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When she appears at the Stephen Talkhouse this Sunday, DiFranco will be joined by her drummer, Andy Stochansky. In some shows, a long drum solo allows DiFranco to crowd-surf, stage dive, and mosh. And I swear it's folk music. And like the best folk, DiFranco tackles big issues in an un-preachy way. In "Out of Range," for example, she sings, "I was shocked/To see the mistakes of each generation/Will just fade like a radio station/If you drive out of range."
For her part, DiFranco runs from nothing. The day after Bill Clinton's recent State of the Union blab, she tells me what America needs in the way of leadership: "We need a queen, absolutely." When she finishes chuckling, she continues, "What I'd do, the way I see it, is that it's all based on storytelling. It's important to hear other sides of this big story we're all living. Many stories aren't told on TV or in the president's State of the Union or history books or on the radio. So I think anyone who feels they can't hear themselves, can't see themselves, well, you have to insert yourself, shove yourself in. It's a political act just to make noise. That's a good first step. The vocabulary of stories is expanded by that. And you may even influence people when it's time to make laws or legislation. You never know."
She makes these thoughts musical on Out of Range's "Face Up and Sing": "It's nice that you listen/It'd be nicer if you joined in/As long as you play their game, girl/You're never going to win." Hers isn't so much a do something attitude as it is say something.
Not that DiFranco herself doesn't do plenty as well. But despite all that extensive touring, this is her first visit to South Florida, her first look at trendy, superficial South Beach. I inform her that, who knows, maybe Madonna will show up at the Talkhouse. Laughing, she says, "I'll try not to throw up."
Ani DiFranco performs at 9:00 p.m. Sunday at the Stephen Talkhouse, 616 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 531-7557. Admission costs ten dollars.