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Joan Baez in Ann Arbor, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018

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After more than 60 years of performing, it's all over now -- sort of -- for Joan Baez.

The folk music icon and 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is in the midst of her final North American tour, playing her wealth of signature songs -- "Diamonds and Rust," "We Shall Overcome," The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Joe Hill" and many of good friend and contemporary Bob Dylan's classics -- on a victory lap of sorts. She also released an album, "Whistle Down the Wind," in March, and in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential election she's been a frequent visitor to rallies and protests, not unlike her work with the 60s anti-war and Civil Rights movements.

Baez will still be heard from; The current political climate has clearly energized her, and she's embraced painting while not ruling out making more music in the future. For now, though, she's saying one kind of goodbye, and rest assured her fans will find some sorry in that sweet parting...

Baez, 77, says by phone that she feels ambivalent about ending her touring career, "but at the moment, at least, it still seems right. Charles Aznavour, the French singer, wants to die at 100 on stage -- and I really don't. But I do get why some people do a farewell tour and then they come back, because everybody comes to see the last concert. There's double the enthusiasm and double the crowd, and in a way it's a little deceptive."

Baez predicts she' miss "everything" about touring, but primarily "my tour family. There's been big changes over the years, but in my latest group the newest (member) came seven years ago, so we really know each other by heart and we dance on the bus as it's ripping down the highway at three in the morning. I'll miss that."

Baez predicts that a "despicable" political climate will make sure that she surfaces in appropriate settings and events that can benefit from having her there. "I know I'm a spokesperson, and I don't intend to stop that. It's interesting; Last year I didn't do any concerts at all and I was more on the streets with rallies than I've been in a long time. They want to move so fast and do so many ugly things that we just wear out, and we can't let that happen."

Music will be replaced by painting for Baez. She had her first exhibition, "Mischief Makers," last year in Mill Valley, Calif., and recently entered a portrait of Stoneman-Douglas High School student and activist Emma Gonzalez in a National Portrait Gallery contest. "that's turned into what I do. I've been through a lot of phases doing a lot of things over the years, but nothing's settled with me like this. I love the painting. When I get home I think I better rest up form jet lag, but I wind up going down to the studio and working. I don't think it's gonna stop."

As for making more music, Baez says that she's "not thinking about it. If some brilliant idea came along -- probably somebody else's idea and I thought, 'Oh wow, I can't let this one go. I could gear up for that...' -- then I would consider it. But it would have to be something somebody put in front of me and said, 'OK, why don't you try this?' But then after you're done, you're supposed to tour it, so..."

Joan Baez performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are sold out. Call 734-668-8397 or visit michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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