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Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., known around the world as Dr. John, initially aspired to be a professional songwriter, producer and sideman. He wanted to work behind the scenes, not out front. But after assuming the persona of Dr. John the Night Tripper in the late 1960s, Rebennack was behind the scenes no more.

His idiosyncratic style and sound – the gravelly growl, the sly, deceptively leisurely phrasing, the original hipster patois, the hybrid Big Easy piano – embodied New Orleans and its music. Rebennack, an icon of the city who remained an active creative force until he abruptly disappeared from public view 18 months ago, died Thursday of a heart attack after years of declining health. He was 77. -Keith Spera

Joni and Dr. John appeared on the same stage at the legendary Last Waltz concert in 1976. And, on her 35th birthday Joni attended a Dr. John concert at the Bottom Line in NYC (pictured), in which he sang happy birthday to her from the stage.

play Dr John sings to Joni

Elizabeth “Betsy” Asher, a music industry insider and self-described political news junkie, died Dec. 18, 2018 in Los Angeles. She was 75. She was born April 9, 1943 on Parris Island, SC to Paul Burney Doster and Elizabeth Fredrickson.

Betsy worked in the coffee houses of New York’s Greenwich Village and as a publicist before moving to London. By the time she relocated to L.A., the musicians and songwriters she had known in the Village had become household names in rock music. Journalists and biographers often sought Betsy’s unique perspective on the career arc of some of the most iconic musical artists of the last century.

Betsy is referenced by Joni in Song for Sharon, and perhaps Moon at the Window as well.

A feature-length documentary, Laurel Canyon, is set to premiere later this year. The film, according to a press release, “will pull back the curtain on a mythical world and provide an up-close look at the lives of the musicians who inhabited it.” Alison Ellwood (History of the Eagles) will direct; the film will premiere later this year on EPIX.

Among the artists who will be featured are Joni, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, the Mamas and the Papas, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor, the Doors, Frank Zappa and more. More information here.

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13 Upcoming Tributes and Events

Do you know of a Joni-related event we've not listed here? Email the information to us and we'll post it here. You can also request our official Facebook page to co-host the event, and we'll pick up the info there.

In the 1960s, Toronto developed one of the world’s most vibrant music scenes, with folk, blues and rock performers who went on to international acclaim. In this whirlwind tour of the musical culture that flourished on Yonge Street and in Yorkville through the end of the decade, Curious Minds favourite Dr. Mike Daley (The Beatles and their World; Leonard Cohen: Words and Music) will bring these legendary artists—and they world they inhabited—to thrilling new life.

Using archival video, photos and recorded music, he’ll immerse us in the sights and sounds of the historic venues where they performed and showcase the extraordinary talents of musicians like The Band, Ronnie Hawkins, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. He’ll celebrate the world-renowned icons who got their start here in our city and the local stars whose musical talents left an enduring legacy.

This course is led by Dr. Mike Daley, a music historian and professional musician who has taught at Guelph, McMaster, Waterloo and York Universities. More information here.

Come for brunch, or just to enjoy Joni Mitchell's music! Molly Darcy's superb brunch, featuring specialty brunch cocktails - prix fixe, or choose anything from the lunch menu.

The 6-member band performs Joni's musical arrangements of her best-loved hits from her critically acclaimed albums: Court & Spark, Shadows & Light, Hejira, Miles of Aisles, Blue, Hissing of Summer Lawns, Mingus. Onscreen videos accompany many songs, with Joni's photos and paintings creating a visual story for her poetic lyrics.

Featuring Leslie Ballard (vocals, flute), Christian Martirano (keyboards), Matt Spencer (drums), Tony DePaolo (guitar), Steve Moran (sax, clarinet), and Steve Zerlin (bass). More information here.

Mandy has been performing around Ontario at various venues and festivals, working with some of Canada’s finest jazz artists; David Braid, Nancy Walker, Dave Restivo, Keiran Overs, Jim Vivian, Barry Romberg, Kevin Dempsey, David Occhipinti, Andrew Downing, Kevin Turcotte, to mention a few. Her latest project, “Verses” awarded her financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts and The Ontario Arts Council. More information here.

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