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Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest

Michael S 25 Feb 09 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Feb 09 - 04:12 PM
Don Firth 25 Feb 09 - 04:27 PM
Tangledwood 25 Feb 09 - 04:35 PM
Michael S 25 Feb 09 - 04:40 PM
Uncle Phil 25 Feb 09 - 06:07 PM
Michael S 25 Feb 09 - 06:10 PM
Ernest 26 Feb 09 - 01:36 PM
Ernest 26 Feb 09 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,LBJ 26 Feb 09 - 03:59 PM
Michael S 26 Feb 09 - 05:31 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 26 Feb 09 - 08:00 PM
Uncle Phil 27 Feb 09 - 08:44 AM
Nick 28 Feb 09 - 05:40 AM
Ref 28 Feb 09 - 08:55 AM
GUEST 28 Feb 09 - 12:48 PM
Uncle Phil 28 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM
Michael S 02 Mar 09 - 01:18 PM
Michael S 02 Mar 09 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,spitzboo2 21 May 12 - 10:01 PM
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Subject: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 02:50 PM

It's an old-folks folk festival. This week, in separate and unrelated concerts, I'm seeing performances by Joan Baez (tonight), Judy Collins (Saturday), and Richard Thompson (Sunday). I see a reasonable amount of live music, but I never see so many major touring artists in a single week (or a single month, or a single quarter).

Baez is in a 1200 seat theatre, but Collins is in a 300-seater and Thompson is playing two sold out nights in a 135 seat room. I'm very excited. My wife, who is accompanying me, would prefer attending just one of these (any one)--but she accepts my enthusiasm with good humor. (Age 51, she asks if this means it's now time for us to acquire sensible shoes and start buying early bird dinners).

--Michael Scully
--Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:12 PM

I hope you have a great time, Michael.

Juat a word - I went to hear Judy Collins in Lawrence, Kansas once. (U of Kansas Lied Center). The concert was so painfully loud that we had to leave. People were shouting from the audience and speaking to the soundman, but to no avail.

So go, but take along hearing protection, just in case.


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:27 PM

I heard Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem at the University of Washington a couple decades ago and the sound system was turned up so loud it was downright painful. Some people left after the first couple of songs. I toughed it out, but my ears rang for a couple of days.

Why do they think they have to do that!!???

I took in The Chieftains at the same venue a couple of months before, and everything was mellow. Loud and clear, but the shooters' Lee Sonics ear valves were not necessary.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Tangledwood
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:35 PM

"The concert was so painfully loud that we had to leave."
"and the sound system was turned up so loud it was downright painful."


That seems to be getting more and more common. I wonder if they'll start to get the message if everybody in the audience wore earphone style hearing protectors?


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:40 PM

I have a very mild hearing deficiency in one ear, so it's good to carry some plugs (which I will). But I'm not dwelling on that risk. Today, I'm just looking forward to seeing/hearing some of my old favorites and expecting a great time. I saw Baez about five years ago and she was both in good voice and very funny. She brought out a great deal of reading material about the foibles/horrors of George W, which she milked for all their comic worth. One older couple walked out. This is Texas, and I remember wondering, "Are they tired, bored, or could they possibly have been unaware that Joan Baez would be political?" The entire balance of the audience appeared with her 100%.

--Michael Scully


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:07 PM

Hi Michael -
We saw Joan Baez last night here in Dallas and you are in for a treat. Here are a couple snapshots from last night to whet your appetite.
http://www.geocities.com/phil_doubleu/LiveMusic/pages/JoanBaez_2.htm

http://www.geocities.com/phil_doubleu/LiveMusic/pages/JoanBaez.htm
She was very engaging and funny, and brought a very fine group of musicians with here. Enjoy the show, we can compare notes later.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:10 PM

Thanks, Phil. I'm going to get ready.

--Michael


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Ernest
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 01:36 PM

If it is really loud, take your chance to shoot the soundguy and get away unnoticed....

;0)
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Ernest
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 01:37 PM

...it`s Texas, after all...

;0)
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: GUEST,LBJ
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 03:59 PM

Dude, Texas or not Joan would probably disapprove!


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:31 PM

Well, the volume at Joan's show was just fine. My wife and I had a great time. After 50 years, Joan seems to know her audience perfectly. It was like being in folk revival church on Pete Seeger's birthday. At the risk of getting slammed, I'd suggest that her ability to sustain notes is not QUITE what it was at her peak. But she's 68-years-old. Her voice was astonishingly beautiful and has held up far better than that of most of her contemporaries. Virtually perfect.

There was far less overt politics than at the concert I attended 5 years ago. But back then, we were deep into the frustrating and depressing W years. We needed Joan to be political. Today, despite the dire economy and world situation, Obama's made many of us more hopeful. Joan's humorous patter was mostly about her own musical history--our history. She even told an off color joke--a funny one--just for the hell of it.

The music spanned the decades. I can't recall everything but there was Silver Dagger from her first album, several Dylan pieces, her "greatest hits" (Honest Lullaby, Diamonds and Rust, There but for Fortune, Night they Drove Old Dixie Down, Love Song to a Stranger, Long Black Veil, Gracias a la Vida, maybe some more that you know), a Carter Family tune, Sam Cooke's Wonderful World, Donovan's Catch the Wind, songs from Steve Earle, Eliza Gilkyson, and some others. The band took its closing bow right at the 90 minute mark, performed a two-song encore, and punched out after 100 minutes. I could have gone another 20 minutes, but it satisfied and she wasn't charging rock legend prices. Much fun--a good memory. On to Saturday and Judy Collins.

--Michael Scully
--Austin


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 08:00 PM

Michael, please be sure to report how that concert goes. I love Joan and Judy, and am so glad to see that first-rate goods are still being delivered. If you've never read Baez's memoirs And A Voice To Sing With, do. It's terrific. She still looks great too -


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 08:44 AM

I'm glad ya'll enjoyed the show in Austin as much as we enjoyed the show in Dallas. I thought her voice was fine though she only soared off into her upper range a couple times during the evening, memorably during Dylan's Forever Young. It sounds like the same show we saw, as one would expect on successive nights, though the Dallas show ran a bit longer.

On to Saturday and Judy Collins. I saw her at a festival last summer and she put on a great show with great poise under trying circumstances. We were on top of a hill surrounded by lightening storms in the distance; the crowd soaking wet and muddy because of rain earlier in the evening. The sound system blew during her first song. Ms Collins was unflustered by the circumstances and went on to put on a great show. The show was a tour of her musical career, and seemed to me to be more scripted than Ms Baez's show. One superficial difference between the shows was that Ms Collins dressed up for the show in contrast to Ms Baez's jeans and vest. You've got another great night of music coming up. Wish I could be there.

Preview snapshots from last summer's show:
http://www.geocities.com/phil_doubleu/LiveMusic/pages/Judy_Collins.htm
http://www.geocities.com/phil_doubleu/LiveMusic/pages/Judy_Collins_02.htm
http://www.geocities.com/phil_doubleu/LiveMusic/pages/Judy_Collins_03.htm
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Nick
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 05:40 AM

I saw Judy Collins was in London in 1969 and she was wonderful - still sings well after 40 years.


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Ref
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 08:55 AM

It may just be perception, but I saw both of them in the same festival a few years ago and Joan was by far the superior of the two. Joan has adapted her performance to the changes age has made in her voice and, at that show, seemed utterly comfortable with the large audience. She interacted with people in the crowd and made sure her back-ups all got introduced and given a time in the spotlight. She was clearly a "Mama" for her younger colleagues. Judy, in contrast, seemed brittle, focused on her microphone, and determined to sing her old standards the same way she'd always done, with no understanding that her voice wouldn't carry them anymore. Perhaps it was just a bad time for her. I understand the two of them have little use for each other, dating back to a wicked spoof of Collins' self-important performing Baez did back in the sixties.

Joan is also capable of riding a high horse, but she leavens it with some humorous self awareness.


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 12:48 PM

I saw Baez in Phoenix just before the Texas dates & it was a very good show. Sound was fine & song selection was about the same as noted above, although she didn't sing "Wonderful World" which I would have enjoyed I'm sure.
Re the comments about Judy Collins above, she was never a favourite of mine & I think she sees herself as "arty".

At the risk of opening a whole new can of beans & thread ..............
I'm guessing that the reason she was performing in a 300 seat theatre rather than the bigger venues that Baez plays is that a) she probably can't fill the bigger theatres, b) the smaller venue was probably an "arts council" event, with a lot of grant money available & therefore didn't have to show a profit. Judy Collins does quite a few concerts with symphony orchestras & I'm sure those shows must have a lot of funding


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM

Hey, as long as the beans are refried...

Their performing styles, when I saw them, couldn't have been more different. Ms. Collins swept onto the stage immaculately gowned and coifed (good word, coifed) while Ms. Baez just walked out in her jeans, said hi, and started singing. As mentioned above Ms. Collins show seemed to be scripted, while Ms. Baez seemed spontaneous and really is funny at times. I assume that the off-color joke Michael mentioned is the same one that Ms. Baez told in Dallas. I doubt that Ms. Collins ever used that joke in her act.

Musically I thought they were both very good, though presented differently. Ms. Collins accompanied herself on twelve-string and piano (a full-sized concert grand on that muddy Oklahoma hilltop), with one other musician who also played the piano. Ms. Baez had a ripping good band with her who joined in on vocals, and pretty much stayed in a comfortable singing range. Ms. Collins was in fine voice when I saw her and did her songs as I remember them from the radio, though maybe a little wobbly in places. As a matter of personal taste I like Ms. Baez's folksier repertoire better than Ms.Collins' artsier repertoire.
- Phil

Truth in Advertising: I've always enjoyed both Baez and Collins' music, but am not a rabid fan of either. I've never owned any of their recordings, though my wife has Judy Collins Greatest Hits that she likes. I went to see Baez because I was gifted with tickets and saw Ms. Collins as one of many acts at a festival.


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 01:18 PM

I wanted to follow through. Thanks to all for indulging my concert "reviews." I don't own any Judy Collins albums, though my older sister owned Wildflowers way back when. I've seen her twice previously. Once in college (early 70s), in what I remember as very much a contemporary folk, singer-songwriter-style show. I loved it, and recall a very powerful song about the Attica prison rebellion that I've never heard again. A few years ago I saw her do several short sets at the folk alliance conference. It was all fairly informal and, again, I thought she was great. I know a fair amount of her repertoire through osmosis.

Her show on Saturday was a big disappointment. Yes, she presented herself very differently than Baez. Joan had a roots band with her, and her very professional show had a rootsy feel. (I do think it was "scripted" in that there was clearly a set list and I'm sure her patter was carried from show to show. Didn't bother me. She was engaging and I know it's a show.) As others have said, Judy had more of a self-consciously "artsy" feel. (And Judy did "dress up" a bit more than Joan, but that's neither here nor there. They both looked fine.) Judy's voice was still beautiful much of the time. Unlike Joan, she reached often for the high end of her range, and I found her voice up there to be horribly shrill. Still, that wasn't the problem.

The show was a cabaret act, without a folk or roots feel. Standing alone, I'm OK with that. Much of her repertoire lends itself to that treatment. Unfortunately, it was a very bad cabaret act. Her lone accompanist played a grand piano and he was quite accomplished technically. He sounded great on Who Knows Where the Time Goes, but when they played the "rootsier" (ahem) Country Roads (by John Denver) he was all wrong, and his frenetic playing overshadowed her voice and rendered her guitar a nullity. (I confess I've always found the song a bit lame.) When he sang harmony, he sounded like a Bill Murray satire on Saturday Night Live--very affected. The Beatles' When I'm 64 was done as a sing-along and had a predictably novelty feel. More frenetic piano, and I saw no need for her to say, in effect, "we're all old(er) now, but gosh can't we still have fun." That was a constant and boring theme of her patter. Judy talked A LOT between numbers. She hawked her records on stage, which I don't like in such a established artist. Worst crime of all-- it was over in 65 minutes. With her yakking, she maybe played 8 songs. It was unforgivable--top tickets were $60 plus $11 of those famous "convenience charges." I actually felt ripped off. Despite feeling she wasn't all that good, I wanted more. Emotionally, I cut the performance a lot of slack. This was Judy Collins--one of the greats, and I kept wanting her to redeem herself with a sudden string of great performances. Then she said "thanks, you're wonderful, good night."

A guest asked if this was a non-profit arts-council presentation. It was. This little theatre is set up as a non-profit and the founding directors (husband and wife musicians) present "multi-cultural" schools shows around the area. But they also present a full array of commercial concerts, many by well-known jazz and "world music" artists. Prices are always high and I'd never gone there before. There were two shows--separately ticketed at 7 and 9:30, so they were selling 600 seats. I saw the early show, so I figured we'd get 90 minutes. The second set is no excuse for the brevity. You have to give your audience fair value, so the venue and the performer have to work it out accordingly. (Starting on time would have helped.)

Tonight, I'll offer a shorter (I promise) note about last night's Richard Thompson show, which lasted over two hours, cost less, and was absolutely fantastic. Cheers to all.

Michael Scully
Austin


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: Michael S
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 07:18 PM

Anyone who hasn't yet seen Richard Thompson--go when you can. Before Sunday, I hadn't had the pleasure. For over two hours, he performed songs from his Fairport days through his current work. He's a powerful singer and a truly great guitarist. He often plays with a band, but the other night he was alone with an acoustic guitar. At times, he sounded like a rock and roll band, and I like rock bands. He closed with a rousing solo version of "Substitute," best known as a Who song. A great show.

--Michael Scully


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Subject: RE: Baez, Collins, Thompson: old-folks fest
From: GUEST,spitzboo2
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:01 PM

Comparing the voices of Baez and Collins is like comparing apples to oranges or Roses to Lilies.
Who can objectively say that one is better than the other?


I've seen both at the height of their vocal abilities, leaving the theater absolutely exhilarated and inspired by their passion, art and humanity.
Unfortunately I've also been to a concert or two of both that, while still good, left me less than thrilled.

I appreciate both tremendously as artists.
I own all of the books that they both have written and every record and CD ever released on which they've performed.
I've seen Joan perform eleven times and I've seen Collins perform three.
I have been moved to tears by the poignancy of a particular song done by each in concert.

I've never left the theater feeling cheated, for both still are consummate professionals who take their performances and audiences very seriously. The durability of their voices is evidenced by their careers, which in both cases have spanned more than over half a century.

I'm sorry that unfortunately Collin's high notes on the night that you attended were "horribly shrill".
The way I look at it though, Collins (like Baez) is human and they both have had (and have) bad days just like you or I.

More importantly though as a folk musician myself,I still would have admired her great courage as a performer to even try and attempt to go way up into the "stratosphere" (now vocally easily surpassing Joan's upper range Soprano) in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people in concert.
Also, though the notes may have sounded at times "Shrill" to you, she obviously could still reach them.
To not only reach and sustain these extremely high notes, but also to hold these notes for a length of time with such volume, truly remains still awe inspiring to me as a singer, even after all these years.

The purity and clarity still found in Collin's voice remains.
Baez's voice has become more mellow, warm and dark, her voice becoming burnished over time.
They both for me have the ability to make an old song sound new and for the simplest of melodies to sound whole and complete.   
Collins,like Baez, has a voice that despite (or because of) the many changes it has gone through over the decades, has found within each new vocal formation a whole new direction in which it's beauty and passion can best be expressed.
Baez of course would be the more prominent example. Her "achingly pure Soprano" now has found new depth in her Mezzo Soprano and Alto ranges.
Regardless of any and all vocal changes though,a beauty of sound, a gift for expressiveness and the use of excellent vocal technique could (and still can) always be expected from both and still be found.

Their unwavering beliefs in positive social change and their calls for civil action have never changed and have remained sincere and unaltered throughout their personal and public lives,adding credence and credibility to not only the sincerity and emotive power of their music, but to the respect and love of many throughout the world who have found strength and hope within their songs, as well.    .   

In my estimation, Baez and Collins are without peer.
No one today or since has matched the quality of their voices, the longevity of their careers or has made the social impact that both have brought to this planet to make it a better and safer place to live.


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