Janis Ian and Tom Paxton at the McGlohon Theatre tonight (10/16/2012)
Janis Ian/Tom Paxton Can a former child prodigy still be considered one at age 61? If so, singer-songwriter-activist and science fiction author Janis Ian fits the bill. A folkie wunderkind, she rattled cages at the tender age of 13 with "Society’s Child," a taboo-busting meditation on interracial romance. In a business where second acts are rare, Ian is a font of constant rejuvenation. Dropping out by the time she turned 20, Ian re-emerged in 1975 with her biggest hit, "At Seventeen." At age 42, when many performers are past their peak, Ian delivered her hardest hitting set of songs on Breaking Silence, touching on domestic violence, the Holocaust and her own coming out as gay. The one constant throughout Ian’s illustrious career is her willingness to tackle subjects so far ahead of their time that they still make people uncomfortable. As Ian readily admits, opening her big mouth may get her into trouble, but it also ensures her ongoing relevance and durability. Also tagged as durable, singer-songwriter Tom Paxton once served as Ian’s mentor. An influential voice of his generation, Paxton emerged from the Greenwich Village folk revival of the early 1960’s. As passionately devoted to social justice as he peers, Paxton affected a lighter touch than Dylan or Phil Ochs, producing quality material with passion and good humor. National treasures both, Ian and Paxton prove that old radicals never die, they simply continue to burn brightly. $25-$32.50. Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m. McGlohon Theatre, 345 North College St. 704-372-1000.