Reviews 2008

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Sally Barker - The Joni Mitchell Project, with Glenn Hughes.
Dick Woodhouse 25 January 2008
Sally Barker is perhaps best known as a founding member of “The Poozies”, an all-female band in which Sally was the lead singer until 1996 when she left to start a family, and was replaced by Kate Rusby. For the next 10 years, Sally juggled the responsibilities of motherhood and pursued a solo career before re-joining “The Poozies” in 2006. In addition to performing with “The Poozies”, Sally began “The Joni Mitchell Project” in late 2007. This is a performance consisting entirely of Joni Mitchell songs in which Sally is ably assisted on keyboard and dulcimer by Glenn Hughes.

For any musician familiar with Joni Mitchell’s songs, they will know that she uses a multitude of different guitar tunings (probably never the standard EADGBE tuning), is an accomplished player of the Appalachian dulcimer and also has a piano style in which the key changes can be frequent and unusual! This is a daunting challenge for anybody who wants to perform Joni’s songs in a realistic way. Nevertheless, from the moment she played the unmistakable first chord of “Chelsea Morning”, we knew that Sally’s renditions of Joni Mitchell’s songs were going to be good. She has obviously done her research well! Coupled with the fact that Sally’s voice bears a strong similarity with that of Joni Mitchell, you could easily imagine that you were in the presence of the real thing!

Armed with a plethora of differently tuned guitars, Sally was able to switch between different songs easily, whilst educating the audience with interesting nuggets of information about the songs. For instance, did you know that “Free Man in Paris” was written after a chance remark by Joni’s manager (who also managed Crosby Stills and Nash) commenting on his holiday in that city, or that “River” was written as a lament, whilst living in California, for her childhood home in Saskatchewan, Canada?

With the assistance of Glenn Hughes on piano and dulcimer, Sally performed many of Joni’s best known songs (mainly) from the ‘70s, including “For Free”, “Big Yellow Taxi”, “California”, “River”, ”You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio”, “In France They Kiss on Main Street” and “Free Man in Paris”.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening and I hope that Sally’s early return to The Woodman Folk Club is on the cards!