Judy Collins w/Russell Walden
Honokaa Peoples Theatre
January 13, 2018
Celebrated folk singer Judy Collins returned to the historic Honokaa People’s Theatre for a nearly two-hour performance. It was the third night of her four-island tour, and the sold-out crowd was treated to an evening of memorable originals, covers, and engaging storytelling.
Collins was greeted with a warm Hamakua Coast welcome, surprising many as she made her stage entrance by walking down an aisle at the 525-seat theater.
It was a tense day in Hawaii after a false emergency alert was issued. After her second song, Collins joked about recent political headlines: “If you want my opinion about what happened today, I think it was a diversion so we won’t be thinking about the porn star and what was said at the cabinet meeting.”
Although Collins never mentioned the president by name in concert, there was another reference. While singing “Send in the clowns” she added, “Speaking metaphorically, of course, we all know where the clowns really are.”
In between songs, Collins led the mostly baby-boomer audience on a nostalgic trip with vivid scenes from her colorful career. She was just an eleven year-old when she first took an interest in folk music after hearing Jo Stafford sing “Barbara Allen” on the radio. “I got very excited, and my father got me a guitar,” said Collins, adding dryly, “He rented it because he was an optimist.”
Collins played acoustic 12-string most of the night. and was accompanied on piano by her musical director, Russell Walden, who also provided gentle vocal harmonies. Toward the end of her performance, Collins played solo piano and sang for the rest of her set. Her vocal quality remained exceptional, and wit sharp.
Halfway through a new tune titled “Arizona,” the songstress shared the story behind the song. “It was 1962, and not a good year for me,” Collins revealed. “My marriage was breaking up, and I was gurgling every time I breathed.” While playing Ash Alley, a small club in Tucson, she got ill, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The touching piano-driven ballad was inspired by the Arizona landscape she viewed while spending a month in the hospital.
For her encore performance, Collins delivered a heartfelt cover of The Beatles’ classic “In My Life.”
In Big Island’s Music’s interview with Collins, the singer/songwriter said she’d be busy on tour through the end of April. We wish her continued success, and hope she’ll return to the Big Island soon.
Set List: Chelsea Morning | Both Sides Now | Barbara Allen | Anathea | Born To Breed | Everybody Knows | Where Or When | River Of Gold | When I Go | Suzanne | Someday Soon | Since You Asked | Arizona | Send In The Clowns
Encore: In My Life
To learn more about Judy Collins and her upcoming concerts, visit her official website.