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Ani DiFranco chooses the happy side of life

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

On Election Day, celebrated folk artist Ani DiFranco predicted a landslide victory for President Obama.

But whichever way the vote turns out, DiFranco said she plans to host quite the party when she hits town Saturday night. That's understandable when you consider that she will be breaking from the touring cycle as she awaits the birth of her second child.

"This is going to be my last tour for a while," she said, noting her due date is in April, but she'll keep her musical muse busy even when she's out of the public eye. "I have a bunch of new songs. I'll be messing around with them, which I always do. I always have new stuff going on. I am always sort of changing it up."

Here latest changeup was the release earlier this year of her album "ÀWhich Side Are You On?" Her first studio album in three years, it features Pete Seeger on banjo on the title track, as well as the rabble-rousing, left-leaning calls for action and understanding listeners find on her other albums. And even if one doesn't agree with the sentiments behind such songs as "Promiscuity," the songs are a joy.

Onstage
Ani DiFranco
Where: 7 p.m. Saturday
When: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
Info: Sold out at press time, but tickets might be available through resellers; 202-265-0930; 930.com

DiFranco invited kindred musical spirits to guest on the album. Ivan and Cyril Neville, of the first family of funk from DiFranco's adopted hometown of New Orleans, avant-saxophonist Skerik (known for his work with Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt and others) and indie artist Anais Mitchell are among those who create this group of often horn-heavy, spirited songs.

The standout, most critics agree, is the reworked Seeger song that is the title track.

"I've known Pete since I was a very young pup on the folk circuit," said DiFranco, who had played the song with him on various occasions, including when she was just starting in the business. "He writes me handwritten letters, and whenever I get a request from him, my answer is immediately yes because I enjoy being in his presence so much. So recording [this song] was sort of a full-circle experience for me."

Another experience has been a shift in her focus. As she's gotten older and married again, her life has been happier and more stable than perhaps at any other time.

"Not all of us had the best models and best examples growing up," said the Buffalo, N.Y., native of her famously rocky childhood. "There's so much to learn and also so much to unlearn. It's important to be happy as we go."

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