It was a true honor to have Joni Mitchell sing to everyone at this years Bread & Roses, the festival of acoustic music Mimi Farina first organized in 1977.
Joni brought with her a playful and mischievous sparkle she wore throughout both of her sets yesterday. For the first show, she dressed casually in a loose sweater, with her hair rolled on the sides of her head, and looked like a young Swedish girl with guitar.
Joni put together an interesting outfit songwise too, beginning with her newest classic, Coyote, two years old now, but still fresh as ever. Her voice was lovely and her guitar work was stunning and the audience really just ate it up. Then Joni began the opening chords of another classic, usually played with the band: Just Like This Train, was instantly recognizable as Ms. Mitchell slipped into a trance and literally dove into the song, playing so well that one realizes that this song never needed a band to be good. And before anyone could wipe away sentimental tears, Joni cast yet another spell with Furry Sings The Blues, haunting and beautiful, and thrilling to hear just Joni again.
Then Joni lost the guitar and told everyone that she was "putting down all of her instruments", all "except for this one" (indicating her voice), and wanted everyone to visualize a Las Vegas nightclub scene, (Wayne Newton, Sinatra, "flickering neon"), and sang a new song, Fool's Paradise or The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines, which is a collaboration with Charles Mingus, the legendary bassplayer and musical innovator.
This number was somewhat reminiscent of Joni's famous rendition of Twisted, the old Annie Ross song she brought back to life in her COURT AND SPARK days. It really pleased the audience too, 'cause Joni grooved as usual. She played two other new songs, A Chair In The Sky, accompanied by Herbie Hancocks piano tinkling, and The Wolf that Lives in Lindsey, for which Joni returned to her guitar, and somehow got the audience to howl, like wolves.
Finally Joni played The Circle Game to the crowd, and Herbie and all the gang joined her for this one, before saying goodnight.
Those who stayed for the second show were treated to more Mitchell mystique and magic with some variation. Shadows And Light replaced Just like this Train, and the rest of the set was filled with the quirks and spark only Joni can provide. Always a stickler for change, Joni was making no exceptions or compromises for the sake of her "fans", who always want Joni to be something she just isn't: stationary. No, Joni showed her sense of humor by dressing up, not a dress or a sparkling pants and blouse ensemble, no fancy jewels; a uniform it was, stripes and all, complete military drag, completely surprising.
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