¿Which Side Are You On?
Release Date: January 17, 2012.
¿Which Side Are You On? marks Ani DiFranco’s first studio album in more than three years. The collection features 11 new songs alongside a radically reworked rendition of the classic title song, famously popularized by the one and only Pete Seeger nearly five decades ago, but no less relevant today.
Backing DiFranco is a remarkably diverse line-up of stellar musicians, including members of her own crack touring band as well as such guest players as Ivan and Cyril Neville, avant-saxophonist Skerik (Pearl Jam, R.E.M.), acclaimed singer/songwriter (and Righteous Babe recording artist) Anaïs Mitchell, guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee), and a host of New Orleans-based horn players.
Ani is joined on her stunning new version of “¿Which Side Are You On?” by the aforementioned Pete Seeger, whom she praises as “my elder, my forefather in folk music and political song.” DiFranco was inspired to record the famed protest anthem after being invited to perform at Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in May 2009. She contributed her own straight-from-the headlines verses to the song and has used it to close her own live shows ever since. The newly recorded version of “¿Which Side Are You On?” is a funk-fueled epic, incorporating not just Ani’s band, but Seeger himself on banjo and vocals alongside The Rivertown Kids, a Hudson Valley-based children’s chorus, and The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, a brass band consisting of students from The Roots of Music, a music education program for at-risk middle-school students in New Orleans.
¿Which Side Are You On? was co-produced by DiFranco and her longtime collaborator Mike Napolitano over a series of sessions in 2010 and 2011. “All of my musical community, my comrades, are in there,” says Ani of the cross-generational recording.
The basic tracks feature two slightly different versions of Ani’s touring band, recorded at Bogalusa, Louisiana’s renowned Studio In The Country, Brooklyn, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Studio, and her own New Orleans home studio, The Dugout.