Show Preview: Martha Wainwright, September 22nd, Café du Nord

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Back for its third stint (this time as a musical venue once again), Café du Nord is all set to welcome Canadian-American singer Martha Wainwright this Friday. Born to a musically inclined family, Wainwright learned to love music with both of her parents (her mother is Canadian folk singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle, and her father is American folk singer and actor Loudon Wainwright III). She’s been recording for the better part of two decades herself – her first independent cassette (!), Ground Floor, came out in 1997, following which her song ‘Year of the Dragon’ was featured on one of the albums recorded by her mother and aunt – Kate & Anna McGarrigle’s The McGarrigle Hour.

Wainwright went on to enroll in drama classes at Concordia University in Montreal and later moved to New York, where she worked tirelessly to make herself known as a singer and songwriter. In 2001, she recorded a song titled ‘Star-Crossed Lovers’ in collaboration with late-90’s techno stalwarts Propellerheads for the album Red Hot + Indigo that was compiled by the Red Hot Organization as a fundraiser to fight AIDS.

But her big break was to come when Martha got in touch with Brad Albetta, who collaborated with her in 2005 to produce her self-titled debut album – Martha Wainwright – and three years later, in 2008, to bring together her second album, titled I Know You’re Married but I’ve Got Feelings Too. Her sophomore effort also included Martha’s mother, brother (Rufus Wainwright), and aunt among the contributing artists, and Wainwright went on to tour the album across the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Continuing to experiment across genres, Wainwright has built up an impressive and eclectic discography; one for the nerds and the fans, the big stage and the small, intimate set, all woven through with a distinctive, aching, powerful voice.

Over the course of her career, Martha Wainwright has stepped outside entertainment and has used her art to give assistance to a variety of social causes as well – including as one of the 24 female artists who came together to release a single – ‘Sing’ – to raise awareness about the transmission of HIV. She has also appeared on the HBO television miniseries Olive Kitteridge as Angela O’Meara, a pianist who performs covers of popular tunes from the 1970s.

While she has glowed brilliantly in each of the roles she has taken on, be it singer, actor, or activist, it’s Wainwright’s live performances that are the highlights of her career. Martha’s greatest strength lies in how she can captivate an audience regardless of who she’s playing with, or where she’s playing. From concert halls to coffee shops, from bars and dives to acoustic lounges, Wainwright’s career is a testament to the fact that artistry will out.

This Friday, she’ll be playing Café du Nord, bringing together a powerful performance with one of San Francisco’s great venues. So if you’ve always been a fan of Martha’s unique and deeply personal musical renditions, you know where you’ve got to be this Friday night!

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An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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