Folkocracy is Rufus Wainwright revisiting his roots, of childhood summers spent at folk festivals and watching his famous family on stage. But it’s also the sound of an artist in the present using all he has learnt from conquering pop to opera and showtunes.
“I’ve shied away from folk in the past, preferring the worlds of opera and pop. But the fact is I’m from a bona fide folkocracy who mixed extensively with other folkocracies such as the Seegers and the Thompsons. As I hurtle towards 50, I’m back where it all began.”
The album, Rufus’ 12th studio album released on June 2nd, features and all-star cast of guests including Brandi Carlile, Chaka Khan, David Byrne, Anohni, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, Nicole Scherzinger and his family of course among others. The album is a bit of a 50th birthday present to himself, invite the singers you have always admired to come and join you in the process. “Getting lots of guests was a given from the start,” says Rufus. “The key to folk is community and sharing a stage. But I didn’t want to make a duets record. We rode a fine line – guests, not duets.”
For the tour he has assembled a four piece band of amazing musicians and two incredible back-up singers, his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche and Petra Haden who will sing the parts of most of the guests from the album.
The set list will contain almost all songs from the album. He chose those 15 songs with producer Mitchell Froom, some are bona fide folk songs like Peggy Seeger’s “Heading for Home” or Ewan MacColl’s “Alone” but others are Wainwright’s interpretation of what constitutes a folk song today like The Mama’s and The Papa’s “Twelve-Thirty”, his own “Going to a Town”, or Moondog’s “High on a Rocky Ledge” which he first heard on a sultry Hawaiian New Year’s Eve.
The concept of cover songs will continue for the rest of the set list, picking songs Rufus recorded for his audible original “Roadtrip Elegies” at LA’s legendary folk venue McCabe’s Guitar Store. Those songs accompanied a car ride that he took frequently as a child from his mother’s home in Montreal to his dad’s of New York. This time in his car was his shrink and the entire conversation was recorded with the songs illuminating important stops on memory lane.
This additional material will contain some new songs by Rufus along with covers of among others Bob Dylan, Mina, and the late Burt Bacharach who Wainwright described on his January 2023 tour with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta as the “greatest living American songwriter”.
Not many musicians have the vocal range and depth of interpretation that Wainwright possesses or as The New Yorker simply put it “Nobody sings quite like Rufus Wainwright”. Nobody gives live shows quite like Rufus either. Expect Folkocracy!
About Rufus Wainwright:
Praised by the New York Times for his “genuine originality,” Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists, songwriters, and composers of his generation. The New York-born, Montreal-raised singer-songwriter has released ten studio albums to date, three DVDs, and three live albums including the Grammy-nominated Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with artists such as Elton John, Burt Bacharach, Robert Wilson, David Byrne, Boy George, Joni Mitchell, Pet Shop Boys, Heart, Robbie Williams, Jessye Norman, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Sting, and producer Mark Ronson, among many others. He has written two operas, numerous songs for movies and TV, and is currently working on his first musical. His latest GRAMMY® and JUNO nominated album, Unfollow the Rules, finds Wainwright at the peak of his powers, entering artistic maturity with passion, honesty, and a new-found fearlessness.
One of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation, Rufus Wainwright performs music from his upcoming release Folkocracy, in which he revisits his roots of childhood summers spent at folk festivals and watching his famous family on stage. Featuring Lucy Wainwright Roche and Petra Haden on back-up vocals and a four-piece band, the Folkocracy tour showcases Wainwright’s extraordinary vocal range and depth of interpretation. “Nobody sings quite like Rufus Wainwright” – The New Yorker