Ani DiFranco at Culture Room on October 20

Ani DiFranco had all the things you were supposed to have in the 1990s: white-girl dreads, a huge nose ring, a shaved head, bisexual tales, spoken-word poems. Though for some this was all a little too feminazi, for the patchouli wearers and Rage Against the Machine fans, she was cooler than cool; she was legitimately an independent woman. DiFranco was also brave. When she launched Righteous Babe Records, she was one of the first artists to run her own label. Rape, abortion, politics — she never shied from the controversial, and DiFranco's rapport with her audience was sincere and intense and real. Gays and women, we all felt loved by the beautiful Buffalo-bred babe. But it was her music with which we all connected. Lyrics like "Fuck you and your untouchable face" got us through the ugliest breakups. Now, she's married and a mom, but she still manages to charm her fans. Her newest studio album, ¿Which Side Are You On?, is her 17th and even features vocals and banjo action from Pete Seeger, the man who originally popularized that tune.


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