We love the iconic painting of Joni Mitchell created by our friend Denyse Klette and we know you do too!
Did you know you can have a copy for yourself? We’ve got prints for sale! Stop by our info table in the lobby for an order form, or you can order online.
While you’re perusing the Dervilia art + design website you can also get your copy of the works from the composer series. All created by Denyse Klette, these beautiful works of art feature some of our favourite composers and as a bonus, a portion of the sale proceeds support your orchestra!
For Saskatchewan’s Centennial in 2005, Joni Mitchell created an album called Songs of a Praire Girl. To quote Mitchell:
“I rounded up from my whole repertoire the songs that made references to Saskatchewan.”
The album includes 13 tracks that were influenced by her time in Maidstone, North Battleford, and her hometown of Saskatoon. Having moved to Saskatoon at age 11, Mitchell spent many of her formative years here. It was at Queen Elizabeth School that her teacher, Arthur Kratzmann, told her “If you can paint with a brush, you can paint with words.” He was a great influence on Mitchell, and in the credits for her first album, Joni wrote: “This album is dedicated to Mr. Kratzman, who taught me to love words.”
Mitchell is an incredible painter of words, and we’ve selected some of our favourite prairie references in her lyrics from Songs of a Prarie Girl.
Urge for Going
Mitchell introduced Urge for Going as “a song that was inspired by the part of the country that I come from, a place called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”
“In Saskatoon or in Saskatchewan – or on the prairies for that matter, that includes the American prairies – the winters and the summers are very radical, with the temperature varying as much as 150 degrees in a season. So when the winter sets in, it really sets in, and drops down to about 50 below and all the people sit around and complain a lot, but they never really do anything about it.”
He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
And summertime was falling down and winter was closing in
Now the warriors of winter give a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying all that lives is gettin’ out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow…
They’ve got the urge for going
And they’ve got the wings to go
All Saskatchewan residents know the “urge for going” when the seasons change from fall to winter.
The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)
Several of the songs chosen for this album include how Mitchell felt about prairie winters.
She plants her garden in the spring
He does the winter shovelling
But summer’s just a sneeze
In a long long bad winter cold
She says “I’m leavin’ here” but she don’t go
Mitchell references Saskatoon’s iconic Broadway Bridge in her heartbreaking song Cherokee Louise.
Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We’re crawling on our knees
We’ve got flashlights and batteries
We’ve got cold cuts from the fridge
Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac
Not only does this song describe memories of rolling around in her friend’s dad’s care, but Mitchell references some of her difficulties in school which caused her to drop out. She did go back and finish high school at Aden Bowman.
Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac
Rollin’ past the rink
Past the record shack
Pink fins in the falling rain
To the blue lights past the water mains
Let the Wind Carry Me
Mitchell wrote about the different relationships she had with each of her parents, and her urge to settle and start a family of her own. But as she writes, that urge doesn’t last long.
But it passes like the summer
I’m a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me
Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
Mitchell considers Saskatoon to be her home time and often describes herself as coming from an “open prairie”.
I come from open prairie
Given some wisdom and a lot of jive
Last night the ghosts of my old ideals
Reran on channel five
Raised on Robbery
Mitchell opens this tune with a line about the Empire which used to sit on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 20th Street.
He was sitting in the lounge of the Empire Hotel
The title comes from the lyrics where Mitchell describes dreaming about “paprika plains” and “a turquoise river snaking”. Mitchell goes on to describe the people from the land of the living skies during a thunderstorm.
Back in my hometown
They would have cleared the floor
Just to watch the rain come down
They’re such sky oriented people
Geared to changing weather
Song for Sharon
Mitchell’s Song for Sharon reads like a letter to an old friend. It’s dedicated to Joni’s best friend when she was growing up in Maidstone, Saskatchewan, in the 1950s, and it references the fact that Sharon had been planning a career as a professional singer, while Joni hoped to be a farm wife — but in adulthood, each realized the other’s ambition.
When we were kids in Maidstone, Sharon
I went to every wedding in that little town
To see the tears and the kisses
And the pretty lady in the white lace wedding gown
And walking home on the railroad tracks
Or swinging on the playground swing
Love stimulated my illusions
More than anything
In the early 70s, Mitchell was living in Los Angeles. During that time she wrote and released her album Blue.
Coming from Saskatchewan December in California is a very different experience. In River, she writes about how Christmas holiday preparations make her long for a river to skate away on.
Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Chinese Café/Unchained Melody
In another lyrical letter to a childhood friend, Mitchell reminisces over how childhood hangouts. She writes of how time has passed – Saskatoon is changing thanks to “uranium money”, Carol’s kids are grown, they look like their mothers, and she wishes she could have been there for her own daughter’s growing up.
Down at the Chinese Cafe
We’d be dreaming on our dimes
We’d be playing “You give your love, so sweetly”
One more time
Harlem in Havana
Mitchell writes about a late-night show at the Saskatoon Exhibition in Harlem in Havana that Auntie Ruthie would not have approved of.
At the far end of the midway
by the double ferris wheel
There’s a band that plays so snakey
You can’t help how you feel
Come In from the Cold
Mitchell was living in Saskatoon and turned 14 in 1957. Her lyrics evoke memories of school dances, and the awkward years of being a young teen just discovering the spark of attraction found in young love.
Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
And so with just a touch of our fingers
oh we could make our circuitry explode
All we ever wanted
Was just to come in from the cold
While there are so many incredible Mitchell tunes to choose from, our concert A Case of You includes Sarah Slean singing River. You can watch the whole concert by subscribing on ConcertStream.tv
Joni Mitchell’s songs, frequently confessional, sometimes obscure, always literate and musically adventurous, form one of the most striking bodies of work in the popular music of the last three decades.
She was born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943, in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada. Her mother taught school and her father was a grocer. While she was still very young, the family moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. At the age of seven years old, she convinced her parents to let her take piano lessons, but after a year and a half, the lessons came to an end. At the time, her most important creative outlet was art, not music. When she was nine years old, her family moved again, this time to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. These were the years of terrible polio epidemics, and Joan was one of that disease’s victims. She was one of the lucky ones, though–after a stay in the hospital, she succeeded in getting back the use of her legs.
When she was twelve, she was strongly influenced by an English teacher, Mr. Kratzman, who encouraged her to develop her writing talent. And then, in her teens, she became interested in folk music. She learned to play the ukulele and began performing at parties. After graduating from high school, she became a student at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, hoping to become a painter. While there, however, she began singing in a local folk music club, and in 1964, at the end of her first year of college, she decided to leave school and move to Toronto in order to pursue a career as a folksinger. Around this time, in addition to performing the popular folksongs of the day, she also began writing songs of her own.
In February of 1965, she gave birth to a daughter by a college ex-boyfriend. A few weeks after the birth, she married a Toronto folksinger, Chuck Mitchell. Shortly afterward, it became necessary for her to give her daughter up for adoption. Then, in the summer of 1965, the Mitchells moved to Detroit, where they performed as Joan and Chuck Mitchell. After a year and a half, the marriage broke up, and in. 1967, now known as Joni Mitchell, she moved to New York City. Initially, she considered returning to her artistic roots to pursue a career in design and clothing. However, she found herself rapidly gaining success as a folk singer. She became friendly with Elliot Roberts, who became her manager. With his help, she began to build a following not just in New York but all over the East Coast both as a singer and, even more, as a songwriter. Soon a number of well-known folksingers began recording her songs, including Tom Rush, Buffy Saint-Marie, and Dave Von Ronk.
Performing in Coconut Grove, Florida, Mitchell met David Crosby and towards the end of 1967, she left New York to move in with Crosby in California. Crosby persuaded Reprise Records to record her, and he produced her first album, entitled Joni Mitchell, which was released in March of 1968.
In December of 1968, Judy Collins scored a huge international bit single with a song written by Mitchell, “Both Sides Now.” As a result of this, when Joni Mitchell’s second album Clouds, which included her own version of “Both Sides Now”, was released in April 1969, it received a lot of attention. Another popular track from this album was “Chelsea Morning” (the song is said to have inspired the naming of President Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea). The album won her a Grammy as Best Folk Performance.
David Crosby had introduced Mitchell to Graham Nash, and soon after the introduction, Mitchell moved in with Nash in Los Angeles. She began touring as an opening act for Crosby, Stills, & Nash, who soon had a major hit with Mitchell’s composition “Woodstock”.
In 1970, she came out with her third album Ladies of the Canyon. This was a breakthrough album for her, with such songs as “For Free”, “Big Yellow Taxi”, “The Circle Game”, and her own version of “Woodstock”. It was her first gold album. Then in 1971, came Blue, an intensely introspective album that became a great success both with the critics and with the public. This album marked the beginning of a shift to a more rock-based style in Mitchell’s music. Around this time, she moved to British Columbia, staying with her friend David Geffen whenever she was in Los Angeles. In October 1972, For the Roses was released, once again with great critical and popular success. One of the songs from this album, “You Turn Me On., I’m A Radio” became a hit single. This was followed in 1974 by Court and Spark, in which her style evolved into a more popular but still sophisticated direction. “Help Me” from this album became a top ten single. Shortly afterward, she moved back to LA (while still keeping her British Columbia home), sharing a house with John Guerin, her drummer on Court and Spark.
By this time, Joni Mitchell was well-established as one of the most original voices in popular music. She broke up with John Guerin in 1976 and stayed for a while a Neil Young’s house. She scored another major popular and critical success with that year’s album Hejira.
In 1977, the legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus, who was already seriously ill with the disease that would kill him less than two years later, got in touch with Joni Mitchell and initiated the collaboration that led to her 1979 album Mingus, and also to an increased presence of jazz in her music.
In 1982, Joni Mitchell married bass player Larry Klein. Beginning with 1982’s Wild Things Must Run, Klein was an important presence in Mitchell’s work, both as a player and as a co-producer. Although they separated amicably in 1993, they continued to work closely together, and Klein assisted her in the production of 1995’s album Turbulent Indigo, which won Mitchell a Grammy for Best Pop Album.
The true mark of a great songwriter, Mitchell’s words and music are so versatile and lyrical that her compositions have been recorded by artists from every genre, including Bob Dylan, Percy Faith, Amy Grant, Chet Atkins, Frank Sinatra, Dion, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Tori Aos, The Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor, Michael Feinstein, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, and Bing Crosby. Over the years, she has shown great skill as a recording artist in choosing the musicians she would work with on each project. These have included, at different times, Stephen Stills, James Taylor, guitarist Larry Carlton, fusion bassist Jaco Pastorius, and fusion saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
Joni Mitchell has received numerous Grammy awards and nominations. She was the recipient of Billboard’s prestigious Century Award for “distinguished creative achievement” in 1995 and in 1997 she was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Bassment is one of Canada’s premier jazz clubs and provides musicians of all skill levels a venue to showcase their talents in front of a live audience while accessing a variety of professional, concert-grade instruments. The club offers an intimate, personal concert space with a world-class stage for local, national, and international artists.
Here’s a sample of what’s happening next at The Bassment
Creedence Clearwater Revival Revisited featuring Ross Neilsen
Friday, February 2
ROCKIN’ ROOTS SERIES • DOORS @ 7:30PM • SHOW@ 8:30PM
With over two decades of experience in the music business, Ross Neilsen has played on stages from Montreal to Mexico, all the while acquiring a handsome list of industry accolades. Most comfortable settled in behind a mic performing his own compositions, as well as tunes by some of his favourite songwriters, Ross’ million miles of travel and thousands of performances give him the confidence to feel right at home whenever and wherever he plugs in.
Ross revisits the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival during a night that celebrates the music of one of the greatest bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s. With 14 consecutive Top 10 ten singles, five Top 10 albums, and a performance at the original Woodstock, CCR’s music has stood the test of time and remains as relevant as ever. Ross is joined by Fabian Minnema (guitar), Chris Mason (bass), and Lucas Goetz (drums).
Possessing a soulful blues rasp and a bag full of great blues tunes, home-town legend B.C. Read has been preaching the gospel of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B King, and Muddy Waters to audiences all over Western Canada for 40 years. Returning to play his annual mid-winter gig at The Bassment, B.C. has lined up his favourite musicians to perform a night of blues classics and originals.
The reigning champions of Canadian bluegrass, the Slocan Ramblers are back showcasing their unique blend of bluegrass, old-time, and folk. The band’s set list is marked by thoughtful songwriting, lightning fast-instrumentals, and sawdust-thick vocals.
This show will feature the Ramblers at the top of their game playing selections from their three previous releases and their latest album, Up the Hill and Through the Fog. Say hello to your new favourite band!
Sponsored by Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Society
WORLD MUSIC SERIES • DOORS @ 7:30PM • SHOW@ 8:30PM
Oral Fuentes’ musical journey began in his home country of Belize, where he played for many local and national events in the popular Belizean group, Caribbean Jam. Oral and his 9-piece Saskatoon band play an infectious set list of original tunes fusing Reggae and Afro/Latin. Joining Oral are Lucianus Best (keyboards), Dave Nelson (trumpet), Mike Kereiff (trumpet), Claire Anderson (trumpet), Joseph Ashong (percussion), Zender Millar (bass), and Rocky Delis (drums).
Embark on a musical journey that looks back on the past 60 years of Saskatoon Summer Players, as well as into where we hope to go next. This extraordinary event promises a show filled with nostalgia, talent, and the magic of musical theatre. Directed by Matt Olson, our cast features a stellar lineup of performers, both seasoned veterans and rising stars, who bring along their talents and passion for performance as we relive iconic moments, beloved characters, and show-stopping numbers that have left an indelible mark on Saskatoon Summer Players’ illustrious history. Get ready to laugh, cry, and cheer for 60 years of spectacular performances!
Presented by Saskatoon Summer Players and The Saskatoon Jazz Society