There’s a field of tissues on my desk proper now as a result of it’s exhausting to not cry as I prepare to put in writing this.

I’m one of many fortunate ones.

I bought to see Joni Mitchell carry out a complete set of songs at Newport People Pageant on Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Each single day for the remainder of my life earlier than Sunday will now be thought of the “earlier than occasions.”

And never solely did I see her sing, I used to be entrance row, useless heart proudly carrying my JONI cap.

Let me be clear, what I’m about to share just isn’t bragging rights. That is coming from a spot of pure, unfettered (to make use of a Joni phrase) pleasure. It’s coming from a spot of shock, disbelief and profound gratitude.

And it’s coming from a chamber of my coronary heart that I didn’t know existed. One which has been ready for simply the precise second to open itself. One which has perpetually shifted what I assumed I knew concerning the dwell music expertise.

I can’t not doc the expertise and in the event you’re studying this, I in all probability don’t need to inform you the importance of Joni Mitchell. I imply my god…

However first, I have to share one thing. On April 24 of this yr my mom Louise was recognized with a really massive and really cancerous mind tumor. We misplaced her on Could 26 and her funeral was on June 6. I’m mentioning this as a result of shedding her, and the way in which we misplaced her, additionally opened up a brand new a part of my coronary heart.

These two new components converged on Sunday night time. The sorrow and the happiness collided and that salt from the various tears I shed that night time probably modified by DNA completely.

So there’s that.

Now then.

Right here’s what occurred.

First off, this was my fourth time attending the Newport People Pageant. My first was in 2018. Then got here 2019 and the Dolly Parton miracle. The six-day People On pageant of 2021 introduced with it the shock of Chaka Khan. By the way in which, I can be writing a separate factor about the remainder of the pageant! Coming quickly! I imply HELLO, PAUL SIMON!

Now the place was I?

Oh proper. Sunday night time.

Nothing may have ever ready me for Joni Mitchell.

The schedule for the ultimate efficiency of Sunday night time initially mentioned Brandi Carlile & Buddies nevertheless it later became two various things: Brandi Carlile & Buddies after which after a fast break The Coyote Set. “Coyote” is a monitor off of Mitchell’s “Hejira” album. Coincidence? Nah.

Yearly one of many enjoyable components of Newport People Pageant is to take a position based mostly on unconfirmed scorching ideas and runaway creativeness that the likes of perhaps Neil Younger or Taylor Swift will present up.

I imply shit man, the primary time I went, John Prine walked on stage to sing with Margo Value and shock act Mumford & Sons trotted out David Crosby for 2 songs.
In 2019 Kermit the Frog had 10,000 folks, together with Jim James from My Morning Jacket, singing alongside to “The Rainbow Connection” with him. That historic fort is sort of a subject of desires. Issues occur there.

So sure, there was chatter all weekend lengthy about the potential of Joni Mitchell exhibiting up with Carlile as a result of if anybody may make it occur it’s Brandi and her buddy, pageant director Jay Candy.

For one of many pageant days I didn’t even dare say Joni’s title aloud as I used to be legit nervous about jinxing something.

Plus I used to be totally caught up with seeing Natalie Service provider shock us with a pair of songs. I used to be caught up with being completely slayed by Madi Diaz and Rhiannon Giddens. And I used to be caught up with each nano second of The Roots.

The Roots ended their soul-quaking efficiency and shortly after, Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth, Phil Hanseroth and the remainder of her band hit us with a 5 track set that included “The Joke” and “You and Me on the Rock” with Holly and Jess from Lucius on backing vocals. Then Brandi instructed us all to sit down tight for simply a bit bit. Imagine you me, nobody was going ANYWHERE.

That’s when many individuals on that stage sprung into motion organising couches, fancy chairs and so many microphones. The set was adorned with flowers, stacks of books and several other flameless candles. It seemed like a front room. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS.

For the previous couple of years, Carlile had been sharing with followers that she was a part of a really particular circle of pals who would collect in Mitchell’s California house for Joni jams. People like Herbie Hancock, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Bonnie Raitt. Principally, from the way in which Carlile described it, Joni would crack jokes and take all of it in moderately than take part all that a lot.

As everyone knows, Mitchell had a mom of a well being scare in March of 2015. A mind aneurysm resulted in her having to relearn nearly every little thing. Keep in mind that? Bear in mind listening to the information and having time stand nonetheless since you couldn’t bear the considered Mitchell leaving this earth as a result of it simply wasn’t her time but. It was as scary because it will get.

Nonetheless…she persevered. Joni Mitchell was not almost accomplished gracing us together with her presence. And throughout the final yr, as we discovered on Sunday night time, Mitchell began doing one thing that I don’t suppose anybody, together with her, knew for positive would occur once more. Joni Mitchell began singing.

The solar gave solution to a cocoon of clouds and Brandi Carlile together with a number of musicians together with her band (SistaStrings, Josh Neumann, Shooter Jennings, Matt Chamberlain, Phil and Tim Hanseroth) together with Celisse, Allison Russell, Wynonna Judd, Rick Whitfield, Taylor Goldsmith, Marcus Mumford, Holly Laessig, Jess Wolfe, Ben Lesser and Blake Mills fashioned a semi-circle of perfection on that front room set.

Brandi Carlile learn a well-prepared speech which the event most definitely known as for. She spoke about issues like the facility of togetherness and the way it’s extra highly effective than any authorities and the way radical love is. “If we love each other we’d defend one different. ” She continued. “To energy buildings people music is and all the time has been completely fucking damaging. It’s a fact teller and it’s an influence killer.” For a number of minutes Carlile honored the significance of the pageant and the way the sense of neighborhood means a lot. She known as out locations like Solar Studios and Preservation Corridor. However when she talked about Laurel Canyon I felt a seismic shift within the universe. THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.

Then Brandi instructed us all concerning the Joni jams. “We’re right here to ask you into the lounge.” She instructed us about all of Joni’s pets and her many orchids and the hidden door to the lavatory. “We’re the solid and crew of the Joni Jams.” Then she instructed us the way it doesn’t really feel full with out Joni there to crack jokes and nod with approval. “How are we gonna have a Joni jam with out our queen?”

Then Brandi Carlile mentioned the 2 most essential phrases she’s ever mentioned: “WE’RE NOT!”

Please welcome again to the Newport stage for the primary time since 1969…JONI MITCHELL!”

And there she was. Flesh and blood. Love and lightweight. Slowly dancing her solution to her gold wingback throne positioned subsequent to Brandi’s. The 2 of them embraced whereas the remainder of us, followers and musicians alike misplaced our minds. Due to course we did.

Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile at Newport People Pageant. July 24, 2022. Photograph by Aimsel Ponti

Joni didn’t have to do something. She may have simply sat there in her blue beret and sun shades and brought all of it in. However she didn’t come all the way in which from the west coast to sit down there. It had been 53 years since she final sang at Newport and the primary track was “Carey.” Carlile sang the primary few phrases however then OH MY GOD JONI STARTED SINGING!!!!!! Let me say that louder for these folks within the again:
JONI STARTED SINGING.
I began trembling and I clutched the Celtic cross that belonged to my mom tightly. Was this actually occurring? WAS IT REALLY HAPPENING?

Joni Mitchell surrounded by a military of angels and in entrance of a shocked crowd was singing her track “Carey” with Brandi Carlile.

I misplaced it. I began crying and couldn’t cease for a number of minutes. My buddy Hilary put her arm on me as she too bought caught up within the second and the gravity of it.

My buddy Amy skillfully captured your entire set and as her clips are far superior to my very own I enthusiastically can be sharing a few of them. Right here’s “Carey” and know that I’m the gal who yelled out “Am I dreaming” as a result of I couldn’t assist myself. Amy Karibian’s dwell footage is the bomb. Observe her on YouTube and thank me later.

Joni Mitchell having the time of her life at Newport People Pageant. July 24, 2022. Photograph by Aimsel Ponti
Magic at Newport People Pageant. July 24, 2022. Photograph by Aimsel Ponti

Right here’s “Carey:”

lt may have been a one and accomplished deal and it could have been sufficient. Within the 90s I had tickets to see Mitchell in Massachusetts however for causes I can’t recall, the present was canceled. I by no means thought I’d have the possibility to see her dwell and was OK with that. It was sufficient to, as they are saying, be alive concurrently her. So sure, it actually would have been OK for her to have simply accomplished “Carey.”

BUT SHE WAS JUST GETTING STARTED!

Subsequent up was one other favourite Mitchell monitor (and yeah, I do know, most of her songs are favorites as a result of um, she’s Joni Mitchell). “Are available in from the Chilly” is from 1991’s “Evening Journey Residence.” Taylor Goldsmith and his golden voice sang it with Joni. A number of folks sang with Joni. Brandi, Holly and Jess to call a couple of. I used to be overwhelmed. It was overwhelming to face there singing alongside. OVERWHELMING.

Right here it’s:

Subsequent Joni took us again to 1974’s “Courtroom and Spark” with “Assist Me.” This was not only one or two fast songs. This was a goddamn live performance. A JONI MITCHELL CONCERT. This model of “Assist Me” featured celebrity Celisse shredding together with her pink electrical guitar whereas additionally slaying together with her vocals. The association was fairly totally different from the unique and as you’ll see under, totally superior. Jess and Holly’s “Didn’t it really feel items” did certainly really feel actually good. Jesus.

Then Joni made me cry once more. By now she’s made your entire planet cry as footage has been shared far and broad. Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile sat there and sang “A Case Of You” from Blue.

I don’t know what to say. Joni Mitchell sang probably the most lovely, poignant and heart-piercing songs ever written. Her track. HER SONG.

The chills I felt had chills. It was EVERYTHING.

Right here it’s:

“Thanks a lot” mentioned Joni with pure delight. Then Brandi instructed us it was occasion time. She instructed the Lucius women to wipe the tears from their eyes then it was off to the goddamn races with “Massive Yellow Taxi.” Holly and Jess did simply that and crushed it as a result of they all the time do. Joni was singing proper alongside as was Brandi as was EVERYONE. Joni even went low for the final line of “put up a parking zone.”

I MEAN MY GOD PEOPLE!

Singing wasn’t the one factor Joni Mitchell got here to Newport to try this night time. She picked up an electrical guitar and performed “Simply Like This Prepare” from “Courtroom and Spark.” Guitar was one of many more moderen abilities Mitchell needed to relearn and he or she defined throughout an interview on CBS that aired the day after Newport that she needed to watch movies of herself enjoying to assist her bear in mind the place to place her fingers. IT WORKED.

Subsequent was a track that Mitchell instructed us she beloved as a youngster by Frankie Lymon & the Youngsters and one which had been performed at Joni jams. At Newport, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” was pleasant and Rick Whitfield sang lead vocals in Newport. A number of us helped with the “ooh wahs”. Whitfield’s voice was fabulous and Carlile was proper there with him as was Mitchell.

In 1976 Joni Mitchell launched “Hejira” and in 2022 Taylor Goldsmith and Brandi Carlile sang “Amelia” from it together with her. Look, I’m beginning to run out of the way to explain how transcendent these songs have been.
It’s probably the most gigantic instance of “I can’t even….” I’ve ever identified.

Anyway…right here’s “Amelia:”

One other oldie that Mitchell adores is “Love Potion No. 9,” penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and made successful by The Clovers and particularly the Searchers with their 1964 recording of it.

Should you had instructed me that morning that I’d be seeing Joni Mitchell later that day I’d have been skeptical. And in the event you had instructed me I’d hear her sing “Love Potion No. 9” I positive as shit would have probably laughed in your face and despatched you to rehab.

However bear in mind, we have been within the subject of desires. Or on this case, the fort of desires. Joni took lead on a bunch of this tune. She and Carlile sang the road “I held my nostril, I closed my eyes…” then Mitchell went wayyyy down low and sang “I took a drink” and it was hilarious and once more I say…excellent.

Dig it:

The final studio album that Joni Mitchell launched was 2007’s “Shine” and the title monitor, for my part, is without doubt one of the strongest, most eloquent and essential songs in her astounding repertoire. The track is a prayer, a plea, a meditation, a poem and a hopeful incantation. I really feel so strongly about “Shine” that I’m gonna share a bunch of lyrics.

Oh, let your little gentle shine
Shine, shine, shine
Let your little gentle shine
Shine on good humor
Shine on good will
Shine on awful management
Licensed to kill
Shine on dying troopers
In patriotic ache
Shine on mass destruction
In some God’s title
Shine on the pioneers
These seekers of psychological well being
Craving simplicity
They traveled inward
Previous themselves
Let their little lights shine
Could all their little lights shine

SHE SANG IT AT NEWPORT. When Carlile launched the track I may have collapsed. Brandi took lead however Mitchell was proper there, clear and powerful. My shoulders shook. I don’t understand how I made it via the track with out evaporating in some sort of mystical rapture. Someplace within the clouds above Fort Adams there are molecules floating round with notes of “Shine” connected to them. Songs are like tattoos, lest we neglect.

Three extra songs to inform you about.

The subsequent one requires a fast, private context story.

On the final day of college after I was in both first of second grade there was an meeting and the lecturers placed on a range present for us. Considered one of my lecturers, Mrs. McDougal (hope I’m spelling that proper…it’s been a minute) sang “Summertime” from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” I had by no means heard something prefer it earlier than and I nonetheless bear in mind it. I’m not exaggerating after I say that it a key second of my childhood that made me into such a music lover. I swear to god. Since all these billions of years in the past, that track has held a particular place in my coronary heart. In 1998 Herbie Hancock launched the album “Gershwin’s World” which incorporates “Summertime” with Mitchell on vocals. I didn’t find out about this till about quarter-hour in the past. ANYWAY…Joni sang it at Newport.

I quietly sang alongside but additionally was suspended in a state of surreal surprise. What is occurring? Joni Mitchell is singing “Summertime.” I’VE COME FULL CIRCLE. And he or she didn’t simply sing it. SHE FUCKING SANG THE SHIT OUT OF IT. I’m watching and listening to the clip as I sit right here and nonetheless can’t imagine it.

Right here’s “Summertime:”

In Could of 1969 I wasn’t alive but however Joni Mitchell launched her “Clouds” album. On it’s the track first made well-known by Judy Collins, who, by the way, is the one who introduced Mitchell to Newport for the primary time in 1967. “Each Sides Now” is simply a kind of songs. It’s one that almost all of us by no means tire of. It’s extraordinary and emotional EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I imply Christ, even on an excellent day that track can dismantle me. Each line of “Each Sides Now” is a murals. Oh man, I’m shedding it once more watching the clip from Sunday. The dizzy dancing method that I felt certainly was one thing that may all the time be with me. In the course of the happiest moments and those the place I’m clutching that cross and lacking my mom badly.

Goals and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve checked out life that method.

When Joni began singing “Each Sides Now” at Newport, Brandi Carlile put her hand on her personal coronary heart. All of us did in a single type or one other.

Oh Joni, Joni, Joni. What would we ever do with out you?

I actually don’t know life in any respect however I do know this: Joni Mitchell at Newport People Pageant was probably the most important second of dwell music I’ve ever identified, and truthfully, I’ve had a number of them. I’m fortunate. However this. THIS. That is the sort of second that explains to me why I sacrificed sleep to get to the fort on the morning time and stand for hours to carry my sacred spot. It’s why, through the years, I’ve gone to nice lengths to see dwell music and to assist the artists I really like so dearly.

Music is every little thing. It’s every little thing. And Joni Mitchell is on the very core of this.

Right here’s “Each Sides Now:”

However that’s not all. There was another track. Brandi Carlile, Joni Mitchell and a stage stuffed with first fee musicians despatched us house with a sing-along.

In 1970 Mitchell launched “Girls of the Canyon.” It’s a kind of excellent albums. And it’s house to “The Circle Sport.”

Earlier than the track began there was a earth-shaking “Joni Joni Joni” chant. That occurred.

And the seasons, they go spherical and spherical
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We will’t return, we are able to solely look
Behind, from the place we got here
And go spherical and spherical and spherical, within the circle sport

I couldn’t assist however sing alongside (quietly) as I stood there realizing that tomorrow would really feel totally totally different. (It positive did).

I’m not the identical individual I used to be after I wakened on Sunday morning. Neither are my pricey pals who have been by me at that railing in Newport.

Right here’s “The Circle Sport:”

I’ve to inform you two extra issues that occurred that night time. Each I’ll by no means fairly recover from as a result of they have been unreal.

As I mentioned, my pals and I bought there early and bought spots entrance and heart in opposition to the railing on the Fort stage. Level being is that it was a straight line between me and Joni. Final yr I purchased a blue cap with huge yellow letters that say JONI on it. I LOVE it and solely put on it on particular events. Clearly this was certainly one of them. Joni Mitchell noticed it and smiled at me and pointed it out. I smiled again. However then one thing else occurred. I flashed her the “I LOVE YOU” hand image AND SHE DID IT BACK TO ME. I can’t even… I actually can’t. I totally perceive that Joni Mitchell is a human being identical to the remainder of us however perceive that her music means the world to me and to have that temporary second with one my heroes meant so, a lot, particularly now with my coronary heart so freshly fragile.

Joni Mitchell at Newport People Pageant. July 24, 2022. Photograph by Adam Shanker

The opposite factor that occurred I’m additionally in full shock over.

Proper when the present ended and I used to be nonetheless standing there (questioning what on earth I used to be going to do with the remainder of my life) one thing totally sudden occurred. A gentleman from the stage walked over to in entrance of the place I used to be and pointed at me. Then he gently tossed me one of many candles AND THEN A SETLIST. I used to be speechless. I don’t know who he was but when ever he sees this by some miracle I hope he is aware of how grateful I’ll all the time be for these absolute TREASURES.

Candle and setlist from Joni Mitchell’s efficiency at Newport People Pageant. July 24, 2022.

And there it’s. My humble providing of what it was prefer to bear witness to Joni Mitchell’s first dwell efficiency in lots of, a few years and her first time at Newport since 1969.

THANK YOU, Jay Candy for making Newport People Pageant what it’s. You’re a celebrity.

THANK YOU, Brandi Carlile for every little thing you do to make the world a greater place. Out of your music to your activism to the way in which you elevate others up, you’re a hero of mine. Really.

THANK YOU, Joni Mitchell for probably the most outstanding night time of my life. Your gentle is powerful as is your coronary heart and soul. Your phrases make my life higher. Should you ever determine to let a low-impact, low upkeep music journalist into certainly one of your Joni Jams, my schedule is immediately clear.

By the way in which, you haven’t lived till you’ve heard Joni Mitchell chuckle. She did this a number of occasions whereas on that stage in Newport. It was among the many most divine and pleasant sounds I’ve ever heard.

There’s now just one title left on my bucket record.

Hey Kate Bush. Hello!!

Ponti out.

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