Saturday night Dave and I braved the rain and traveled from our home in Ilwaco to Astoria, Oregon’s Liberty Theater to see Judy Collins. I was excited. We hadn’t been inside the Liberty Theater since it was rehabbed, although I’d seen a little piece on the Turner Classic Movies channel about it. Mostly I was excited because I have loved Judy forever. She sings like an angel and her songs have been the sound track of my life in so many ways. Dave’s sister-in-law even sang “Since You Ask” at our wedding twenty-one years ago and her version of “Amazing Grace” gives me goose bumps.
Judy is still beautiful and still sings like an angel, but I was a little disappointed. First of all she fiddled with her ample white hair away too much, fluffing it like a teenage girl, and frankly, she didn’t sing as much as I would have liked. Okay, there was an opening act we hadn’t anticipated. Kenny White turned out to be a joyful find. He’s funny, a cross between a crooner and Randy Newman and can make a grand piano sing. He was on long enough for us to want more (we bought a CD), but not enough to feel it was going to cut into Judy Blue Eyes. Well, Judy managed to do that.
I like it when performers tell stories of their lives and are relevant to the songs they are performing. Arlo Guthrie is a master of telling stories of his father Woody and of his own musical history, explaining the genesis of various songs. As Judy talked and strummed and tuned her guitar I was interested in stories of her childhood. I didn’t know she was born in Seattle. How cool! She’d start to strum a song and I’d get set for a treat, then she’d stop and start telling another story. She’d sing a line, even encouraging the audience to sing along and then, boom, stop to tell another story. She has a book coming out next month which I would be delighted to read and may even go on my Yule wish list, but we spent $90 to hear her sing.
This went on for probably 15-20 minutes. Finally she did a very long piece she’d written for her mother that is on her new album and one other from it. One encore song and it was over. I was left let down. Yes, Judy Collins still is beautiful and sings like an angel…just not enough.