Grassroots and good times

by Laurel Douglas
Edmonton Journal
August 5, 1994

‘Joni karma’ sets the stage as Folk Fest kicks off

Call it fate, chance or magic – six die-hard Joni Mitchell fans met Thursday to share a front row blanket at the Edmonton Folk Festival.

“We’ve got Joni karma here,” said Friedeman Weinhardt, linked arm in arm with his new wife, Anne-Marie.

He surprised his wife with tickets only hours earlier as the “grand finale” in a honeymoon planned specifically around their favorite artist’s appearance.

The surprises didn’t stop there. In the line outside Gallagher Park, the couple bumped into long-time friends, Melanie Williams and Malcolm Guthridge. Williams and Weinhardt hadn’t seen each other in more than two years but both said they were thinking of each other as they headed to the festival. As co-workers 10 years ago, they “just tripped out together on Joni all the time,” Weinhardt said.

Williams wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through her fingers, she said. She and Guthridge drove from Ottawa, occasionally sleeping on the side of the Trans-Canadian Highway.

“We’ve had an agreement for 10 years that no matter where in the world Joni’s playing, we’re going,” said Guthridge, who grew up listening to his mother’s records.

Outside the park, the four friends hooked up with two English fans who have followed Mitchell around the globe.

Anita Gabrielle first saw Mitchell play in London in 1967 and since then was first in line every time the folk legend crosses the Atlantic.

She had no idea, however, that the woman who inspired her to begin writing music would be playing in Edmonton this summer. She and Steph Daniels were vacationing in Calgary when they spotted an ad for the folk festival. The two fans frantically arranged to get tickets and gave Mitchell a bouquet of pink gladioli and mauve irises as she warmed up for Thursday night’s concert.

Gabrielle had been planning to tell Mitchell what an inspiration she was, but instead the first thing out of her mouth was “I see you’ve got a bit of a cold, Joni?” she said laughing as she related the story.

Because she’s so down-to-earth, you just start chatting with her, said Gabrielle. “Whenever I’ve met her, she’s been so nice.”

For these six fans, getting tickets to Mitchell’s third concert in five years was a dream come true.

“If you believe in magic, this is it,” Gabrielle said.


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