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Fairness Doctrine

In music, as in law, David Rodriguez tries to fit things together

Forgiveness spreads its net wider than the highly political Avatars, Angels and Ashes and The True Cross. Like all of Rodriguez' recorded work, Forgiveness lacks the production quality the material deserves, but there's a compensating raw immediacy that would likely be lost if a pro ever tried to make this fly in Nashville.

Not that Nashville is ready to mass-market this style of confrontation; in their pointedness, Rodriguez' songs have more in common with what they used to call protest songs than with the personal relationship-obsessed, rainbow-loving contemporary folk crop. Partly because of that pointedness, partly because of the lone-man-and-his-guitar performance and partly because of his "minority" status -- which must, in the public eye, signal grievance -- it's tempting to label Rodriguez a modern day protest singer and leave it at that.

"No," Rodriguez protests, "not really. It's a question of language and what people are accustomed to. The whole idea that it's a protest to argue in a song, or to posit in a song, that something right ought to be done.... This is characterized as a protest, it's already got a negative thing around it. They could call it prayer music, or pleading music, or beautiful music or hopeful music, but they call it protest music to put the burden on the person singing to justify something that's self-justifying -- that those that have the least deserve something."

David Rodriguez celebrates the release of Forgiveness and performs at 8 p.m. Friday, August 19 at Sand Mountain Music, 617 W. 19th Street. Tickets $8. Call 864-9770 for info.

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