BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
TRAVERSE CITY —
If this year's Traverse City Wine & Art Festival headliner looks familiar, it may be because you've seen him on the big screen.
Rodriguez, hero of the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Searching for Sugar Man," will get top billing at the June 22 event.
"If he wins, it's going to be really big for the festival," said Andrew McFarlane, spokesman for the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association, which organizes the festival at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The annual event features regional wineries, restaurants, fine artists and performers.
A Detroit-based folk musician whose songs often lament the plight of the inner city poor, Rodriguez fell into virtual obscurity after releasing two albums in the early 1970s. In 1998, after it was revealed he'd achieved cult status in South Africa, he was discovered working odd jobs as a manual laborer and construction worker in his hometown.
His story and two South African fans' journey to find him were documented in 2012's "Searching for Sugar Man." The film, which opened the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival, sparked TV news and late-night talk-show appearances, re-releases of his albums and a resurgence in his career. Earlier this month it won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Documentary.
Now 70, Rodriguez will return to South Africa for a month-long tour after performing today at The Ark in Ann Arbor.
Tickets for the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival are $25 in advance at traversecitywinefestival.com or $35 at the door.