You won't often hear recordings of "Both Sides, Now" or "Woodstock" by Joni Mitchell. The songs that were made famous by Judy Collins and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, respectively, were both by Joni Mitchell during the time she was rising from obscurity to the folk-rock world in the shadow of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. But as Dylan and Baez have faded from the scene along with their songs of protest (assuming that Dylan's recent highly acclaimed tour is merely for the sake of nostalgia rather than a concerted comeback effort) Mitchell has remained, and has bridged gap between the protest music of the middle and late 60's to the love music of the 70's. She holds her own in the wake of such specialists as Carly Simon and Carol King.
It began simply enough for Joni Mitchell. She casually picked up a ukulele at the age of 20 while still a Calgary art student. After spending some time performing in Toronto cafes, she became good enough to tour college campuses in Canada and the United States in the late 60's, billed as a rising folk star. She developed a unique style - - a category by herself. Joni Mitchell has since reached a successful plateau apparently without intention of being thrust to the forefront. She recently released her fourth album "Court and Spark", and has come into ownership of a recording company.
Her style is difficult to characterize. Her fourth album, "Blue," is perhaps the best example of her work. "Blue" is not a flow of music along a loosely set theme as are most albums but rather a collection of ten dissimilar pieces. Her music is uncomplicated and acoustic - almost pastoral. She sings in a tone that is at once deep and rich, instantly climbing to the farthest reaches of the scale without the slightest trace of tremor. Her lyrics are bold, somewhat less than poetic, but not ballad-like. They speak of travel, California, and lost loves (perhaps stemming from her divorce several years ago which some observers seem to feel has affected her lyrical style).
This Wednesday, February 13, Joni Mitchell will appear in Cleveland at Music Hall. The acoustics in Music Hall are rather good so it should be quite suited to her style. She attracts a select following - those with an undefinable taste for fine music. The original artist - the singer that did not make "Both Sides, Now" and "Woodstock" famous - Joni Mitchell will cater her uncharacterizable music to the undefinable tastes of an audience that will fill every seat at Cleveland Public Music Hall.
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