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Some folks might think of Melissa Etheridge as “the female Bruce Springsteen,” but as far as her die-hard fans are concerned, Bruce is only the male Melissa Etheridge.
Etheridge, the raspy-voiced rocker whose songs range from fierce declarations of love and longing to battle cries for progressive politics, will play a concert July 31 in the Cowlitz Ballroom at ilani. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for $35 and $55.
Etheridge was born in Leavenworth, Kan., and she started playing the guitar at age 8. Her intense, confessional style is sometimes called “heartland rock,” but folks in the heartland may not have realized that Etheridge is a lesbian until she said so publicly. That was in 1993, long before homosexuality had gained anything like general acceptance in American culture — but Etheridge’s rock ‘n’ roll star was rising fast by then. Ironically, the album release where she declared herself a lesbian, “Yes I Am,” is the same album release that made her a mainstream rock star.
Etheridge has been nominated for Grammy awards 15 times, and won twice; she also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “I Need to Wake Up,” which was featured in Al Gore’s climate change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” While known as a soulful rocker, Etheridge has also made a name for herself as an activist for LGBTQ and environmental causes. She was open about her battle with breast cancer, her endorsement of medical cannabis and the fact that her tour bus got busted in 2017 at the U.S./Canada border. (She was carrying cannabis oil, which she said she takes for post-op cancer pain.)
Now, Etheridge is back with a new album called “The Medicine Show.” Some critics have wondered if the big, rocking album is Melissa Etheridge trying a little too hard to sound like Melissa Etheridge — but many more critics and fans are lapping it up. “The Medicine Show” reached No. 1 on the Americana/folk album charts in April.
“Calling the album `The Medicine Show’ puts straight up, front and center, that this is about health, wellness … however you want to understand it,” Etheridge said. “It influences every song on the album.”
If You Go
What: Melissa Etheridge.
When: 8 p.m., July 31.
Where: Cowlitz Ballroom at ilani, 1 Cowlitz Way, Ridgefield.
Tickets: $35 or $55.
On the web: ilaniresort.com
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