It is a testament to the utter evaporation of the troubadour Sixto Rodriguez that a documentary which chronicles his 1998 concert jaunt of South Africa is called Dead Man Don't Tour . And that title is true - you need only to show up at Harbourfront Centre tomorrow evening to verify that the long-lost topical singer-songwriter is completely non-deceased. Rodriguez plays at 8 p.m. during a Hot Spot Festival headlined by stars King Sunny Ade (Saturday, 6 p.m.) and Nigerian Afrobeat dynamo Femi Kuti (Saturday, 9 p.m.).
A very long time ago Rodriguez, the "Latin Bob Dylan," released Cold Fact and Coming from Reality , a pair of era-indicative albums from the early 1970s that were appreciated for their caustic commentary and psychedelic folk-blues, but they failed to sell. The Detroit-based artist, notorious for performing onstage without facing his audience, soon turned his back on the music business, involving himself in such occupations as hard labour and local politics.
Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, his music found an audience in South Africa, where young members of a conscripted army found much to like about the mysterious folk singer. Word slowly spread; a South African super-fan eventually tracked Rodriguez down; the big tour of South Africa happened in 1998.
California-based label Light in the Attic recently rereleased Cold Fact , an album that should make its mark with today's psych-folk crowd. Rodriguez never died, then. In fact, he's never been more alive.
Rodriguez plays the free Hot Spot Festival Friday, 8 p.m., Sirius Satellite Radio Stage, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.
The film Dead Men Don't Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998, is screened Saturday, 2 p.m., at Studio Theatre.