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  • Writer's pictureHeather Kropf

In the Time of Joni

I imagine when Shakespeare was alive, someone was sure to think, "I live in the time of Shakespeare." Well, we are living in the time of Joni. This is what I thought to myself when I heard the tribute concert to her at the Luminato Festival in Toronto back in 2013. She sat on the couch to one side of the stage for the whole concert and at the end recited a song that turned into singing after leading us to believe she has retired. The crowd erupted, and I was extra over the moon because she had selected a song I had recently learned and what she did with phrasing is just out of this world. She always seems so present to the song. What a thrill to live in the time of Joni.

You can see my bootleg video of the Luminato concert at my defunct blog, Is it Good?

Chances are if you've lived long enough you have a memory that pairs with a Joni song. For me, I was 16 when I first heard her in the background of a phone call. I found out the name of the singer and immediately drove my light blue Buick LeSabre to the record store at the Concord Mall. I picked out an album with cover art that grabbed me (this is also how I pick wine, by the way). It was Court and Spark.

I popped the cassette into the car, and as I drove out of the parking lot and over the railroad tracks towards home, the first piano sounds rang out and my life literally changed. A world of confessional songwriting with a way of playing piano that felt like home from the first measures and through every passing decade was laid out before me. I am one of hundreds of songwriters who have traveled the road she created and I can honestly say I probably wouldn't be here without it. What I had yet to learn is that I would also be traveling similar chronic health roads as well. So, in every way Joni has been a guide and I'm grateful for all of it.

The wheels, they go round and round.....

It's a decade later now and Joni turns 80, still singing! Pittsburgh is throwing a party for her in concert on Saturday, November 4 down at the newly renovated Pittsburgh Winery (the Cellar). I am honored to be invited to sing and although I initially turned it down because my voice isn't conditioned fully, I realized if there was any moment when I should try it was now and it was for this artist and it was in this town. Life gives us chances. At some point you have to fall into the void a little and keep declaring life wins. So after some conversation with the show's producer, I agreed to open the concert with a couple of songs and that feels like plenty of ambition.

Chances and changes don't quit. If you are Joni fan living in Pittsburgh, I look forward to seeing you there! Let's celebrate something good: long lives and good songs and being together.

The line-up includes: Bob Banerjee, Lauren DeMichiei, Leah Hohman Esser (Brewer’s Row), Heather Kropf, rising star Ashley Marina of America’s Got Talent - 2020, Megan Paullet (Damaged Pies), Mirabelle Skipworth, Clark Slater (Push, Bill Deasy Band), and Trinity Wiseman, who is flying in from Nashville for this show.

Plenty of seating will be available in the beautiful, newly expanded Pittsburgh Winery. In Joni’s honor, ladies night drink specials will be featured.


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