Tour news: Sugar Man on his way

Sixto Rodriguez. Photo / Supplied
Sixto Rodriguez. Photo / Supplied

Sixto Rodriguez, the Mexican-American singer-songwriter who is enjoying a renaissance more than 40 years after releasing his two and only albums, will play New Zealand for the first time in March.

He plays the Wellington Opera House on March 16 and Auckland's Logan Campbell Centre on March 17.

Better known as Rodriguez, the Detroit native recorded his tough folk rock debut Cold Fact in 1970 - which included his best-known song, Sugar Man - and follow-up Coming From Reality in 1971, but they never took off in his homeland. Following this lack of interest in his music he went back to renovation and restoration work to support his family, and even ran for the mayor of Detroit at one stage, while still continuing to perform on the side.

However, Rodriguez' songs took hold in New Zealand, Australia, and especially in South Africa where they struck a chord at a time when many people were agitating against the apartheid regime.

It was in South Africa that many of the myths about his so-called plunge into obscurity were created, including the story that he set himself on fire during a show in the early 70s.

In 2009 both of his albums were reissued by Seattle record label Light in the Attic and last year he reached an even wider audience following the documentary Searching For Sugar Man, which follows two South African fans on a quest to find out what happened to Rodriguez.

When TimeOut talked to him in October, around the time the documentary was opening in cinemas, the 70-year-old was diplomatic when it was put to him that perhaps America wasn't ready for a Mexican Bob Dylan back in the early 70s.

"I chose the folk song as a genre in music to talk about this social realism. There was a lot of turbulence in America. The Vietnam War. There were a lot of things happening. Change. There were riots [referring to Detroit's infamous 12th Street Riot in July 1967]. Those were the Nixon years, and they appointed who was head of the communications division, and they were the ones who decided what the radio did, and I discussed things that were more political rather than the boy-girl stuff."

He was also chuffed about playing 3000-seat venues in Britain and how his life has changed in recent years. "Oh totally. I'm able to get room service. You know, that kind of thing," he joked.

Tickets on sale from Ticketek January 29.

The voice of Yes

First came Yes the band, then the 70s prog rock survivors' most famous keyboard player, Rick Wakeman, and now the band's original singer is on his way to New Zealand.

Jon Anderson, who left Yes in 2004, will perform a solo show dubbed An Intimate Evening with ... and will include classic tales from his days with the band, his subsequent career as well as performances of songs from the Yes songbook and his own eclectic solo works. It will be similar in format to Wakeman's entertaining Auckland show in October.

The venues and dates for Anderson's solo show were yet to be confirmed when TimeOut went to print but he will tour here off the back of his Australian solo dates and Byron Bay Bluesfest appearances at the end of March and beginning of April.

Anderson was central to Yes' success during their 70s heyday penning tracks like Close to the Edge, Awaken, and The Gates of Delirium, and he co-wrote the likes of hammering epic Heart of the Sunrise off 1971 classic Fragile and 80s hit - and arguably the band's best known song - Owner Of a Lonely Heart. Yes, with latest singer Jon Davison, played Vector Arena in April last year.

Meanwhile, in other tour news the Blind Boys of Alabama will support Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters in April.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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