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Joni Mitchell in Detroit -- Funks did cha

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Sue W. View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jun 05 2008 at 5:23am

Check out my story in today's News, it's about the two years Joni Mitchell lived in Detroit -- near the Cultural Center and Wayne State, on Ferry Street -- with her then-husband, folksinger Chuck Mitchell.

There are photos the News shot of them in '66 at their cool bohemian pad ...it was a huge apartment in a beautiful old building.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery too:
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dream207 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dream207 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 05 2008 at 6:16am
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Sue, what a great article and I enjoyed the photos, too.
 
What facinating years the '60's were.  I've always considered it my era.  Brings back wonderful memories of the times.  Joni has certainly made her mark in music history.  KUDOS to her and KUDOS to you for such a good story.Clap
 
Thanks for sharing with us.
 
Do you know what Joni is up to today??  Is she recording??
 
dream
http://cdbaby.com/cd/eugenepitt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Soul Sister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 05 2008 at 6:23am
Hi Sue,
Great writing as usual.
 
Interesting. Ya' know Joni had a heavy crush on Jimmy.lol.  A Warner record producer told us a few years back that she wanted to date and sleep with Jimmy, lol, lol!!
 
I couldn't click on the photos, for some reason it just wasn't working.
 
Thanks Sue, for sharing another one of your interesting articles.
 
S.S.
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"Love Is The Answer" ~ Little Jeanie Scott
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Sue W. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sue W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 05 2008 at 8:41am
Joni just had a CD out -- I want to say, last year? It was on the Starbucks label ...
 
She did have a reunion with the daughter she gave up for adoption, although there's been mixed results on that.
 
Detroit in the '60s was certainly happening...and I love the image of two Funk Brothers trudging up five flights of stairs (and complaining about it) to find Joni Mitchell strumming her guitar and having them write out music for "Both Sides Now" and her other songs.
 
Who knew she had a Motown connection...I know one of them had to've been Joe Hunter, although her ex-husband Chuck Mitchell can't remember their exact names. He said he knew some Motown players just through playing the clubs. Joe Hunter did a lot of lead sheets for people on the side, always ...it was his big side business.
 
p.s. Jeanie, I bet Joni did have a crush on Jimmy ...I'd like to ask her!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote s. p. a. t. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 08 2008 at 12:21am
I moved your thread from Detroit to Music General per your request Sue W.
 
Cool
george
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dream207 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 08 2008 at 4:12am
I hope others enjoy this article as much as I did.  I never knew Joni had lived in Detroit and the connection to the Funks is interesting.
 
dream
http://cdbaby.com/cd/eugenepitt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Don1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 8:26am
Hey - A great story Sue!
 
- Don
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Sue W. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sue W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 8:44am
Thanks, Donn!
 
I'm surprised a little at how many folks didn't know about Joni's Detroit sojourn ...but it's all good. I suppose here in town we keep track of that stuff more.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Soul Sister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 9:16am
LOL, Sue,
Please do ask her, lol.
 
 
S.S.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Don1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 11:25am
Originally posted by Sue W. Sue W. wrote:

Thanks, Donn!
 
I'm surprised a little at how many folks didn't know about Joni's Detroit sojourn ...but it's all good. I suppose here in town we keep track of that stuff more.
I have been a fan since you wrote The Ladies of Motown. Are they're any more of your works will be coming out somtime soon or in the near future?
 
- Don
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Soul Sister Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 11:46am
Don,
Sue is working on the "Little Willie John" book. It's going to be a good read, no doubt!
 
S.S.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote douglasm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2008 at 3:02pm
Beautiful article, Sue.  I've misplaced them, but on Flicker, there are pictures of Joni playing at both The Chessmate and The Living End.  A You Tube search (Joni Mitchell Oscar Brand) will net you a beautiful video of Joni doing "Urge For Going" on Brand's CBC show "Let's Sing Out" from 1966.  There's a whole series of videos of Joni from the show that are worth checking out. 
 
As to the Chessmate itself, Morrie (I can't remember his last name) ran an unusual "club".  It started out as a chess club with music as backround until he discovered that the music was paying the bills, not the chess.  During the course of its run, I remember seeing acts as wide ranging as Tom Rush, Richie Havens, James Cotton, The Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, a post Pack-pre GFR Terry Knight, The Stone Ponies, Blues Magoos (no, not the one mentioned on Psychedellic Lollipop, the "Never Goin Back To Georgia" tour) and Spanky And Our Gang.  Maybe Jim Kweskin's band too, but I'm not sure on that one.  After their breakup, I saw Chuck Mitchell there as a solo a couple times.
 
The Detroit folk scene from about 1964 through the early 70's was about as alive and vibrant as any music scene I've observed.  Coffeehouses like the Raven, Living End, Wisdom Tooth, Absolute Zero and The Retort hosted locals like Charlie Ladimer, Ron Coden, Phil Marcus Esser, Josh White, Jr. and others, and gave showcases to up and coming touring artists.  With all the emphisis on the soul, jazz and rock histories of the area, the folk music side has been pretty much ignored, and I hope that someone with a decent backround in the scene will write the definitive history of a long ignored secment of the Detroit area music scene......
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sue W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 11 2008 at 10:52am
Hi Doug, thanks for your kind words.
 
Chuck Mitchell was telling me that he played the Chess Mate until Morrie died, then he switched over to the Raven (which is now Sweet Lorraine's restaurant on Greenfield). Chuck still returns to Detroit once a year, to play a benefit for Focus Hope.
 
I always wondered how the Chess Mate got its name, it's interesting to know it started as a chess club! David Was told me he went to see the Blues Magoos there ...
 
I agree about the Detroit folk scene. People don't realize, there were so many different "scenes" going on in Detroit at the same time. It's fascinating to see how they intersected, slightly, at times. Like, Chuck M. said he "found" the two Motown sidemen via his folk club connections, who knew some R&B guys. And he was able to lure Joni to Detroit with the promise of such a vibrant scene here, that they could get lots of gigs.
 
It'd be great if he could have remembered their names, oh well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sue W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 11 2008 at 10:54am
Hi donn,
Thanks for the kind words ...yeah working on Little Willie John ...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote douglasm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 11 2008 at 12:37pm
Sue.....
.....to quote Tom Rush:  I met Joni at The Chessmate, which was run by a guy named Morrie Widdenbaumn, who was a chess genius but couldn't tie his shoes properly.  He was a very strange fellow......with good musical taste.
 
As to the name, when I was in High School, I briefly dated a girl who performed as backround to the chess players.  This would be '64 or so, just as the club was turning into a true coffee house.  Seems the folk music was drawing U of D students. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote douglasm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 12 2008 at 1:29pm
Sue....
...a quick question.  I have read that Gordon Lightfoot would stay with the Mitchells for periods of time.  Do you know if he was living there in July of 1967, prior to writing "Black Day In July"?
 
doug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M I X E Y Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 12 2008 at 4:14pm
Sue. . .
 
That was a wonderful article about Joni Mitchell.  I fell in love with her after seeing her perform in Philly in the 70s.
 
What she did on guitar blew me away.
 
I also am really touched by how she's affected others.  Dave Van Ronk was madly in love with her.  Whenever he sang and played her songs, you could really feel the love he had for her.  WOW!
 
Mixey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sue W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 18 2008 at 10:26am
Thanks Mixey!
 
And Doug ...sorry but I can only post on Souful Planet on alternate Wednesdays, when the moon is on the wane, in a certain cave off Lake Michigan when the tide is high. So here I am...
 
Yeah Gordo stayed with the Mitchells, according to Chuck. I can ask Chuck if Gordo was living here in July '67, he'd probably remember. Chuck says he had the apartment on Ferry Street until 1968. He'd first moved in, in 1962.
 
Gordon L. returns to Detroit every November for the special service at the Mariner's Church, for the victims of the Edmund Fitzgerald...
 
p.s. Patti and Fred Smith were married at that church...I love it there.
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