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Meeting Joni: The Sheriff and the Chicken   Print

by Julie Monical
JoniMitchell.com
September 30, 2013

My name is Julie Monical. I am 42 years old and now live in Long Beach, CA. However, in the 1970's I spent much of my early childhood back stage at the Santa Barbara County Bowl.

To indulge my dad's love of music and lack of pocket book, he bounced concerts for A.S. Concerts/Pacific Presentations in addition to his full time job as a mail clerk at the Montecito Post Office. My mom was involved behind the scenes on occasion as well and Joni Mitchell was her hero. She constantly played Court and Spark, and I remember me loving, "Help Me" and "Twisted".

One summer evening in 1975, when I was 4 ½ years old, Joni was at the Bowl, not as a performer but accompanying her then boyfriend, who I believe was a base player in the band that was performing that night.

When my mom saw Joni come up from downstairs and sit just a few feet to the right of us, I'm sure she about lost her mind, but she simply said to me, "Hey, Julie, there's Joni Mitchell, why don't you go say hi."

Me, not being at all shy as a kid... I went over to Joni and before I knew it, we were drawing a cartoon together. Joni drew a Sheriff and a chicken and some dialog I can't recall now I believe about the chicken being arrested. I think it was a joke. I don't know why Joni had little bracketed silver stars with her, but I remember she poked one of the stars through the paper to serve as the Sheriff's badge and she placed another on the red apple that was sewn on my denim skirt.

A photographer from Ojai, Bruce Ditchfield (who knew my parents), captured the moment of us drawing the cartoon together on camera.

That picture would later appear in a yellow, pamphlet-style book "Joni Mitchell, Her Life, Her Loves, Her Music."

When I was 12, Joni was performing at the Bowl and my dad was working the concert. I was so excited to see Joni again as I remembered how sweet she was to me. There was a waitress from our favorite Mexican restaurant trying to unsuccessfully get back stage with a bouquet of flowers for Joni and I remember me saying "I can get back stage, and I know Joni, I'll take them to her!" As if Joni and I were old friends...but I was determined to see Joni and show her I was the little girl in the book.

I basically barged into Joni's dressing room, but Joni was nothing but gracious to me and signed the page I was on in the book and I was able to pass on the flowers to her.

The original picture of Joni and I along with the cartoon she drew with me, were framed together and on the wall of our dining room in Ojai until I moved out of the house at 21. But unfortunately when my dad passed away in 2009, I did not find the original framing or the original book Joni had signed. I did however, find a later re-print of the same book my dad must have gotten and saved along the way as well as my disintegrated skirt with the apple and Joni's star was found in the attic as well as a compilation of Bruce Ditchfield's photos of Santa Barbara County Bowl Concerts which again featured the same picture of Joni and I. This book was also damaged quite a bit, but recently I received a call from a friend of the family who knows Bruce and he has apparently procured me a pristine copy.

For the last 2 years I had been thinking of trying to write Joni, but the call about this book is what prompted me to reach out to Joni finally.

Joni, thank you for being a part of "my story" and the strong connection to music I still have to this day. You created such a great memory for my family.

A duplicate of our picture resides today on the wall in my husband's garage- converted music studio along with a picture of me at 3 dancing on stage with Steve Miller to the Joker, a back stage picture of my mom, my brother and I as well as my favorite picture of my dad and I at Santa Barbara County Bowl.

 

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