Righteous babe Ani DiFranco had already made eight albums by the time of her appearance at this 1996 edition of the Hog Farm Pig-Nic. By the show's end, it sounds like she's added a few more converts to her growing legion of hardcore fans. With a stage persona that's easygoing, adaptable, and eminently right on, DiFranco's style is perfect for the freewheeling festival-set who loves their jams, and she delivers them without reservation. With only an acoustic guitar, her passionate vocal style, and alongside a tight rhythm section that includes bass legend Sara Lee, Ani throws down a characteristically high-energy set which draws largely on material from her then-recent album Dilate, and two previous titles, Not A Pretty Girl, and '94's Out of Range.
As DiFranco veers from the edgy "The Slant" to the tender "Glass House," she sings and plucks out her personal truths with pure emotion. And though she's grounded by the festival's grassroots vibe and solar-powered stage set-up, it's easy to imagine DiFranco levitating. And yet she stays earthbound, slapping down licks on her guitar and emoting in a distinctly ethereal yet soulful way that's vocally dynamic. She's at once as capable of conjuring the poetic, as in a line about a lover's motorbike kicking up dust in the driveway ("Gravel"), as she is at giving up the funk (with her own crowd-pleasing "Shameless" as well as with the Prince cover, "When Doves Cry").
A one-of-a-kind artist with a long list of qualifications, this appearance showcases DiFranco and her road band in Phase One, when she was still perfecting but definitely projecting the playful, outspoken, and iconoclastic performer known around the world today by just one name: Ani.