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Joni: A Portrait in Song - A Birthday Happening Live at Massey Hall.

Toronto, ON, June 18, 2013

Written by Sam Stone: These tracks come from a radio webcast featuring highlights from two concerts that were part of this year's Luminato Festival. These concerts celebrated the career of Joni Mitchell and pre-empted her 70th birthday which will be in November. These shows are significant because they marked Joni's first time on the stage since 2008. She had said initially that she would not appear at the festival (she doesn't like these kind of things, you know?). Later it was announced that she would perform a reading of "This Rain, This Rain," an adaptation of a poem by Emily Carr, with folks like Herbie Hancock, etc. backing her. At the first concert, she surprised everyone by performing three songs in addition to the poetry: Don't Interrupt The Sorrow (which has not surfaced yet and was not broadcast), Furry Sings the Blues, and Woodstock which featured vocals by all the performers.

In addition to Joni, many other prominent musicians performed. These included Glen Hansard, Esperanza Spalding, Herbie Hancock and a host of others. Although these are just highlights and NOT a full concert, they provide an enjoyable listen. Plus, they are historically significant in Joni's career.

The Radio Broadcast Set 1
Recorded July 1, 2013 from Radio 2 webcast

00:00 CBC Intro
00:07 DJ Intro
00:52 Glen Hansard - Coyote
08:28 DJ Talk
09:35 Liam Titcolm - If (some cuts present)
18:24 Al Spx of Cold Specks - Black Crow
23:39 DJ Intro
23:59 Kathleen Edwards Talk
24:59 Kathleen Edwards - Big Yellow Taxi
27:57 DJ Talk and Intro
28:34 Lizz Wright - Shades of Scarlett Conquering
33:38 Lizz Wright - The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey
40:28 DJ Intro
41:01 Herbie Hancock & Esperanza Spalding - Both Sides Now
50:40 DJ Intro
50:47 Rufus Wainwright - All I Want
55:02 DJ Talk and Intro
55:59 Joni Mitchell - Furry Sings the Blues (snippet)
58:47 DJ Closing

The Radio Broadcast Set 2
Recorded July 12, 2013 from Radio 1 webcast

0:59:15 CBC Intro
0:59:35 DJ Intro
1:00:10 Glen Hansard - The Boho Dance
1:04:22 DJ Intro
1:05:01 Kathleen Edwards - Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
1:10:03 DJ Intro
1:10:20 Lizz Wright and Herbie Hancock - Jerich
1:15:30 DJ Intro
1:15:50 Esperanza Spalding - Help Me
1:19:32 DJ Intro
1:19:50 Wainwright, Glen Hansard -others - Free Man in Paris
1:24:21 DJ Intro to News Break
1:24:46 Joni Mitchell - Introduction to Rain
1:27:13 Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock - Rain (poetry)
1:34:29 DJ Intro
1:34:44 Joni Mitchell - Introduction to Furry Sings the Blues
1:37:08 Joni Mitchell & Herbie Hancock - Furry Sings the Blues
1:43:05 DJ Intro
1:43:15 Joni Speaks and Set-up
1:43:28 Joni Mitchell and others - Woodstock
1:50:59 DJ Closing

Cast of singers Glen Hansard, Liam Titcomb, Rufus Wainwright, Lizz Wright, Kathleen Edwards and Cold Specks's Al Spx

The band, who floated in and out:
Herbie Hancock - piano (on select tracks as noted)
Brian Blade - drums
Jon Cowherd - piano, keyboard, organ
Bill Frisell - guitar
Marvin Sewell - guitar
Christopher Thomas - bass
Ambrose Akinmusire - trumpet
Melvin Butler - saxophone
Jeff Haynes - percussion

Brad Wheeler wrote in The Globe And Mail:

Onstage at Massey, where she followed performances of her material by a cast of singers (Glen Hansard, Liam Titcomb, Rufus Wainwright, Lizz Wright, Kathleen Edwards and Cold Specks's Al Spx), Mitchell's range was revealed as greatly reduced. She blames the vocal decline on Morgellons syndrome, not age or chain-smoking. Whatever the cause, there was grace to the way she managed within her lower, limited register, both on 1975's Don't Interrupt the Sorrow (which she introduced as "the closest I ever came to being a feminist") and on Furry Sings the Blues, a character study of the one-legged bluesman Furry Lewis from 1976's Hejira LP.

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