Back in the early 1970s, a Mexican-American singer-songwriter named Sixto Rodriguez recorded two fascinating psych-folk discs chronicling the underbelly of urban America. Not surprisingly, the albums disappeared almost immediately — except in South Africa and Australia, where, over the next 25 years, they went multiplatinum and raised Rodriguez to the level of folk hero. No one bothered to tell the Detroit native of his fame, however, and he went along with his life, trying out local politics, philosophy, and factory work. (During this time, there were rumors that he'd been killed in prison or died in an onstage fire.) After Rodriguez was uncovered in Motown in 1996, he embarked on a giant tour of South Africa. Last year, he played his first ever San Francisco show, following the reissue of his debut LP, Cold Fact. Now, on the heels of the rerelease of 1971's Coming from Reality, he's returning with a backup band featuring members of locals the Fresh & Onlys, and although Coming has a few too many sappy ballads, it's still ripe with vivid, lacerating lyrics and blazingly fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Local residents can finally discover (thanks to the stellar bookers and producers of (((folkYEAH!)))) what the people of South Africa have known for decades: Rodriguez is a marvelous amalgam of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Arthur Lee.
Fool's Gold and Sam Flax & Higher Color open.
Fri., June 26, 9 p.m., 2009