Joni Mitchell speaks! In public! In Toronto!
Tuesday the Luminato Festival confirmed that the reclusive, Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter will not only appear as a guest at two concerts in her honour next month, she has also consented to an onstage interview.
Mitchell, accompanied by drummer/occasional music collaborator Brian Blade, will be interviewed June 16 at 6 p.m. by Jon Pareles, chief pop music critic for The New York Times. The conversation, part of the live Times Talks series at Luminato 2013, will take place at Isabel Bader Theatre at the University of Toronto, with a live webcast to luminatofestival.com and nytimes.com/artsbeat.
On June 18 and 19, Mitchell, who turns 70 in November, will be in the audience in downtown Toronto for Joni: A Portrait in Song – A Birthday Happening Live at Massey Hall. Among the performing artists are Chaka Khan, Rufus Wainwright, Kathleen Edwards, Glen Hansard and, on the second night only, Herbie Hancock and Esperanza Spalding. The artists will be backed by a band anchored by Blade, with Bill Frisell and Marvin Sewell on guitars and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, among others.
While the tribute concerts, a world premiere, have been on Luminato's books for many months, it's been an open secret that the festival's artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt has been strenuous in his efforts to spark the honoree's presence and participation. In a statement issued Tuesday, Weisbrodt enthused: "Everything I dreamed of when we started on this journey, immediately after last year's celebration of Kate McGarrigle's music … has come true."