souls and surely you touched mine..."
enriched - this was a perfect evening of nostalgia for the many massive Joni
fans there in the packed audience concert hall to hear Joni Michell's Hejira album - now set to new Scottish words
by the author James Robertson. Joni
wrote this album while driving solo from Miami
to LA ,on both the freedom and loneliness of the road.
*The first SET was the Scots
Re-imagining of Hejira
Author James Robertson began the night. He
said after travelling in America,
seeing Joni live and buying the album, Hejira was now "in his bones" - so this
was an instinctive project for him to re-imagine her words into the Scots
language. He had already written the
first Scots adaptation twenty years ago and was encouraged by Celtic's director
Donald Shaw's wish to bring more spoken word into the festival.
folk singer and musician, Karine Polwart
and her brother guitarist Steven Polwart,
were central to organising this concert. Karine,
herself a talented singer song writer gave careful performance with her
four of the tracks - Tod(Coyote),
Hoolet(Black Crow), The Find(Hejira) and Columba(Amelia) when she was thrilled to be joined
onstage by the renowned Grammy winning guitarist Larry Carlton, who has worked with many of the greats in music -
including Joni's Hejira.
performed the track Pie
Jock(Furry Sings). While
Rod Paterson delighted with his
deeper vocals and a humorous rendition of Kippenrait(Strange boy)and also languorous Grey in Grez (Blue Motel).
spoken word on a moving tribute, Sang for Joni(Song for Sharon. Karine, Annie and Rod sang Pilgrimer(Refuge of the Road).
*The second SET was some favoured
Olivia Chaney interpreted well two of Joni's best
loved classics on piano A
Case of You, Women of Heart and Mind.
singer Julie Fowlis sang in English Cactus Tree and River with strings and expressed well the
vulnerability and poignancy of her voice.
singer Kathryn Joseph, performed the
Night House and the
Sides Now with her
delicate timing and ethereal voice. Canadian
singer Rose Cousins, challenged
herself well to sing Joni's haunting Blue.
With all the
talented female line up on stage they then performed the more hopeful and embracing
songs The Fiddle
and the Drum, followed
by Free Man In
Paris - and after a
standing ovation a lovely encore of the Circle Game. All five women performers clearly showed their
awe, love and respect for how much Mitchell has influenced their own songs and
This was a
night of delightful harmony and memories - both the joy and the pain of those
journeys. With a great expanse of subtle
light and shade and movement in the music.
For this album Joni blended her folk, rock and jazz influences. Well done to the entire cast for such an
memorable evening of song!
mention to a top house band, which consisted of Calum McIntyre(drums,
percussion), Steven Polwart (guitar), Kevin McGuire (double bass), Fraser
Fifield (kaval, low whistle, saxophone).
Joni was one
of the first to write lyrics to her songs in such an intimate way. She is a
great lyricist and painter of profound images. The direct simplicity of her words
are highly memorable with lines such as - ' You impress me most when you don't even
try.' As she sings on Blue Motel Room: "I’ve got road maps from two dozen
states, I’ve got coast to coast just to contemplate …"
us to send a Big Wave of thanks over the ocean to Joni - one of the greatest singer
songwriters of all time. I agree wholeheartedly with him - still as brilliant
40 years later!
Robertson has also adapted other books into
the Scots language. He spoke in an
interview for the Herald of the challenges of working on this creative project
to bring his words into the musical contact of the songs - You can’t simply swap a song from one
language into another and expect it to work. It’s no accident that Scots is the
"natural" language of much traditional Scottish music, and American
the "natural" language of blues and rock ’n’ roll. This does not
mean, however, that synthesis is impossible or undesirable. On the contrary,
building bridges between musical and wider cultural worlds is exactly what
Celtic Connections does. '
the lang, hot simmer, Joni,
we thocht it wid niver end;
I had ma haill life oot afore me,
nae mair lessons tae attend.
Caurs tailed back in the Safari Park,
puggies laughin in the trees:
the warld wis turnin inside oot,
shrinkin by invisible degrees.
I gaed through twenty-nine states and then
some mair –
forests, mountains, fields and feelins.
I walked ma shoon tae shreds on stoury roads,
sometimes hurtin, sometimes healin.
Awthin turns in time tae legend,
and in ilka legend somethin’s true;
that fit-sair, luve-seik pilgrimer
aye walks aside me noo.