Both Sides Now: Songs of Joni Mitchell at Caffe Lena -Recap By: Ed Conway

Written by on November 6, 2023

Saturday night in Saratoga is always a busy place, between the bars having both music and college
football, as well as the students from Skidmore College seemingly everywhere, but in my opinion, the
hottest ticket of the night was at Caffe Lena, where a group of local performers stopped in to celebrate
Joni Mitchell’s 80th birthday with a fully, sold out audience. While each took turns front and center on
the stage, many filled in as backup singers throughout the evening.

First up, Katie McKrell and Chris Powers performed three of Joni’s songs, “Court And Spark,” “River” and
“Big Yellow Taxi.” Between songs, McKrell told stories about the Caffe, her parents and other things
germain to the evening. Next up, Sara Ayers ran through electronic versions of “Nothing Can Be Done,”
“Fiction” and “Songs To Aging Children Come” with Buggy Jive and Rosanne Raneri taking the stage as
backups, with haunting fills on “Fiction.” After a quick change, it was Rosanne’s turn at the center stage,
along with bassist Chris Newhouse to run through “Hejira,” “Help Me” and “A Case Of You” with Sara
and Buggy taking their turn as backups. A short intermission, and up came Buggy Jive for his turn at the
mic for the Mitchell penned “For The Roses” and “The Jungle Line” before taking some liberty with the
loophole, “songs by Joni, or about Joni” and doing a couple of originals about Joni with “What Would
Joni Do” and “Sweet Bird.” The final performer of the evening was Kate McDonnell for “People’s Party,”
“Coyote,” “Amelia” and “Conversation.” The night ended with Sara, Kate and Buggy coming together for
“Both Sides Now” with the entire Lena crowd singing along.

Michael Eck was the Master Of Ceremony keeping the proceeding moving along as the performers
hurriedly changed over telling stories about each performer and what they’ve been up to or will be
doing in the future, all of whom he has known for many years. The whole evening moved along so
quickly, it was shocking to find out it was nearly 11 by the time we got to the car. Unfortunately, due to
illness, Angelina Valente was unable to perform, but the others were able to fill in the time in the second act by adding a 4th song. Happy birthday Joni (November 7, 1943).

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