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Interview:
Joan Baez at Meadow Brook, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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She may be known as a folk singer -- one of the world’s foremost and most prolific -- but this year Joan Baez got to be a rock ‘n’ roller.

The 76-year-old troubadour was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during April, a bit of a different environment for Baez although she did, lest we forget, play at festivals such as Woodstock, Live Aid and Conspiracy of Hope.

These days find Baez enjoying her legacy and painting, but also still recording. While she’s not writing songs much -- the new “Nasty Man” about Pres. Donald Trump being an exception -- Baez is still recording and anticipates having a new album out early next year. This summer, meanwhile, she’s joining forces with the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter for the Four Voices Tour, a collaborative effort that finds the quartet playing each other’s songs together...

• Of the Rock Hall induction, Baez says that, “I didn’t know it was such a big deal, so when I actually go there I figured out from everything everyone said it was a huge deal. And I had fun. They make you work; They make you do a seven-minute speech and sing three songs, and you don’t get any swag -- although I’ve got this 40-pound award and it’s really quite beautiful. It’s the only award I’ve ever stuck on my kitchen table for more than five minutes, put it that way.

• So is she rock ‘n’ roll? “It’s a little confusing calling me rock ‘n’ roll ‘cause I’m not, but I certainly am tied into just about everybody who was back then, and of course some who are still here and some new ones,” Baez notes. And the way it’s connected to me is they come up to me from all different groups and all different kinds of music, ‘Oh, you meant so much to me when I was growing up’ and ‘You started me playing my guitar,’ things like that. So there’s that strong connection, really.”

• For the Four Voices Tour, Baez has worked with the Indigo Girls and Chapin Carpenter in the past, so sharing a stage is natural for all four women. “We knew it sounded good and we knew that we liked each other, and we’ve done some work in the past beyond them just opening for me,” Baez says. “This tour is pretty short and comfortable. The hard work is deciding what songs we’re going to do, who’s going to sing what part. When we get together and do it, that’s the fun part.”

• “Nasty Man” was the first new song Baez has written in more than 20 years, and the dry spell is not by any sort of design. “No, I wish it were. It just turned off and I don’t know why, and if it isn’t coming from the right spot then it doesn’t work,” says Baez, who’s recording songs by Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Richard Thompson, Eliza Gilkyson, Antony & the Johnsons and others for her new album. “The songs just aren’t good. I mean, I’ve been writing for what, 40 years or something, then all of a sudden it wouldn’t work, so I better recognize that and not kill myself trying. So I’ve moved on and I’m painting.”

• Baez is getting ready for her first exhibition of paintings, during December in Mill Valley, Calif. “It’s different” than making music, she says. “I’m solo in there in the studio and I love it and I play whatever music or whatever podcast and I slash away at three or four (paintings) at the same time. I like to work that way.” Baez displays some works on her web site, and her exhibition will feature portraits of “people, most of whom I know, who have made social change through non-violence. Many of them have Nobel Peace Prizes. It all tied up nicely with a theme and a meaning, and we’ll see what happens.”



If You Go:

• Four Voices featuring Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter

• 8 p.m. Friday, June 9.

• Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

• Tickets are $39.50-$99.50 pavilion, $25 lawn.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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