Sixto Rodriguez (Sugar Man) & Kopecky Family Band – Worthy of a Listen Essay

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a music article, so I’m going to hit you today with a “Worthy of a listen” summer edition post. We’ve got three options for you – everything from the massively popular to the massively obscure.

Rodriguez Searching for Sugar Man soundtrack – Sixto Rodriguez is a folk musician out of Detroit who released two studio albums – one in 1970 and the other in 1971. Neither album was received well in the US, his record label folded, and he moved on to a life spent on the poverty line working a slew of manual labor jobs and spending significant stints of time living on the streets.

Little did Rodriquez know, his first album in particular was eventually discovered and circulated heavily in both Australia and South Africa. He would go platinum in South Africa without even knowing it, until his daughter discovered as much in 1996 when she discovered a website started by some of his South African fans trying to figure out what had happened to him. It was widely popularized that he had committed suicide after a concert in the mid 1970s, but the story had never been proven true.

Rodriguez would eventually connect to the fans who sought him out, tour in both South Africa and Australia, and reached international fame when the documentary Searching for Sugar Man and it’s soundtrack came out in 2012. Rodriguez has since played on Letterman, Leno, and was highlighted on 60 minutes.

His sound is a folksy mix of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, and Led Zeppelin. I’d start by checking out the Searching for Sugar Man soundtrack – start with the tracks: Sugar Man, Crucify Your Mind, Cause, I Wonder, Can’t Get Away, Streetboy.

Kopecky Family Band – I was invited to see the Kopecky Family Band play this past weekend at a small venue on the beach here in San Diego. There were at most a couple of hundred fans present despite the fantastic venue (the Kona Kai Resort and Marina), and to say the least I had no expectations for the show.

Despite hailing for Nashville, this band doesn’t sound a lick like country (hallelujah!). They are again a bit folksy, ultimately sounding like a hybrid of Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Florence and the Machine, and Foster the People. This is a band without an identity crisis – they mix up the pace and sound, but don’t stray too much from the sound that is absolutely “them.” There’s a male and a female lead, both of whom have exceptionally good voices, and the band is skilled throughout (most of them on multiple instruments). It was one of those concerts where you can’t help but think of all the other bands that don’t have 2% of the talent these guys have yet have made it bigger than them.

Most impressively, they played an entire concert without playing a song I didn’t like, which is saying a lot. Check out their song A Casualty (on the slower side) – if Coldplay wrote this song it would be a mega hit.

Avicci Wake Me Up – You know this one. The mix of country and techno just works. If it wasn’t by Avicii you’d love it.

Happy listening.

High School
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