Presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust
Sat, May 17, 2014 at 8:00pm
$39.00 to $69.00
Rodriguez, the resurgent maverick singer/songwriter and cult enigma once called Detroit's answer to Bob Dylan via Motown and Bacharach, will perform his newly popular folk-rock ballads at the State Theatre. Recently rescued from obscurity by stalwart fans and the 2012 “Searching for Sugar Man” Academy-Award winning documentary, Rodriguez has gained long overdue worldwide recognition.
While his first and only two original albums went mostly unnoticed in the U.S. during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, unbeknownst to Rodriquez they had emerged as underground classics during Apartheid in South Africa. His debut 1970 release, Cold Fact, became a sensation there, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and joining the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones in the music collections of every musically literate Cape Town resident. Much later, the Motor City folk-rocker was rediscovered alive and well by two South African fans who had gone on a quest to solve the mysterious fate of one of their most beloved artists, a story which prompted the documentary.
Rodriguez was born in Detroit in 1942 to a working-class background. He was playing assorted unconventional clubs when he was discovered by Harry Balk, who later became Motown’s creative director. Balk helped him record his first single “I'll Slip Away” in 1967 and his supporters, session players Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, then brought him to Clarence Avant, founder of the Sussex label. Avant made it possible for Rodriguez to record Cold Fact, (also Sussex' first release) which was dubbed a “stone-cold folk-rock classic with an otherworldly feel to it.” Despite high expectations, the album didn’t take off in the U.S. And when his second release, 1971's Coming from Reality, met the same fate, Rodriguez left the music business to work construction and study.
Since his rediscovery, Rodriquez has played halls in Europe, Australia, South Africa and North America including New York’s Radio City Music Hall. He sold out St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theatre last May and has also garnered airplay on such local stations as The Current with “I Wonder,” a single which gained particular attention after it was covered by Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard and singer-songwriter Ruby Amanfu. The reclusive and humble Rodriguez still lives modestly in Detroit.