When Joni Mitchell took the stage at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival two weeks ago, festival producer Terry Wickham couldn't help but smile. The Alberta-born singer-songwriter, known for such classic hits as "Woodstock', and "The Circle Game," had only given three public performances in the last five years. And she hadn't played a Canadian folk festival since a bad experience with the organizers of Toronto's Mariposa Festival in 1969. "They copped an attitude," she explained. "They didn't want anyone with too much drawing power." But Mr. Wickham managed to convince the 50-year-old singer to give Edmonton a chance. And she loved it. For Ms. Mitchell, who, now splits her time between homes in California and B.C., the August 4 concert was a homecoming of sorts. She was born in Fort MacLeod, 22 miles west of Lethbridge. And she first performed her songs in public at Calgary's now-defunct Depression Coffee House in 1964, while studying art at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. During her stay in Edmonton, Ms. Mitchell jammed with fellow festival performer Taj Mahal, tramped about the rain-soaked Gallagher Park grounds, unrecognized in her rain gear, and met with relatives living in the city. "She was very happy," says Mr. Wickham, who is now working on luring another victim of the 1969 Mariposa fest's anti-pop attitude, Winnipeg native Neil Young, back to the folk fest fold. "We'd love to have him play," he says. "It would be a real coup."
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