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Ani DiFranco on Mountain Stage

Ani DiFranco performs on <em>Mountain Stage</em>.
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage
Ani DiFranco performs on Mountain Stage.

Mentored by folk legends Pete Seeger and Utah Phillips, Ani DiFranco has carved out a special place in modern acoustic music, plowing her own path through a vibrant life as a musician, poet, author, social activist, and label owner.

DiFranco made her seventh appearance on Mountain Stage at The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, W.Va.

Host Kathy Mattea said they were honored to welcome back DiFranco, who came with insights from her 22nd album, Revolutionary Love, a folky blend of indie rock, reggae and R&B fresh cut in only two days with co-producer Brad Cook of Hiss Golden Messenger, who's also worked with Bon Iver, War on Drugs and The Mountain Goats.

"I am struck at how committed she is in keeping her eyes on the light, even through what seems like blinding darkness," Mattea said of the pandemic-recorded album.

Known for alternative tunings and rhythms, DiFranco dove into the hypnotic melody of "When It's Done," and followed it with her urgent plea to save voting rights and democracy on "Do or Die." "We can do this if we try. / If we do this like it's do or die," sang DiFranco, accompanied by drummer Terence Higgins and bassist Todd Sickafoose.

"Pandemics are something else, again, but they really make things clear, don't they?" DiFranco said "Like music is something. I just was sitting up there with all of this miraculous music going on down here and was thinking, what the hell, people write songs and sing them for each other and invent instruments and play them."

Before pulling out one of her signature songs, "In and Out," from what she called "the crypt," and sending it out to Dar Williams, DiFranco gave love to Mountain Stage for being one of the first outlets to believe in her music.

"I wrote it in 1992 or 1993, coincidentally 1992 was the first time I played Mountain Stage, and man what a joy to be a cousin in the Mountain Stage family," DiFranco said. "I mean, bringing the little shaved-headed 1992 Ani D. up here was not something a lot of people were doing at the time, so thank you Mountain Stage for all the support."

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Dave Lavender