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Just returned from an incredible evening at the Stormy Weather benefit for the
Walden Woods - Thoreau Foundation headed up by Don Henley. It was very
wonderful and music director Larry Klein did a brilliant job. Met up with Ken
C. and Steve J. for pre and post drinks and we rubbed elbows with the likes of
Mick Fleetwood, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Pat Sajak(!), and Penny Marshall
along with the assorted record industry big guys and smattering of soap opera
actors. (I actually had better seats than Mick and Lindsay Buckingham who sat
two rows behind me! They are both 12 feet tall and Mick looks quite
fantastic). Ed Begley, Jr. was the emcee.
The overall impression I had of the concert was that these women really were
able to showcase their voices in the 1940s music they sang. I came away
lot more respect for many of them, especially Gwen Stefani and Paula Cole.
Cole was mindblowing. Shawn Colvin, Trisha Yearwood and Sheryl Crow were all
fantastic. Natalie Cole made it all look totally effortless and really stood
out as the pro. Sandra Bernhardt, who actually has a very good voice, was
brilliantly hilarious in her version of "Is That All There Is" and a high
falsetto, operatic version of "Summertime". Bjork was very unique and sang
songs with a pronounced accent - very Euro. She sang "Gloomy Sunday" and some
of the lines came out "I vas onlynk dweemink" and "Gloomyk Sundayk" and
then...she announced that the organizers were so very nice and wonderful to
for letting her introduce the"most gorgeous-ess woman in the world - Joni
Mitchell." Joni came out and sang a duet with Bjork - "What Is This Thing
Called Love." After the song Bjork threw her arms around Joni and gave her a
big kiss. Joni went on to sing "Stormy Weather" and the wonderful Marvin Gaye
song "I Come Apart" (I can see her and Van doing this one as a duet). Joni
seemed a bit shy at first but finished strong. At the end all of the women
came out on stage holding hands, with Joni leading the pack. When she saw
Klein on stage, she grabbed ahold of him and hung on tight. It was clear to
see they still have a very strong and affectionate attachment and he just
like the nicest guy in the world the more I see of him. Oh, I just remembered
I forgot to mention Stevie Nicks - she sounded better doing the old forties
songs than I've ever heard her. She had lots of Stevie-heads in the audience
and they yelled and cheered and gave her a standing ovation. I was glad
also heard many cheers and yells during Joni's segment. Joni and Stevie were
the biggest hits, I'd say. I also think that Klein did one hell of a job.
the El Nino orchestra had to have the best musicians in town - absolutely
And now I will let Ken tell you more as I pack for Pittsburgh!
What a fun, classy, FABULOUS appetizer to the upcoming concerts! A full
orchestra and conductor, each bandmember sitting behind a little box
with an "ENO" logo painted on it. Think here of any number of thirties
and/or fourties movies and lots of Streamline Modern.
By now you will have read Kakki's take on the concert and maybe the
impressions of a couple of others. Here are some of my highlightes:
Even though she was on last, I'll start with Joni first. A duet with
Bjork, imagine that. Great image of them up onstage! A real contrast,
the small, gushing junior memmber who got to introduce her and the cool
grand dame trading phrases back and forth. This was a moment and Joni
got one of two MONSTER receptions from the crowd(the other being for
Stevie Nicks.) There were many many people there to see her. The guy
next to me said to his girl friend, "where has she been lately?" Joni
was right in the KCRW interview, "for the most part people of my
generation don't know I'm still in the business."
There were no other pairings like the Bjork-Mitchell number, which was a
shame but I suppose it would have been a different kind of evening if
there had been. As it was, singers were on for two songs then off, very
So Joni next did "Stormy weather" a very restrained but smouldering
reading with a few surprising bits of vocal punctuation. This made for
one of the evening's several dramatic moments. As we all know Joni is a
big Marvin Gaye fan and next she really cut loose on his "I Come Apart."
Leave it to JM to deviate from crowd with a seventies(I think, or maybe
late sixties) selection. Oh and her hair. It really is short now.
Here are some other memorable moments:
1.) My partner Steve and I walking into the lobby of the Wiltern Theatre
and spotting Kakki in this exotic coat made of black printed Chinese
2.) A pregnant and slightly weary Shawn Colvin singing "One For my
3.) An even more pregnant Sandra Bernhardt singing "Is That All There
Is?" Picture it, a few singers into the evening and everybody's ripe for
some comic relief. Here comes Sandra, completely dead-pan in a feather
boa in very good voice singing all those lines...
"I know what you're thinking,
If that's the way she feels about it
Why doesn't she just end it all..
Oh no, I'm not ready for that final disappointment...
Is that all there is,
Is that all there is,
If that's all there is my friend..."
4.) Stevie Nicks WITHOUT her trademark black flowing dress and platform
boots(in keeping with the evening's theme it was a floor length
melon-colored number.) Unfortunately she had some vocal problems on the
first number "When Sunny gets blue". The second number "At Last" was a
4.) Bjork in the "most inspired choice of material" catagory did "Gloomy
Sunday." The people sitting in my section (way in the back) didn't get
Bjork at all. They were mostly there for Stevie Nicks and in fact,
several left after Stevie's performance.
There were other memorable moments but I've gotta stop somewhere.
My vote for worst part of the evening goes to MC Ed Bagley Jr.(sp?) for
his repeated and witless jokes about George Michael.
P.S. After the show Kakki, Steve J. and I repaired to the Atlas Bar &
Grill next door to compare notes. A story in itself. We hung around and
talked for a long time. On the drive home Steve and I popped the
soundtrack to L.A. Confidential into the tape player and as it happened,
got behind the utility truck hauling all the little "ENO" bandstand
boxes back to some warehouse in SouthGate for storage...a funny way to
end a glamorous evening!
this is stevej, ken's partner, weighing in with my own very subjective
response to the question on everyone's mind this weekend:
jm chose a modified ATHENA look for the elegant Stormy Weather 98
evening. she boogied out to Bjork's hyperbolic introduction in a
steel-blue on steel-blue stripe knee-length straight line metallic
number with a matching square, hem-length scarf hangin' down the back.
At her waist was one of her trademark ArtNouveau/AmericanIndian silver
belt pieces, wildly filligreed, about six inches wide, cinched in the
back (under the scarf). she had the same thing going on in a necklace,
very large (2-3 inches wide), heavy and kinetic.
her shoes were the minimalist-est of high heeled sandals, brown 1/4 inch
and her HAIR (you breathlessly ask) was no longer than chin length
and industrially curled (or permed?) into a retro-thirties very loose
in short, she was finely tuned.....
...I'm tardy in getting this correction to the list but Steve
wants me to let you all know, he is aware that he was off on the length.
Rather than being knee-length, the gown was somewhere between the ankle
and several inches below the knee.
And my memory of it is this:
She had some layering going on. It was an ensemble. There was the main
dress, a long sleeved jacket/scarf thing over that and a long black
skirt underneath everything which hung down to her ankles.
P.S. I wouldn't even try to compete with Steve in the descriptive