Photo | Courtesy of joanbaez.com
Folk icon Joan Baez brings her farewell tour to the Saenger this Saturday.
Band: Joan Baez
Date: Saturday, April 13, with doors at 7 p.m.
Venue: Saenger Theatre, 6 S. Joachim St. (Mobile), mobilesaenger.com
Tickets: $35-$65, available through Ticketmaster
After moving crowds at the Newport Folk Festival nearly six decades ago, folk icon Joan Baez’s voice continued to reflect a socially and politically charged generation well beyond the 1960s. This year, she has decided to say “fare thee well” from touring.
After touring extensively in 2018, Baez noted there were many locales she’d not yet visited. The 2019 extension of her “Fare Thee Well Tour” added Southern cities and other locations she felt had sold out too quickly to give fans a chance to acknowledge the end of her long touring career.
When she finishes the U.S. leg, Baez will depart for a European festival tour in July, and then put up her suitcase. So far, Baez says, the experience has been positive.
“It’s just been wonderful,” she said. “People should do farewell tours all the time. It’s true that this will be the last time. So, the halls are filled, and the excitement is high. For us as a band, it’s been absolutely wonderful.”
For the “Fare Thee Well Tour,” Baez is filling her show with songs from her latest album, “Whistle Down the Wind.” Produced by Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint), this album features covers of songs by Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Mary Chapin Carpenter and others.
When it came to selecting songs for “Whistle Down the Wind,” Baez said she took the same route as with previous albums featuring other songwriters’ works. Her manager and assistants gathered an abundance of songs they felt would work for her. After a song was chosen, her manager listened to the song extensively. Once a song made it past her manager, Baez was the next stop.
“From there, I choose which ones will make sense,” Baez said. “Some of them are no-brainers, like ‘The President Sang Amazing Grace.’ With others, I have to try them with musicians and put them into this range that I have, which is pretty limited. So that takes work, to prepare the voice. The actual recording process is very quick. I went to L.A. three times, and each time I stayed for three days. I’ve always made albums like that, but it took a year to find the songs.”
Even though she’ll be leaving the road, Baez already has solid plans for the future. First, she plans to concentrate on her art. She has already had one exhibit of her “Mischief Makers” collection — paintings featuring portraits of individuals who have promoted social change through nonviolence. Second, Baez says she plans to focus on her physical future.
“As I face getting older, and eventually deaf, I need to do some work on that,” said Baez. “I really do, because it’s gonna catch you sideways if you don’t do the work. I’d like for it not to be a ghastly affair. I’d like to be as honest as possible, but at the very end, pass the Ativan. I’m not interested in trying to tough it through. Just give me another drop of Ativan or morphine. You can all stand around and do what you have to do, but the minute you see my lips move, put another drop of Ativan in there.”
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