The Linden Tree Coffeehouse opens their 34th season with a musical tribute to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell by two singer-songwriters, Allison Shapira and Kipyn Martin. Besides the similarity of their first names, Baez and Mitchell have quite a bit in common. Both women emerged during the folk movement of the 1960s. Both showed remarkable range as vocalists. Both proved that music could have a powerful impact, as an instrument of sociopolitical change or as means of personal expression.
The resonance these two remarkable women have had is the subject of “Joan & Joni,” the product of more than three years of musical friendship. Martin and Shapira met each other online when each singer was looking for a roommate for the annual conference of the Northeast Folk Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA). “We realized how much we had in common,” Shapira said. “We talked about our music and about our influences.”
Shapira said that she had always admired Baez, while Martin was a long-time Mitchell fan. “That made us think: What if we did a tribute to them? As soon as we had the name, ‘Joan & Joni,’ people started asking where they could buy tickets.” That reaction is understandable, according to Shapira. She noted that Baez has won admirers for her stance on social causes. “I’ve read her autobiography, and I understand the extent to which music and activism were connected throughout her life.”
Shapira said her favorite Baez song is “Diamonds and Rust,” which she praised for its “vivid imagery, its storytelling, and the raw emotion behind it.” Joan would take songs and interpret them in her own way,” Shapira said. “Her singing has so much power, so much authenticity. I appreciate how she uses a song to raise awareness.”
As for Mitchell, Shapira said that few songwriters have been able to take personal experiences and shape them into art that is so universally felt. In addition, Mitchell expanded the boundaries of song structure with jazz-like melodies and arrangements. “Kipyn does an amazing job interpreting Joni’s songs,” Shapira said. “Her version of ‘A Case of You’ is so real. You’re in the moment with her.”
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