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Watch Joni Mitchell Play a Surprise Set at Newport Folk Festival and Absolutely Shred Print-ready version

The "Joni Jam" featured Brandi Carlile, Marcus Mumford, Allison Russell, Wynonna Judd, Blake Mills, members of Lucius and more

by Megan LaPierre
Exclaim.ca
July 25, 2022

Festival goers at this year's edition of the long-running Newport Folk Fest were treated to an incredibly rare treat this weekend: a surprise performance from Joni Mitchell.

During the fest's closing set - curated by Brandi Carlile, who served as an artistic director for the MusiCares Person of the Year gala which honoured Mitchell in April - at Fort Stage yesterday (July 24), the legendary singer-songwriter played 13 songs in her first full-length performance since 2000. It was Mitchell's first Newport Folk Festival appearance since 1969.

Aside from doing a couple songs at the aforementioned gala a few months back, Mitchell has been both effectively retired and elusive from the public eye, particularly after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. She reportedly explained this to the Newport crowd after Carlile welcomed her to the stage during the set, billed as "Brandi Carlile and Friends."

Inspired by both the community spirit of folk music and the private "Joni Jam" nights the Canadian has held at her home in Los Angeles home in recent years, Mitchell and Carlile were joined by a cast of collaborators and friends, including the recently sons-less Marcus Mumford, Allison Russell, Wynonna Judd, Blake Mills, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, Taylor Goldsmith and more. They all gathered 'round Mitchell, who sang from a Louis XIV-style chair except to shred the "Just Like This Train" electric guitar solo she had apparently been working on.

Last December, the icon offered a health update when she became one of the first Canadians to accept Kennedy Center Honors. "I've had to come back several times from things," she said, gesturing to her polio diagnosis at age nine. "And this last one was a real whopper. But, you know, I'm hobbling along but I'm doing all right!"

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Added to Library on July 25, 2022. (1948)

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