February 28, 2008

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The brand new same old Ani
Ani DiFranco returns to Concord, this time in full voice
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

Ani DiFranco plays at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord this Thursday, Feb. 28. The show was rescheduled from Jan. 21, when she cancelled because of laryngitis.

DiFrancoís double-album career retrospective, Canon, spans her work from 1990 to 2007. Sheís working on a new album, which is taking longer than usual as sheís attending to her year-old daughter.

When you travel and tour ... how does the audience differ in different places?
I think folks are more the same than they are different. People are people. Thereís definitely general characters to audiences, especially when you go country to country, you can taste those different flavors. The spirit in a crowd has a lot do with ... is it winter or is it spring? What is the energy in the air? Whatís going on in society?

What was it like to do foreign shows after doing the United States circuit for so long?
It definitely was a pleasant surprise to do shows in Europe. ... In the United States thereís been so many years [of] my music being dubbed girl music for girls. There is a certain type of audience that feels invited through that media to come to the shows, whereas in Europe it will be male, female, of all different ages, and almost like a jazz-listening audience. They pick up on all kinds of musical things that feel like they go by in the United States. I feel much more like a musician in Europe. But the difference a mountain range will make ... youíll be playing in Switzerland and everybody will be quiet and uptight. And then you cross into Italy and the audience just goes nuts. Theyíre full of passion and vigor.

On your MySpace page you have a quote by the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. Itís the only thing ... in a language other than English. Do you know what it says?
That MySpace is not really my space. I have no idea what that could mean.

Youíre playing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival this summer. Do you have a mean G-run? Do you have a whole different style for the show?
No, I just play my songs. That festival, like many festivals ... theyíre very broad, open types of gatherings.... I just go do my thing. ... I love going up there to Telluride and listening to banjos, Iíll tell you what.

You were quoted in a Newsweek article saying that youíre feeling a little bit constipated as a songwriter, as it was a challenge to get deep into songwriting after you had your child. Is it becoming any easier?
Not really.... The mothering gig is still full-time. I find that writing suffers the most. ... You need a lot of head space, and thatís hard to find with a toddler in your life. But ... Iím at a point in my life where I welcome the slowing down in my work. I thank her for that.

As you put together your retrospective, did ... you look to ... the future?
...I got this general impression that I think I sounded most like myself during the eras when I was pretty happy and hopeful. A little later on, I got tired and overwhelmed and melancholy in my personal life, and listening back to myself ... I really liked the sound of myself singing when I was younger and more unfettered. It taught me that a really important thing is where Iím singing from ... where my spirit is at. I need to attend to that first and better music will come out as a result. ... I do feel much happier these days. I feel more like the Ani 10 years ago than three years ago. Iím conscious of that as Iím making this new record: is my spirit embodied in my voice right now?

And is your spirit with your voice?
Yes. Yes, thanks to my dear lover and my kid, who both make me really happy in a way Iíve never been. Iím fully in my body once again.


Ani DiFranco performs at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Courtesy photo by Danny Clinch.

Ani Difranco
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St., Concord.
When: Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7:30
Tickets: $40
More info: www.ccanh.com or 225-1111.