Monday, November 25, 2013

Baez on the Bayou

Last night I had a dream-come-true experience attending the third show of Joan Baez's "last-minute Louisiana junket" at One Eyed Jack's.

Despite the $60 ticket price - getting kinda bourgeois there, Joanie! - I decided to go after my mom, who resembled a Jewish Joan Baez in her youth, told me I likely wouldn't have too many more chances to see Queen B. Kinda macabre, but that's what you get from the Jewish Joan Baez.


Queen B
When I walked in, I was relieved to find I wasn't the only person in the crowd born after 1970, an unusual circumstance considering the careers of all my favorite musicians peaked during the Cold War.

[I did have to endure nonconsensual conversation with a Baby Booming idiot who, in discussing the ecological advocacy performance piece Cry You One, tried to convince me of the need to apply “a cost-benefit analysis to deal with" the environmental issues of the region. How about we analyze the cost of everyone in your family dying of preventable cancers to the benefit of petrochemical companies, pal?  Good thing the producers are considering an extended performance schedule - sounded like he needs to see the show a few more times.]

I enjoy a somewhat misplaced nostalgia for Joan's music, having for years reveled in recordings of her performances, while in school I studied the history of the time period when she became popular. To my delight, in concert Joan affected the political consciousness and signature wide-eyed, raised eyebrow expression she's used during key changes for decades.

The girl on the half-shell

New Orleans audiences appreciate when visiting artists make their sets personal, and one of the best things about folk singers is the relative absence of onstage ego. Joanie bantered charmingly about the difficulties of tuning her own guitar, and her partying in Breaux Bridge the day before ("It's the only place in the country where you can have breakfast and dance at the same time").

After admitting to Googling the lyrics right before the show, Joan sang “Stagger Lee,” and performed a serviceable two-step in the middle of another accordion-backed song. She graciously invited three talented Lafayette-based musicians, including the lovely Johanna Divine, to trade solos and share the spotlight for a few numbers. [I think if I were ever asked to sing with Joan Baez, let alone tune her guitar, I would probably lose consciousness.]
Joan's inclusion of fellow artists was endearingly folksy:

Bob Dylan, “with whom I will forever be inextricably stuck,”was referenced through at least four songs, during one of which Joan imitated the original vagabond's growl.
When someone in the crowd loudly and insistently requested "One Tin Soldier," Joan explained that it wasn't her song, and that people often mistake her for Judy Collins. "I have to say, 'Wrong!' when that happens," she sassed.
The queen closed her set with humble sing-a-long versions of John Lennon's "Imagine" and Dylan's "Forever Young." She signed two record sleeves, and a fan yelled out poignantly, "We all would have brought ours if they hadn't been flooded!"

Today’s soundtrack: "You Ain’t Goin' Nowhere" - which she played!! omg I died

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