Dave Matthews Sings Sixto Rodriguez’s Praises During Concert: ‘He Was

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Dave Matthews has done so much musically during the past 30-plus years that you take notice when he calls something  “a highlight of my life.”

That took place on Tuesday, June 21, when Matthews and his band were in suburban Detroit for a concert at the Pine Knob Music Theatre. Prior to the show, he met with Sixto Rodriguez, the enigmatic Detroit singer-songwriter who was the subject of the Academy Award-winning 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Matthews explained to the hometown crowd that Rodriguez, who attended the show, was “one of my heroes growing up” in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Preceding a stripped-down rendition of Rodriguez’s “Sugar Man,” Matthews – who has paid tribute to Rodriguez during other shows over the years — said, “Y’know how when you’re in high school there’s music that means the world to you sometimes, and there’s a few different artists that I grew up on, and one of those artists was this person from Detroit … I may have told you this before, maybe you saw a movie about it. What I discovered when I came back here, came back to the States, nobody heard of this guy, or not many people. It was kind of insane.


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“I remember a friend of mine was playing some music, I think it was Tracy Chapman, and he played it and I said, ‘Y’know, that reminds me of Rodriguez.’ And they said, ‘Who?’ I said, ‘Rodriguez.’ They said, ‘Never heard of him,’” Matthews continued. “So I went around the restaurant and said, ‘Hey, you’ve heard of Rodriguez. Tell ’em about Rodriguez.’ ‘Who? The baseball player?’ I said, ‘No, the songwriter!’

“I mean, he was as important to me as Bob Dylan, as Cat Stevens, as Marvin Gaye, and all these people never heard of him? I was like, ‘What is happening?! I’m losing my mind!’” he added. “Anyway, I got to meet him today, and it was a highlight of my life, and I’m gonna play this song for him. I love you. Thank you very much, my new friend Rodriguez.”

After playing “Sugar Man,” Matthews advised the Pine Knob crowd that “if you want to find some new music that’s not so new, you should go out and buy Cold Fact,” Rodriguez’s 1970 debut album.

Matthews’ experience with Rodriguez is similar to other music fans in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, where audiences had discovered the now 79-year-old artist well before Searching For Sugar Man raised his profile worldwide. He’s released just two studio album, Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming From Reality, in addition to some live albums and compilations, as well as the documentary’s soundtrack. The two original albums were reissued during 2012, along with the film.

Watch the artist discuss Rodriguez during his concert below:

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