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Rodriguez playing Joe’s Pub; documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ playing in Tribeca Film Fest

by Bill Pearis

Rodriguez

It’s a good week for fans of early ’70s cult artist Rodriguez, as he plays a rare show at Joe’s Pub Wednesday night (4/25), his first visit to NYC since 2009 December 2011 when he opened for Charles Bradley at Bowery Ballroom.

He’s here as the acclaimed Rodriguez documentary Searching for Sugar Man, screens at the Tribeca Film Festival this week: tonight (4/24, 9:30PM) at the BMCC Tribeca PAC and then Friday (4/27, 6PM) at the Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 7. Tickets are still available to both screenings. The synopsis:

Aspiring ’70s folk rock musician Rodriguez never made it big. Despite critical praise, his albums bombed in the U.S., and he faded promptly into obscurity, leaving behind only urban legends of a gruesome onstage suicide. But somehow a bootleg copy of his album made its way to apartheid South Africa, where his antiestablishment message and distinctive sound resonated with the youth protest movement there, making Rodriguez an instant superstar. Decades later, two intrepid fans decide to investigate whatever happened to the mysterious rocker. While initially frustrated by a dearth of leads, they eventually trace his roots to 1970s Detroit and a producer named Mike Theodore, who drops a bombshell that completely changes the nature of their investigation.

Truly stranger than fiction, this story of a Mexican-American folk singer from Detroit and his unforeseen success spans decades and continents, and is aptly unraveled to the soundtrack of Rodriguez’ own haunting original songs. Ultimately the fans uncover a convoluted and unbelievable true story of success, obscurity, politics, and the power of music itself.

If you can’t make this week’s Tribeca Film Festival screenings, Searching for Sugar Man opens in NY and LA on July 27, with more cities to follow. Light in the Attic reissued both of Rodriguez’ albums — 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming from Reality — and you can stream them via Spotify. Rodriguez’ 2009 tour found him backed by members of Reigning Sound and the Fresh & Onlys. Not sure who, if anyone, is playing with him for this Joe’s Pub show on Wednesday.

Other music films in this year Tribeca Film Festival include Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey and a film about John Forte who also played a NYC show in conjunction with his film (at Bowery Ballroom on Sunday).

Click through for clips from Search for Sugar Man plus live performance footage from his 2009 tour.

Searching for Sugar Man clip

Searching for Sugar Man clip

Rodriguez – “Sugar Man” (Live on KEXP)

Rodriguez – “Inner City Blues” (Live on KEXP)

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