Friday, May 17, 2013

"Searching For Sugar Man" - An Unbelievable Story

By now everyone has heard about "Searching for Sugar Man". The documentary came out last year and even won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. After hearing about it and reading every article related to it, I have been wanting to see this movie for what seems like years. The other night I finally saw what all the hype was about.

"Searching for Sugar Man" chronicles the unbelievable story of how Sixto Rodriguez, of Detroit, was an amazing musician, but just didn't make it at all in the United States. However, he was as big as the Beatles, even bigger than the Rolling Stones according to some, in South Africa. To make it even crazier, everyone across the Atlantic thought that Rodriguez had committed suicide on stage in the middle of a concert years ago. Everyone there thought he was dead, but they kept on listening to his music and had no idea that he was actually living an extremely modest life right here in Detroit.

A couple of guys in South Africa decided to figure out where Rodriguez came from because he was surrounded in mystery. They idolized this guy and had no idea where he was even from! After a lot of investigating they finally found his daughter via a website about their search. This of course led to them discovering that their idol was actually alive. Rodriguez ended up going to South Africa and played sold out shows in stadiums and arenas in the 90's, then coming back to Detroit where no one had any idea who he was.

I knew most of the story before sitting down to watch the movie (and hopefully you did before reading this), but no matter how many times you hear it, this story is still insane. It doesn't sound like it could be real, but this is Detroit and it seems like unbelievable things are always happening here! The movie is done incredibly well and does a great job of telling the story. The only parts that I didn't like that much were a couple of the weird animation/transition things, but they are fairly insignificant in comparison to the rest of the movie. Everyone should watch it and then proceed to listen to the music. It really is an amazing story. I know I'm just gushing now, but it's not often that you come across a story like this.

Rodriguez still lives in the same house that he's lived in for 40 years in Detroit. Despite his new found fame he is still living quite modestly, giving most of his money away to family and friends. This is an extremely talented man that never got any recognition until recent years and seems to be the most grounded person you can imagine. He wouldn't even go to the Oscar's when the movie about his life won because he didn't want the focus to be on him!

I am happy that he is finally receiving some sort of fame now, because his version of folk-rock really is great. Some of it seems familiar, but I doubt I heard it so I might just be crazy. If you were smart enough to buy a ticket months ago to see Rodriguez play at the Masonic Temple tomorrow (Saturday, May 18), you are lucky! He has been on tour this whole year and is continuing on through the year all over the world.

If you are like me and not lucky enough to get to see him live tomorrow night, try renting or buying "Searching for Sugar Man". It's a really moving movie that has jump started a Detroit musicians career and changed history. Rodriguez does have one more Michigan date on June 22 at the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival. So you can make the drive up there to see him, but hopefully he'll start playing regularly in Detroit and we can all catch this legend live on stage! If you're interested in learning more about Rodriguez because the story does not stop where the movie ends, you can visit his website here.


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