Husband and wife tribute performers Robin Adler and Dave Blackburn took the stage at the Howard Brubeck Theatre to cover Joni Mitchell songs during the Oct 22 concert hour.
The two covered songs from eight of Mitchell’s albums, totaling 12 songs in a 60-minute window. Adler was accompanied by her husband who stood beside her and played acoustic guitar throughout the set. Attendees were promised an acoustic and intimate performance, and that is just what the two performers delivered.
Opening with a song that Mitchell wrote during the Vietnam War, Adler performed the song almost entirely a cappella until Blackburn began on the acoustic guitar during the song’s final verse. From the first few notes, Adler’s vocal range was apparent. It was beautifully haunting in the sense that she truly conveyed the message of the song, one that speaks of pain and sorrow.
As the set continued, Blackburn became more apparent, accompanying his wife on each of the remaining songs they performed. Blackburn’s instrumental craft truly allowed one song to bleed through to the next.
While Blackburn’s talents were an additional complement to his wife’s impressive range, his abilities had a tendency to drown out Adler’s vocals on their version of Miller’s hit, “The Dawntreader.”
Following a few guitar changes, the cover duo played a song that was originally written and performed by Mitchell but is most commonly known as the hit made famous by Crosby Stills and Nash, “Woodstock.”
Prior to their rendition of “Woodstock,” Adler made note of how as a cover duo, they often attempt to stick to the original arrangements composed by Mitchell. However, with this song, the husband and wife team cleverly added a mid song instrumental, which completely changed the pace of the song and showcased the talents of the two performers.
“I have big shoes to fill” acknowledged Adler before continuing on with Mitchell’s song, “A Case Of You.”
Out of each performance, this particular song could have been released as an acoustic single for the duo and quite possibly fared quite well on folk rock stations. Not to mention, Adler reached the song’s falsetto effortlessly.
It might be hard to expect much from a cover band, but Adler and Blackburn brought everything to the table. The hour performance was dusted with commentary, which complemented both Mitchell’s career milestones and the duo’s own life experiences and helped break up a variety of the material.
For one hour, Adler and Blackburn presented Mitchell’s material so well, it could have been their own. Together, they created music magic and in the best of ways, left the audience wanting more.