Last semester alone saw the presentation of more concerts at William & Mary Hall than is usual for the course of an entire year. And, the concerts keep coming. On Feb 6, Cellar Door in association with the William & Mary Student Association will present Joni Mitchell in concert at William & Mary Hall. Later in February, on the 22nd, Cat Stevens will appear for a Hall concert. Judging from student enthusiasm, both performances promise to attract near capacity crowds.
If anyone doubts the popularity of Joni Mitchell, he should have seen the incredible line of prospective ticket buyers at the Hall box office last Tuesday morning when tickets first went on sale. Mitchell, a native of Canada, first received large attention in the sixties as a songwriter whose compositions attracted such performers as Tom Rush and Judy Collins. Her first album - Joni Mitchell- Song for a Seagull won a degree of critical praise but relatively little support from the record - buying public. It was through a steady stream of subsequent albums, such as Clouds, Ladies of the Canyons, and Blue than?(that) an initially small "cult" following developed into a huge national audience. As her audience grew, so did the artistry and sophistication of her recordings.
Mitchell's fifth album, For the Roses, featured her first big hit single, "You Turn me on- -I'm a Radio". Her association with Tom Scott's L.A. Express saw a slight change in style and led to the creation of the album for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award, Court and Spark, one of the finest records of 1974. Mitchell's most recent work, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, is currently riding high on the nation's best- selling-LP charts.
Perhaps more than anything else, it is her often intense, personal lyrical style that lends such beauty to her songs. Many, if not most contain more than a touch of autobiography. Her repertoire ranges from joyous declarations such as "All I Want" to slow, thoughtful imagery as in "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire".
Cat Stevens is another artist who often exhibits this deeply personal mode. After a brief, successful "first career" as a Top-40 singles artist, releasing light, rather insignificant material in the mid sixties, Stevens vanished from public view during a bout of tuberculosis. While convalescing, his songwriting began to take on a more serious, introspective air. Many of the songs he wrote during this period appeared on his next record, Mona Bone Jakon.
It was the British-born Stevens' highly acclaimed 1970 release, "Tea for the Tillerman" which launched him into his "second career," with a whole new audience and a whole new approach to music. His next two albums Teaser and the Firecat and Catch Bull at Four immediately went to the top of the national album charts. His most recent recording, Numbers, is an experimental attempt at a musical "fairytale" which Stevens describes as a "Pythagorean ". Tickets for the February 22 concert went on sale today.
Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens have a great many similarities. They both write and perform their own songs with occasional use of other peoples' material, as in Mitchell's Twisted and Steven's Another Saturday Night, play guitar and keyboards, often draw the illustrations for their own album covers, and, most importantly of all to the campus community for the time being, will be performing here very soon. Tickets for both shows should still be available at the William & Mary Hall box office.
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