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Newport Folk Festival Welcomed the Legendary Joni Mitchell in Surprise Headlining Performance - Her First in Over Two Decades
Joni Mitchell / Brandi Carlile - 2022 Newport Folk Festival (Image: Twitter / Janine Small)

Newport Folk Festival Welcomed the Legendary Joni Mitchell in Surprise Headlining Performance – Her First in Over Two Decades

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NEWPORT, RI (CelebrityAccess) – The legendary Joni Mitchell, who hadn’t taken the stage in a full headlining performance in over two decades, made a surprise appearance Sunday (July 24) at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival.

Brandi Carlile, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the 78-year-old Mitchell takes her rightful place within the annals of music history – even covering Mitchell’s Blue in its entirety – was the reason for her return to the stage. The set was billed as, Brandi Carlile and Friends, and for those in the audience, it was just another loving tribute in celebration of Mitchell and her work.

Carlile introduced the legend and Mitchell appropriately took her place on the throne at center stage, while dripping with glittering beads, a beret on her head, and a smile … with Carlile seated to her left. The set began with “Carey,” as those surrounding her only took a line or two to sing. Carlile and her friends, Wynonna Judd, Taylor Goldsmith, Holly Laessing and Jeff Wolfe (Lucius), Marcus Mumford, Blake Mills, and bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth and Celisse Henderson dubbed the 13-song set “Joni Jam”. They performed classics like “Big Yellow Taxi”, “A Case of You,” and “Both Sides Now”, with Mitchell taking the guitar solo for “Just Like This Train.”

In addition, Mitchell kept the audience enthralled with stories told throughout the set. She told the crowd of her experience driving across the United States in a “bad Mercedes” – which prompted the writing of her song, “Hejira”, and meeting Tim Hardin in a hotel lobby. Carlile told the crowd, “I just realized, Joni’s the least nervous person up here.”

Mitchell has been “semi-retired” from music since suffering health-related issues stemming from a brain aneurysm in 2015. Over the years, she has had a slow return to the public eye. In June 2021, she thanked her fans via a social media video on the 50th anniversary of Blue, she was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in December 2021, made a short appearance at this year’s Grammy Awards, and was honored as the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year, receiving the Best Historical Album Award for Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol 1: The Early Years (1963 – 1967), released in October 2020.

Mitchell’s last full live show was at the Wiltern in LA on November 13, 2002. She last appeared at the folk festival in 1969 on the same bill as Arlo Guthrie and the Everly Brothers.


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The full setlist for “Joni’s Jam”
Come in from the Cold
Help Me
Case of You
Big Yellow Taxi
Just Like This Train
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Love Potion No 9
Both Sides Now
The Circle Game

Another legend graced the Newport stages on Saturday night (July 23), as Paul Simon hit the stage in a surprise appearance with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, sitting in with the band for a four-song set.


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