Music Scene

Ani DiFranco

She’s been called an activist and a radical, been reduced to an angry feminist and been championed as an advocate for women’s rights. She’s been called a folk singer, a punk, a hippie, a pacifist and a scrapper. But Ani DiFranco herself has never paid much attention to labels. She’s spent her 25-year career working to dodge them, in fact, choosing instead to let her songs speak for themselves.

She works to define folk music as an attitude — a resistance to the silence from corporate music on social issues — rather than a specific music genre, whether it be a welding of punk, hip-hop, country, blues, rock or otherwise to form the framework of folk’s purpose.

DiFranco has become nearly as well known as a social activist as she has a musician, helping to raise funds and awareness for disaster relief and political and social causes throughout her career, as well as producing 18 studio albums that have garnered nine Grammy nominations collectively and career-long critical praise.

DiFranco recorded her latest album, “Allergic to Water,” last year in her adopted home city of New Orleans, and features New Orleans-based music fixtures Terence Higgins (Dr. John, The Meters, Robert Randolph, Widespread Panic, Fats Domino), Mike Dillon (Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Marco Benevento), Matt Perrine (Eric Clapton, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Florence and the Machine, Bruce Hornsby) and Ivan Neville.

Ani DiFranco will perform Sunday at the Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St., with That 1 Guy. Tickets are $39.50 for orchestra seating and $29.50 for the gallery and are available at the Music Hall box office or online at Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m.

There was a time when the term “indie rock” wasn’t so cliche, a beginning when the sound was hard to categorize and even harder to explain. As the genre swelled and divisions formed, every band that is now lighter than heavy, heavier than pop and weirder than radio is slackly tossed into the familiar indie-rock bucket, for better or for worse.

But Built to Spill is a reminder of indie-rock’s roots, standing humbly among the crowd as a seminal band that came before the proverbial label-maker so widely stamped the genre into the kind of obscurity that now defies its own meaning.

The Boise, Idaho-based band formed in 1992 during the reign of grunge in the rock mainstream, and just slightly before the takeover of neo-metal and pop punk. Close enough to Seattle and Portland to feel their influences yet remote and pristine enough not to be interrupted or strangled by them, Boise offered Built to Spill co-founder, vocalist/guitarist and lead songwriter Doug Martsch and bandmates the perfect location to develop an alternative sound with a safe distance from redundancy.

The band released its first studio album in six years last month to wide critical acclaim. The album marks the band’s seventh album with its label Warner Bros. Records, who Martsch signed the band to in 1995 after agreeing to less royalties in exchange for the label covering recording costs and relinquishing creative control over the band’s material.

Built to Spill will perform Monday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St., with Wooden Indian Burial Ground and Clarke and the Himselfs. Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 the day of the show and are available online at or at the Music Farm box office. Doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m. Go to for more information.

Born in the small Australian town of Torquay, Xavier Rudd became familiar with the nature and culture of Australia’s vast rural territory at an early age. It was an education in life that stayed with him and helped shape a music career that’s almost as wide-open as the lands around him.

After college, Rudd began pursuing a life in music full time, finding a niche in Canada and on the festival circuit after the release of his 2002 debut, “To Let.”

The timing was right as his earthy aesthetic and up-tempo sound found a following among a fan base all too exhausted with the melodrama of emo and the elitism of indie rock.

Rudd brought something new and authentic to the festival subculture, introducing several instruments commonly found in the indigenous tribes of Australia, in particular the large wind instrument known as the didgeridoo, to a wide-eyed and open-armed audience.

Rudd has since released eight more albums, for a total of six that have been certified either platinum or gold in Australia, and expanded his live-playing repertoire to include as many as 15 conventional and unconventional instruments.

Rudd is on a North American headlining tour with his band, The United Nations, and will perform Wednesday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St., with Mike Love. Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 the day of the show and are available at the Music Farm box office or online at Doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m. Go to for more information.