IF YOU GO
What: Ani DiDranco in concert, with opener Andrea Gibson.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1.
Where: Keswick Theatre, 291 Keswick Ave., Glenside.
Info.: (215) 572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
After urging citizens to vote during 2016’s “Vote Dammit” Tour, Ani DiFranco is back on the road urging those around her to connect with each other and work for change with the “Rise Up” Tour.
An upcoming tour stop includes the Keswick Theatre on Oct. 1 along with spoken word artist/poet Andrea Gibson. In a phone interview the day before her 47th birthday, DiFranco described Gibson as someone “that’s always been political ... and uses her words to challenge what we’re all told.”
The theme of the singer/songwriter, guitarist, activist and poet’s 20th and latest album, “Binary,” is that “while we’re going through uncharted territory politically (and) socially speaking ... like any binary system, equal and opposite forces are at play. Everything is at least two things in relation to each other. The universe is a panorama of relationships,” and therefore we should turn away from the glowing screens and face each other.
With “Rise Up” as the theme of the tour, DiFranco is partnering with progressive online advocacy site Care2 to inspire fans to learn how to take action. “The ‘Vote Dammit’ thing still applies,” DiFranco said.
A 2012 Ani DiFranco concert at the Keswick happens to be available as an “official bootleg” at www.anidifranco.com. When asked why people should still come see her live when there are many recordings of her concerts that are available, DiFranco replied that the full sensory experience of being at a show, and the social act of going to a concert, are part of “the joy of being alive.”
“Music is incredibly unifying for people, incredibly motivating,” she said, adding that she regards herself as a working musician, rather than “someone who makes albums and promotes them.” In 1990 DiFranco formed her own record label, Righteous Babe Records. As she emerged as “indie girl USA,” and the attendance at her concerts couldn’t be ignored, major labels came courting. It defied ‘you jump on it, girl’ conventional wisdom, but “I felt that what I should be doing is making revolutionary art ... now I’m the envy of many,” she laughed.
Though taking the artistic high road, remaining independent, and building an audience slowly and organically now seems like it was the right thing to do all along, DiFranco confessed she questioned that decision each time “some chick would be opening up for me at a bar; then the next thing she’s got a record deal and on the covers of magazines. Then there I am at that same bar.”
Such is the life of a fiercely outspoken Righteous Babe.