— the Music & Lyrics we'll never forget
Over fifty years ago, Joni Mitchell embarked upon an artistic journey that pushed the boundaries of contemporary folk, rock, pop and jazz. Singer, songwriter, painter, poet, activist and voice of a generation, Joni was inspired by Rachmaninoff, grew up with folk music in the 60s, fought against injustice in the 70s, took an autobiographical turn in the 80s and pursued reinvention in the 90s.
"I paint my joy and sing my sorrow," she once said. Joni's insight, honesty and sheer talent allowed her to express what many people struggle for a lifetime to articulate, giving us lyrics we'll never forget, and building a large following of those who feel her music speaks directly to their core beings, relationships and experiences.
Throughout her long career Joni turned her most intimate feelings and experiences into a universal, and often risky, public expression of art. She survived polio as a child; taught herself to play piano and guitar; dropped out of art school; as an unwed mother moved to Toronto and gave up her daughter for adoption; moved from Canada to Detroit; subsequently moved to New York City to play her music in small clubs and bailed out of a brief, unhappy first marriage.
Over the years her songs shared the joy and pain of falling in and out of love – often with musicians and artists she worked with – Chuck Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, David Crosby, Graham Nash, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Sam Shepard, Larry Klein, Dave Guerin, Jaco Pastorius, et. al.
In March 2015, Joni was hospitalized with a brain aneurysm. With the same tenacity she displayed when conquering the male-dominated music business, she has endured physical therapy and regained her ability to function and converse, although now, at 75, her singing days are probably over.
JONI 75 was captured live over two nights at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. By definition, live performances are real-time documentaries. This one transcends the typical concert film and is more in tune with Kennedy Center artist celebration events. The affair included projection of Mitchell's paintings, vintage photos, audio clips from interviews with Joni, plus behind-the-scenes conversations with the artists – adding a cinema vérité feel as the music tracked her career.
Completing the stylization, the set was designed to resemble Mitchell's rustic Canadian cabin, with a canoe hanging from the rafters, plus table lamps, home decor, sofas and rugs spread across the stage where many of the performers hung out throughout the night, popping off a couch to join in on back-up vocals, like a jam session.
The two-hour film features performances by Brandi Carlile; Glen Hansard; Emmylou Harris; Norah Jones; Chaka Khan; Diana Krall; Kris Kristofferson; Los Lobos with La Marisoul, Cesar Castro & Xochi Flores; Graham Nash; James Taylor; Seal; and Rufus Wainwright.
Led by Joni's drummer Brian Blade and pianist Jon Cowherd, the house band is equally talented. Greg Leisz's pedal steel guitar and Ambrose Akinmusire's trumpet (shades of Miles Davis), Bob Sheppard's sax and woodwinds (evoking Mitchell veterans Tom Scott and Wayne Shorter), Jeff Haynes' percussion, Christopher Thomas on bass and Marvin Sewell on guitar were all key to continuity throughout, aided by guest work from violinist Scarlet Rivera.
The producers and performers were savvy enough to know that recreating Joni's work would be a serious challenge – Mitchell's shape-shifting phrasing, tricky rhythms, introspective tone and jazz-inflected complexities are nigh-impossible to copy. Instead, the assembly of accomplished artists offered inspired and heartfelt personal interpretations that moved the audience, and Joni.
In the finale, the ensemble performance of Big Yellow Taxi meshed with Joni's appearance on stage, presentation of a birthday cake and continuation of Taxi as Joni stood and swayed with the music. This was a magical night for all at the Chandler Pavilion – and will be for you too – screening one night only at the Garfield on February 7, don't miss it!
☀ Official program book from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Joni bio and photos; essays on her music; song list and descriptions; featured artist bios; band bios; birthday wishes; credits and more. Best viewed full screen on a large monitor.
JONI 75 setlist:
1. Court and Spark - Norah Jones
2. Coyote - Glen Hansard
3. For The Roses - Diana Krall
4. Blue - Rufus Wainwright
5. Cold Blue Steel - Emmylou Harris
6. The Magdalene Laundries - Emmylou Harris
7. Help Me - Chaka Khan
8. Dreamland - Los Lobos
9. Nothing Can Be Done - Los Lobos with La Marisoul, Cesar Castro & Xochi Flores
10. River - James Taylor
11. Both Sides Now - Seal
1. Our House - Graham Nash
2. A Strange Boy - Seal
3. All I Want - Rufus Wainwright
4. Borderline - Norah Jones
5. Amelia - Diana Krall
6. The Boho Dance - Glen Hansard
7. A Case of You - Kris Kristofferson and Brandi Carlile
8. Down To You - Brandi Carlile
9. Two Grey Rooms - Chaka Khan
10. Woodstock - James Taylor
Finale, Big Yellow Taxi & Happy Birthday - ensemble cast
☀ The Music Center presents JONI 75: A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, director Martyn Atkins; Trafalgar Releasing; 2018; USA; English; 120 minutes.
☀ DATE & TIME:
Wednesday, February 27, 7 PM
Venue opens at 6:00; seating at 6:30.
the GARFIELD THEATRE, 719 Race St, Cincinnati 45202.
☀ PARKING & DIRECTIONS:
Parking Options Google Map Drone View
Ample parking at affordable rates — 1,700+ garage spaces within two blocks ‐ Gramercy Garage (next door, enter via Race, 7th or Elm streets), Garfield Garage (9th St., next to the Phoenix) and Macy's Garage (7th Street). Another 363 surface lot spaces within a couple blocks, plus numerous on-street meters.
Other transport options include the Street Car, Metro, Tank, Uber, Red Bike, etc.
Adult general admission, $15 advance, $20 door.
Student/ArtsPass general admission, $12 advance, $16 door — must show valid ID upon arrival.
☀ ADA ACCESS: Revamped and improved ADA access, with a direct path to wheelchair spaces and companion seats (no ramps, no stairs). Individuals using walkers or wheelchairs should call ahead to let us know your screening date and time, (859) 957-3456.
☀ DINING & LIBATIONS:
It couldn't be easier — across the street from the Garfield, you'll find the Butcher & Barrel, home of delicious shareables, salads, entrees and desserts, plus excellent wine, craft beer and mixed drinks. General Manager Randy Procter is offering CWC patrons an inaugural 15% discount on your order, excluding alcohol.
You'll need your online ticket purchase confirmation or ticket stub from the event. Discount valid only for the date of ticket.
Enjoy a pre- or post-film meal or coffee and dessert, or hang at the bar. Hours: TUE-THS - Dining, 5-10 pm; bar 3:30 - midnight. FRI-SAT - Dining 5-11 pm; bar 3:30 - 2:30. SUN - Dining 5-9 pm; bar 3:30 - 1-pm. Dinner reservations are recommended, call 513-954-8974. Check out the menus and photos: thebutcherbarrel.com.