Bob Dylan and the concert-shy Joni Mitchell are embarking on a six-city tour of the West Coast, and fans have Van Morrison to thank for the dream pairing.
Dylan and Morrison had been scheduled to do the tour, which is set to open May 14 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and which includes two subsequent shows in Los Angeles and one in Orange County. The two performed sold-out concerts last month in New York and Boston, and were to re-team for a handful of West Coast shows.
However, Morrison's representatives subsequently said the Irish musician never officially agreed to play the shows with Dylan. Morrison's withdrawal opened the door for Mitchell, who has not toured in 16 years and has performed only a half-dozen shows in this decade. Her most recent performance was Nov. 6, 1995, when she did a surprise show for 200 fans at The Fez in New York City.
But Pop Beat learned yesterday that Morrison will perform with Dylan and Mitchell at their concerts May 21 and 22 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion and May 23 at Anaheim's Arrowhead Pond. Morrison also will join them for their other tour dates.
Morrison's about-face came after undisclosed scheduling problems were resolved, said a music-industry source. "With Joni already confirmed in the slot immediately prior to Dylan, Van graciously consented to be the first on stage," the source, who requested anonymity, said yesterday. Other tour dates are Seattle (May 16) and San Jose (May 19).
Tickets for the Los Angeles and Orange County shows will go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster, including in San Diego (call (619) 220 TIXS). Prices have not been announced.
Meanwhile, Mitchell will be a guest March 27 on "Morning Becomes Eclectic," the popular show on Los Angeles radio station KCRW/FM 89.9. While she is not officially scheduled to perform, she may preview some songs from her long-awaited new album, "Taming the Tiger."
The album originally was scheduled for release in May. But that date has been pushed back to coincide with a pay-per-view TV concert she will perform in September.
The album is primarily a duo work by Mitchell -- who performs on a Roland VG-8 computerized guitar and sings -- and Brian Blade, the drummer in jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman's band. Guests include saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Mark Isham and pedal-steel guitarist Greg Leisz.
Come next month, Mitchell will perform two numbers at "Stormy Weather '98," an April 16 benefit in L.A. for the Don Henley-headed Walden Woods Project and Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond. Also performing at the show, to be held at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, will be Toni Braxton, Trisha Yearwood, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Natalie Cole, Paula Cole and comic Sandra Bernhard. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.
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