Caffe Lena to host folk singer Ani Difranco at Zankel

Posted by Alex Brehm

Ani DiFranco is Joan Baez, Joan Jett and Betty Freidan all rolled into one. The singer-songwriter has created a small indie recording empire, Righteous Babe, featuring talent such as Toshi Regan, Andrew Bird and Buddy Wakefield. She is famous as a deeply intelligent lyricist, talented musician and passionate political activist.

In a concert featured by Caffé Lena, DiFranco will play in Zankel Music Center on Sun., Sept. 26.

 DiFranco writes poetic lyrics in an often punctuated, alliterative style. Her guitar work is similarly staccato and twangy, and her recording uses a wide range of instruments. Her arrangements often feature marimba, whistling, exotic percussion and dark, ambient recording effects. Her recent album "Red Letter Year" features clear electronica influences.

Skidmore student Fortunato De Sousa '11 praises DiFranco's "lyric" style. "It's very smooth, you know, from the heart," De Sousa said.

DiFranco writes confidently about political topics, advancing issues of gender and orientation bias in her songs, and describing rape, racism and war. More recently, she has written songs inspired by religion and by becoming a mother. "November 4th, 2008" is dedicated to President Barack Obama's election. DiFranco's personal history of challenging traditional gender roles and identification as bisexual made her a figure of the queer pride and rights movement.

Folk singer-songwriter Erin McKeown will open for DiFranco. In 1998 McKeown performed at Queerstock, a music festival that promoted LGBT musicians. McKeown's style is a swing-rock she says is influenced by, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." McKeown is known for her energetic stage presence and eccentric dress.

The historic Caffé Lena is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This is not the first time the café has featured a joint concert with Skidmore College. As part of anniversary celebrations at the beginning of the summer, Arlo Guthrie played in Zankel Music Center.

DiFranco will begin performing at 7 p.m. Students can buy tickets on brownpapertickets.com for $15.

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