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DiFranco brings funk, frank lyrics

Ani DiFranco has gone from shaven-headed, underground folk-punk heroine to critical darling. A decade ago, the Buffalo-born, bisexual, bejeweled and be-pierced guitar-totin' troubadour founded her own record label, Righteous Babe, to release her stirring tales of boys and girls (and girls and girls) and how badly the corporate world stinks.

Shunning those ever-beckoning major labels, DiFranco stuck to her guns, singing brutally honest lyrics in that signature be-boppin,' sexy staccato. Her stage show is jittery, with lots of frenetic, weirdly percussive guitar playing, proving DiFranco is as manic as she is prolific. The last few albums (you lose count at 15) bring jazzier grooves: horns, accordions, to flesh out DiFranco's starkness.

If the Swing duet with saxophonist Maceo Parker (of James Brown and Parliament fame) on the new Swing Set E.P. is any indication, DiFranco, who turns 30 this month, is about to get even funkier.

Ani Di Franco performs 8 p.m. Tuesday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $27-$30.

_ GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

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