And you think I'm curious: Rodriguez live in Johannesburg - Times LIVE
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And you think I'm curious: Rodriguez live in Johannesburg

Nikita Ramkissoon | 2013-02-13 11:52:54.0
Sixto Rodriguez performs live at Carnival City in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Feburary 12, 2013.
Image by: Nikita Ramkissoon / Times LIVE

I thought he was up there, as famous and revered as Dylan and The Beatles.

When I saw Rodriguez live in 1998, I jammed with my dad to old favourites like Gomorrah (A Nursary Rhyme), Jane S. Piddy and the legendary Sugarman, not knowing his story.

Debunked by Searching for Sugar Man, his newfound fame has shot this very deserving, talented man into the spotlight.

I can’t help but feel, even after the concert, that the music has become a sideline and it’s about him more than anything for some people and it’s a craze that will pass – like the woman who shouted ‘Just play Sugarman Rodriguez!’ – But then that’s human nature. Fads come and go. But the music and the man will stay with the true fans forever.

Sixto Rodriguez, whose music I grew up with alongside Janis Joplin kicked off his almost week-long Johannesburg concert leg last night at Carnival City and the man, at 70 years old, did not disappoint.

A bit more wrinkled than I remember, he stood on stage in a coat a scarf, hat and sunglasses, wielding a guitar like he was 20 again.

Smooth and soft, he doesn’t need to say much. He speaks with his music. His voice a bit rougher around the edges than on the scratchy recordings of Cold Fact and Coming from Reality that we have at home.

He performs with ease, but he stops between songs, as if to rehearse. I don’t know if he’s not used to stage performances or what. But his super-cool band just runs with it.

Even the over-suave guitarist who looks as if you could ice-skate on his Brylcreem.

Rodriguez is smooth, and nothing fazes him. He speaks softly, in a light, slow manner. Slowly sipping his water, and occasionally something from a teacup – what, I don’t know.

Someone shouts: “Sixto, you’re sexy!”

He says: “I’m sure that’s the drinks, but keep talking,” with a wicked smile.

He interludes his legendary tracks with lame jokes. I facepalm. Everyone else is in stitches. I’m not sure if everyone is humouring him just because it’s him. I think he’s just being silly because he can.

In between his original greats, he covers songs from the ‘70s I don’t recognise. His talent is so undeniable.  Dammit, world. What is your excuse?

I can’t believe the US did not see this man; did not recognise his talent. For whatever reason (and I have my theory as to why, don’t you worry.)

It’s beyond me that an entire nation, let alone the world could, for his entire life, ignore Rodriguez and his insane talent.

From Sugarman (which I honestly believe is not his best song) to This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues, from my favourite Crucify Your Mind, to Rich Folks Hoax and even a cover of Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, Rodriguez poured his heart and soul out of his voice and guitar, like he should have been doing his whole life.

With a grin and a wave, he was escorted off the stage by I assume a granddaughter.

I think this is the last live show we will see of his.

But I will be playing his music for my children and my grandchildren. It’s through his music Rodriguez will be immortal.

And I will be eternally grateful I got the chance to experience this, to tell my kids that there was this man that history ignored who was finally given some limelight, even though it was nowhere near enough.


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