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Preview: Patty Griffin

Noah Bonaparte Pais on the singer-songwriter coming to Tipitina's Oct. 23

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Cult status means something very different in music than it does in film, a distinction that has nothing to do with cultishness and almost everything to do with time warps, made men and sweet transvestites from Transexual, Transylvania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show's overnight rise as a worldwide midnight matinee and cross-dressing costume party is the subversive inverse of Patricia Jean Griffin's long-exposure recording career, which has perpetuated like a scriptural chain letter, all salt and earth, life and death, secrets and revelations. Griffin, 49, is neither a household name like Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss nor a railroad murmur — she releases traditional folk/rock on ATO Records and penned the Dixie Chicks' best songs, and her boyfriend and reciprocal backup singer is Robert Plant. Her elusive moment, after 17 years of diamond clarity, hardness and precision, is right now, with the successive releases of two defining works, one old and one new: the long-bootlegged Silver Bell (Universal), recorded in 2000 with Daniel Lanois at Kingsway Studio on Esplanade Avenue but shelved due to the consolidation of her previous label, A&M; and American Kid (New West), a piercing, startlingly pretty deliverance of her late father, who died while she was writing the album. It's not all handkerchiefs and veils, however. On "Don't Let Me Die in Florida," the Maine native gives her magnificent voice over to the fears of those reared in a state where others go to expire: "Please don't let me die in Florida/ I don't care about my name/ If you catch me dying in Orlando/ Throw my bed onto a train." Andrew Duhon opens. Tickets $25 in advance, $27 day of show. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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