Remembering Joni Mitchell at Newport Folk Festival

That’s right, the folk innovator was herself once a newcomer to the burgeoning scene, and of all venues, at the legendary Newport Folk Festival – the same one we’re bringing news from this weekend. Forty-five years ago this month, she walked on to a less than welcoming audience there, only to leave them mesmerized by her charm and unique guitar style. She performed a short set at the festival, but it included “Chelsea Morning” and “The Circle Game”, and was a hint of more to come from Mitchell, who at that time was breaking into the folk world in a big way. Just one year later, her debut Song to a Seagull was released, and a year after that, Clouds, which featured one of her biggest songs, “Both Sides, Now”.

Of course, Joni went on to folk stardom with Blue and Court and Spark, and her discography goes on. It’s well-remembered what she did for the folk music scene, and she is considered one of the most prominent female recording artists of the 20th century. Even as the lady from Alberta has receded into a private life practicing more visual art than music, her songs still harken back to the peaceful folk era and that first appearance at Newport almost a half-century ago.

By Jeffrey Taylor

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