TORONTO - Canadian talent lured a sell-out crowd to the first concert of the three-day Mariposa Folk Festival Friday night.
All 8,000 tickets were sold for the concert, a heavily-Canadian program held under moist but clear skies - it had rained during the afternoon - in a meadow on Centre Island (in Lake Ontario just off downtown Toronto).
If attendance keeps up for the workshops, seminars and converts today and Sunday, organizers predict Mariposa's ninth season will be its most successful.
Friday night's audience gave a standing ovation to Joni Mitchell, a Saskatchewan girl now living in California and becoming a star in the United States.
Joni is a child of the festival - five years ago she was on the bottom of the bill, but after faithfully performing at Mariposa each year she is now on the top.
And obviously Joni was glad to be back.
Wearing a floor-length green silk gown, long, straight blond hair and a Cinderella smile, she looked happy and comfortable.
Certainly her lifting throaty voice has never been keener, as she worked through a program of her better-known songs - Chelsea Morning, Both Sides Now - and a sample of songs she has been writing recently.
Gilles Vigneault, dean of Quebec's Chansonniers, also brought the audience to its feet shouting for more.
And Ian and Sylvia, now backed by a country-style band called The Great Speckled Bird, got good response too.
As did others of the Canadians who made up the concert.
It was not mere nationalism, however. The balance and variety of the program was excellent, and the park setting promoted a friendly camaraderie in the big audience.
Joni showed a new versatility, moving from guitar to piano to play a new work, He Played Real Good For Free. The composition, she says, is based on a street-corner clarinetist in New York and typifies the impressionistic style of her work-drawn from everyday life.
A surprise at the festival was a solo performance by Alanis Obomsawin, a svelte Indian from the Odanak Reserve near Montreal, who sang both I her native language and in English some of the rarely-heard songs of the Indian people.
The three-day festival concludes Sunday night.
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