at ‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez opens Montreux Jazz Festival | Reuters.

Rodriguez and Big Sky live at The Blues Room, 17 & 18 June 1998

15 years ago, today, Rodriguez performed at The Blues Room in Johannesburg to launch the Live Fact album. This album was recorded on the 10th March 1998 on the Cold Facts tour of South Africa which features strongly in the Searching For Sugar Man film.

Musicians

Sixto Rodriguez: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Willem Möller: Electric Guitar
Reuben Samuels: Drums, percussion
Graeme Currie: Electric bass, acoustic bass
Tonia Selley: Background vocals, percussion
Russel Taylor: Keyboards
Robin Walsh: Acoustic guitar

Willem Möller and Rodriguez | photo: Nadine Hutton
Willem Möller and Rodriguez | photo: Nadine Hutton

The Set list

  1. I Wonder
    from Cold Fact
  2. Only Good For Conversation
    from Cold Fact
  3. Can’t Get Away only on 17th
    from The Best Of Rodriguez / At His Best
  4. Crucify Your Mind
    from Cold Fact
  5. Jane S. Piddy only on 17th
    from Cold Fact
  6. To Whom It May Concern
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  7. Like Janis
    from Cold Fact
  8. Inner City Blues
    from Cold Fact
  9. Street Boy
    from The Best Of Rodriguez / At His Best
  10. Halfway Up The Stairs
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  11. I Think Of You
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  12. Rich Folks Hoax
    from Cold Fact
  13. Climb Up On My Music
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  14. Sugar Man
    from Cold Fact
  15. Forget It
    from Cold Fact

Review – Rodriguez @ Hammersmith Apollo, London, June 8 2013 | Young & Serious

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

It’s not often that an artist plays a sold-out, 5,000 capacity venue at the age of 70. It’s even less common that an artist does this feat having only released two studio albums that, initially, sold poorly.

But, that is what Rodriguez did at Hammersmith Apollo on Friday.

Rodriguez (birth name Sixto Rodriguez) is a Detroit-born singer-songwriter who was thought to be the next Bob Dylan (a frequent comparison), but his albums sold very little on their initial release in the early 70’s.

Read more at Review – Rodriguez @ Hammersmith Apollo, London, June 8 2013 | Young & Serious.

Rodriguez – Sugar Man (RocknRolla Soundsystem Edit)

Sixto Rodríguez is an American folk musician from Detroit. His career initially proved short-lived with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s. Unbeknownst to him, however, his work became extremely successful and influential in South Africa, although there he was mistakenly rumoured to have committed suicide. The full story is reflected in the 2012 Oscar winning documentary: Searching for Sugar Man.

This retreat is done with respect to the original by RocknRolla Soundsystem and Joris Vos

A Night To Remember, 7th March 1998

From Sweet Songs To Street Songs

Rodriguez, 7th March 1998, photo: Brian Currin
Rodriguez, 7th March 1998, photo: Brian Currin

From the simplistic, yet instantly recognisable bass guitar intro of I Wonder, to the last fading echoes of Forget It, this was a show that enthralled everyone from the die-hard old fans with their balding heads and beer paunches to the new virgin devotees.

Set List 7th March 1998
Set List 7th March 1998

From sweet songs to street songs,
from bitter to beautiful,
from minor keys to metal mayhem,
from tear-jerker to tear-it-up,
from disgusting songs to rock anthems…this was truly a magic show of vast proportions.

Rodriguez has not released new material in over 25 years, he has no chart-topping singles, yet he opens to a standing ovation – and everybody sings along to all the songs.

Colin Taylor from KFM radio opened the show by shouting with great enthusiasm:
“Cape Town, put your hands together and welcome a true legend on stage – Rodriguez!”

Reuben Samuels started a slow drum beat and when Graeme Currie introduced that classic bass line (de-de de-de de-dum) the crowd went wild in instant recognition and when The Man slipped quietly onto the stage, the Velodrome stood up in adoration for this long-lost legend. I Wonder was wonderful and after the song, Rodriguez just stood and stared at the audience in awe.

Only Good For Conversation was done hard and heavy with great guitar from Willem Möller.
“..you’re so proper and so cute” sang Rodriguez with a smile in his voice.

Can’t Get Away was superb and when he started to sing the second verse again by mistake, the band supported him and the audience forgave him.

All the favourites followed with the arrangements staying very close to the originals and the crowd hanging on every word. Tonia Selley from The Pressure Cookies and Big Sky provided superb backing vocals throughout.

A highlight was the solo rendition of “A Most Disgusting Song” sung with great humour. “There’s someone here who’s almost a virgin I’m told” was met with much laughter.
And when he sang “…your government will provide the shrugs” a responsive chord was hit, even though this song was written in 1970!

Rodriguez doesn’t say much, he lets his music and words speak to us, but he did give us one message:

I want to wish you the best of luck
in everything you do,
you’re gonna do it,
you’re gonna solve it,
you’re gonna heal ’em,
you’re gonna do it

– perceptive and profound words from this poet and prophet.

And then into an absolutely incredible blues-rock version of Climb Up On My Music. Willem Möller burnt up his fretboard with a classic rock guitar solo and Russel Taylor played a jazzy-blues keyboard solo which left us breathless.

Rodriguez slipped away as the band ended the song, but soon returned to perform a 3-song encore starting with Sugar Man, then Establishment Blues and ending with the perfect show-closer Forget It with those poignant words “Thanks for your time“.

Thank you, Cape Town” sang Rodriguez.

No, thank YOU, Rodriguez – the mystery and myth may be gone, but the music and memories will live forever and the magic of that night will stay with us always.

— Brian Currin

——————————————————-

Hi Wonder!

It’s hard to type when one’s feet refuse to stay on the ground. I still keep floating around from the euphoria of seeing two awe-inspiring concerts on the weekend, both by the same ou. I’m talking of course about Rodriguez who finally performed to his many South African fans and it’s difficult to decide who was more overawed by the confrontation.

Rodriguez had not performed since 1981 and even those concerts, in Australasia, did not nearly attract the same fans as the SA concerts, so, when Rodriguez walked out onto the stage at the Bellville Velodrome, he almost staggered backwards from the roar and vibes that poured onto the stage from the first night crowd. The performance that Friday night was fine if a little patchy but no-one seemed to notice. Rodriguez forgot the odd line and on a few occasions played at a different tempo to the band, who very professionally managed to plaster over these musical cracks.

Sugar and Family
Rodriguez, Sugar and his family and Eva

The second concert on Saturday night, however, was wonderful. A far larger crowd arrived due obviously to a strong local word-of-mouth promotion. Rodriguez and his band were prepared and well-rehearsed and once again the crowd maintained a remarkable level of energetic approval and non-stop singing to each and every song. All the age groups were represented, from 60-year-olds to young children, all caught up in the magic of the moment, signifying indisputably that Rodriguez’s music has passed the test of time and is not simply a ’70s phenomenon.

The response to these concerts was repeated throughout the tour. The two concerts in Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Arena were sold out and generated the same fanatical and ecstatic reaction. One of the Durban dates was replaced by a show at the Carousel complex outside Pretoria and that too was full. There is a strong feeling that this remarkable tour could be the spark that hopefully kick-starts Rodriguez’s long overdue world-wide recognition. Through the Internet, his fans all over the world have been closely monitoring these events in South Africa and requests for tours have been received from as far afield as Australia, Canada, England and the USA. Some United States newspapers have already started making enquiries, sensing a story in all of this!

Rodriguez is a humble, intelligent and sensitive man who deserves all the recognition he will no doubt be receiving. After both the Cape Town shows, he mingled with the assorted press and fans who had lingered backstage to meet him and shook hands, hugged, spoke to and signed autographs for each and every one of them until he was satisfied that no-one had been overlooked. As they say in Yiddish, he is really a mensch!

I am still quite overwhelmed by the whole Rodriguez situation. We all believed he was dead but he most certainly wasn’t and here he was recreating his music that meant so much to so many people for so long. I will always remember singing along to all those songs that are so deeply embedded in my/our memories, but three special memories stand out for me. The first was seeing Rodriguez’s two daughters, Eva and Regan, sitting at the foot of the stage watching their father perform. Eva was a teenager when Rodriguez toured Australia and Regan was much younger. The pride and joy that radiated in their faces was quite beautiful.

The second was the guitar solo by Willem Möller that turned the band’s jammed improvised version of ‘Climb Up On My Music’ into the high(est)light of a concert packed with highlights. The third image I have is of Arno Carstens, lead singer with the Springbok Nude Girls, standing transfixed at the base of the stage watching Rodriguez perform. On his T-shirt was the simple yet ironic slogan that seemed to sum up the whole evening. It read: “Dead people are cool!”

— Stephen “Sugar” Segerman

Rodriguez Weighs Potential Third Album | Music News | Rolling Stone

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

Rodriguez, the obscure Detroit songman who unknowingly earned a huge cult audience overseas, will meet with producers to discuss making a third album, his first in more than 40 years. Though adamant about having no specific plan, Rodriguez tells Rolling Stone that once he breaks from touring in June he will explore the prospect with Steve Rowland, who produced one of the lost albums resurrected in the Oscar-nominated documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

“He told me to send him a couple of tapes, so I’m gonna do that,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview from his Michigan home on Friday. “I certainly want to look him up, because now he’s full of ideas.”

via Rodriguez Weighs Potential Third Album | Music News | Rolling Stone.

‘Sugar Man’ Star Rodriguez Headed to Coachella, Glastonbury | Billboard

Q&A With Singer and the Director of Oscar-Nominated ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

Rodriguez, the singer whose story is at the heart of Malik Bendjelloul’s Oscar-nominated “Searching for Sugar Man,” has festival dates lined up at Coachella, Glastonbury and Primavera in Spain that will follow tours of South Africa and Australia.

The new dates are part of astonishing rediscovery of Rodriguez, now 70, who made two albums for Clarence Avant’s Sussex label in the early 1970s that were flops everywhere except in South Africa where his legend grew along with his record sales. Bendjelloul’s film, which Sony is releasing on DVD Jan. 22, chronicles the myths and realities of Rodriguez’s story and his 1998 concerts in South Africa.

via ‘Sugar Man’ Star Rodriguez Headed to Coachella, Glastonbury | Billboard.

The Complete Rodriguez Collection | George “Fuzzy” Fazakas

George “Fuzzy” Fazakas has compiled his idea for a complete Rodriguez box set.

CD1
1)  I’ll slip away (1967 single version)
2)  You’d like to admit it (1967 b-side single version)
3)  Cold Fact
4)  After the Fact / Coming from Reality

CD2
1) I’ll slip away 1972/3
2)  Street Boy 1972/3
3)  Can’t Get away
4)  Live Fact (1998 South African tour)
CD3
1)  Alive (1979 Australian tour, released 1981)
2)  You’d like to admit it (live 2012 sept. 2 Northhampton)
3)  Last Request (Paolo Nutini song) (live 2012 sept. 2 Northhampton)
4)  Live at the Roundhouse November 2012 (You’d Like to admit it – with full band, Like a Rolling Stone, Fever, etc)
5) I’m Gonna Live Till I Die (Frank Sinatra cover) (Live At The Triple Door, Seattle – June 23, 2009)

‘Searching for Sugar Man’ Star Rodriguez to Play Coachella, Glastonbury – Hollywood Reporter

The formerly reclusive troubadour will headline two of the world’s biggest music festivals in the coming months.

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

Singer-songwriter Rodriguez, the breakout star of award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, will perform at two of this year’s biggest music festivals: April’s Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, held in Indio, Calif., over two weekends, as well as the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival, which takes place June 26 – 30 near Pilton, Somerset and attracts some 135,000 attendees.

via ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ Star Rodriguez to Play Coachella, Glastonbury – Hollywood Reporter.

Best Album Reissues of 2012: Rodriguez, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ | Rolling Stone

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man

The reissue of the year is the soundtrack to one of the most compelling music documentaries ever made, about a comeback so improbable it seems like fiction. Searching for Sugar Man follows two South African fans as they solve the mystery of the Hispanic, Detroit-born singer-songwriter Rodriguez: a charismatic phantom who vanished into working-life obscurity after his quietly urgent, elegant-R&B classics, 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming From Reality, crashed on release in the U.S. (They were Springsteen-size smashes in South Africa, though Rodriguez never saw a dime.)

The soundtrack combines the best tracks from those LPs in a greatest-hits display of Rodriguez’s supple Dylanesque voice; his fluid, lyric swing between sympathy, need and righteous candor in “Sugar Man,” “I Wonder” and “I Think of You”; and the music’s unhurried, funky delicacy. You can get the original records in full, reissued by Light in the Attic. But the Sugar Man album is a precise introduction to a gentle genius who is still here (now 70), still singing, and finally reaching the audience he always deserved.

via Best Album Reissues of 2012: Rodriguez, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ | Rolling Stone.

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