Joni Mitchell And The Hello People

by Wayne Smith
Greenfield Recorder (Massachusetts)
November 19, 1968

NORTHFIELD - Northfield Mount Herman Schools, which laid an egg with the first concert of the current series, nearly made it two, Saturday night.

The star performer, Miss Joni Mitchell, never found the Auditorium until quarter to eleven. She said she had been on her way since 2. If she became lost between New York and Northfield, we knew why. Her hair was in her eyes.

Everything was groovy, however, in due course. But it took considerable "doing".

First of all one-half the audience plunked itself into the wrong seats. This meant that the other half had to chase it out in order to get to its reserved spots. Musical chairs.

This mattered little, however, because there was plenty of time. There was a groovy group called The Hello People to keep folks from going to sleep. They got underway by quarter to nine and gave forth a not particularly varied, but persistent fare until 10.

THE HELLO PEOPLE are six young men. Probably. Gender was is doubt. The majority had long or longish hair. All wore chalk white makeup. One had ruby, beestung lips. The head gear offered the greatest variety. Some were floppy. Some were not. This went for the crew, too.

One Hello People sat behind something which sounded as though its parents had been a miss-matched piano and organ. When he was not droning ambiguous sounds he stepped to the front of the stage for pantomime. Most of the others pantomimed, too. And then there were cards which they held up. These said things like "Happiness Is". We were hoping.

Actually, however, the Hello People could bring forth some rather entrancing sounds. One of the boys was a crack flutist. Two also had the inevitable geetars. They played these rather well, too. Their singing left things to be desired. But members of the groove set found everything exactly to their taste and let no one doubt it. And if loud is what young people must have, the Hello People did, indeed, suffice. Everything but everything was very, very loud. We can still hear the drummer.

MISS MITCHELL wanted her thing loud, too. When one microphone didn't make it loud enough she tried a couple of others until she found the right one, like the second Miss Goldilocks.

Miss Mitchell, too, is a musician without question. Her voice is sweet and soothing. But it was not so with the mike. For awhile it came through like an old 78 recording with a bad needle. It was not her fault, of course. The next mike sounded like a new 33 with a worse needle.

Miss Mitchell's songs were on things such as sun pouring in like butterscotch. That we'd like to see. Another she called "Night In the City" and said it was an optimistic song. And then there was a trilogy which started out with something called "Marcy" and then switched to the tale of a cab driver. She attempted another with a sing-along chorus. But to us that was disappointing. We have heard Northfielders burst forth in thunderous song. Now there was only a wisp. Eventually she reached one she called "Song About the Midway" and ultimately, "Clouds", which seemed to be everybody's favorite.

WE WERE TOLD that some people left during the first of the season's concerts. Some left during this one, too. The generation gap, at least in music, is widening at Northfield.

We had to miss the first program, but we wouldn't have missed this one for the world. We know we're not with it. We cannot always appreciate what the long hairs, beards, and the groove set adore. For the most part it seems to go for anything that has a geetar around its neck, coos, or gushes torrents of electronic sound so loud that silence becomes the sweetest thing on earth.

That's all right, of course. But we fear for the next generation. It's found to come along without ears or with the drums full of holes. We looked at ours when we got home. They were still there. We could still hear. Oh, yes, we could still hear everything just as it was. Loud and clear.

But did Miss Mitchell ever find her way home? We're wondering.


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