My brother recently interviewed Judy Collins for his local paper in Hastings, Nebraska. Here's the resulting article from the interview and concert:Collins shows usual flare at Kool-Aid Days Singer’s chilling performance just the ticket on a sweltering
After decades of performing live, folk singer Judy Collins showed she still knows how to make an entrance during her two-set Kool-Aid Days concert performance at Brickyard Park Ampitheatre Saturday night.
Adorned in a shocking pink satin jump suit with glittering white beaded top and silver high heels, the star had little trouble capturing the attention of those gathered to hear her angelic strains.
Smoldering but for the few summer breezes that occasionally rolled through the ampitheatre grounds, it was Collins’ soaring soprano voice that brought relief to a crowd intent on riding out the heat wave.
The vast percentage of onlookers stayed for both of Collins’ one-hour sets, which included an eclectic assortment of songs from her own library as well as songs from her favorite artists.
Accompanied by musical director Russ Walden on piano and herself on acoustic guitar, her performance lacked nothing. Engaging in her between-song rap, she set an intimate table for hundreds to feast upon.
It was reminiscent of the kind of event one might readily associate with the folk movement in the 1960s: unpretentious, unchained, and informal.
In a bold move, Collins opened the set with the second most popular song of her career, the Joni Mitchell-penned “Both Sides Now.” Though slightly overpowered by the unusually-brisk piano arrangement, her voice was rich and clear as she played catch-up on the choruses, soaring through the demanding vocal line with pleasing results.
During a warm rendition of the Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” she ceased after one verse to communicate a feedback problem to her sound man before resuming. In the interim, she kept the ebb of enthusiasm flowing with a few rounds of traditional a cappella offerings.
During a hauntingly somber version of “Yesterday,” which appears on her latest release, “Judy Collins Sings Lennon and McCartney”), Collins used words and hand gestures to invite the crowd to join in. Many were all too happy to oblige.
As the concert turned toward world events, she gave a plug to her very own line of Judy Collins Martin signature guitars, which she said were designed specifically to raise money for UNICEF and Amnesty International. After touching on the horror of land mines in the former Yugoslavia, she launched into what may have been the crowd favorite on the evening, “Song for Sarajevo,” which she penned for children in Bosnia and dedicated to children in war-torn Iraq.
"You are tall and strong and I am just a child,” she sang. “Can't we live in peace, stop the flowing blood. Make a blessed world where I can be a child.” The sentiment drew a standing ovation.
Keen on expressing local sentiment, her between-song comments
included references to the state, Adams County, Sandhill Cranes and Hastings.
“I’m delighted to be here in the Kool-Aid Capitol of the
World!” she said. “I’ve been a fan of Kool-Aid all my life,” Later, she commented, “A friend of mine’s grandfather was governor of Adams County,” and “I love Chuck Hagel!”
She ended her first set crooning a somewhat laid back version of
"City of New Orleans” by Steve Goodman, sung over a lively piano-bar arrangement.
Following a brief intermission, she opened her second set behind the piano with the song, “Born to the Breed,” a song from her 1975 album, “Judith.” With a discernible tail echo now acompanying her voice, she fell flat on three or four of the fainter notes, a by-product perhaps of the sweltering heat during her first set.
She recovered nicely on the next tune, belting out a full-throated
“Moon’s A Harsh Mistress” in fine tone.
Her do-overs on “The Blizzard” (The Colorado Song”) seemed
almost calculated as she stammered slightly during a lyrical conversation with a stranger in a bar.
After sharing parts of several songs by her longtime friend, Leonard Cohen, she offered an inspired version of his composition “Suzanne,” another of her signature recordings.
Her encore selection of “Send in the Clowns” while predictable,
provided the perfect finale for a well-received trip down memory
“A lot of old memories came floating back,” said Ruth McDonald
of Grand Island, who took in her first live show by Collins from the sixth row in the bleachers. “I’ve liked her for a long, long time. Her voice is amazing. It’s so clear. Those high notes, she hits them every single time. She’s the best.”
“We loved the show,” said Sam Grimminger of Grand Island, who
attended the concert with his wife, Kay. “We’ve been a fan of Judy Collins for many, many years, since the 1960s. We saw her in concert about 10 years ago in Nebraska. She’s an excellent singer.” Her voice seemed unchanged by time, he said.
"The show was everything I expected it to be,” he said. “I
enjoyed it tremendously. She’s kept her singing voice. As far as I’m concerned she sounds the same as she always has, and I think that speaks well of her.”
“I think that Judy Collins is certainly everything she’s ever
been,” Kay Grimminger said. “I think she’s doing very well. I think
Ron Haden, of Aurora and his wife, Diane, moved from the grassy
seating area into the bleachers between sets to get a better perspective on Collins’ performance.
“I’m really amazed at the quality of her voice,” Ron Haden
said. “It hasn’t changed. Being older people, we know her voice from way back.”
“We just appreciate the opportunity to have quality entertainment like this in Central Nebraska,” Diane Haden said. “We’ve listened to Judy for years and years. Decades. I’m very impressed.”