Clarion voice of songbird Judy Collins fills L.A. night sky 8

Music · Reviews

Yes, a songbird, thrush, warbler, coloratura, balladeer … she self-describes as a ‘troubadour.’ But who knew that folk-rock legend Judy Collins is also supremely entertaining, a raconteur spieling salty, even ribald stories all while innocently strumming her guitar? Tonight in a delicious free concert at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles, Collins lulled her audience like a lady folk singer — and then zinged them with naughty, funny punch lines.

collins - purple
The evening passed like a pipe dream, a journey that wafted on her elegant, still-vital voice. She knitted together her rich playlist with gentle transitions, swapping organically between story, song-snippet, joke, and full song. Regally occupying center stage in glamorous hippie garb — purple, that greatest of all hippie colors — she accompanied herself on guitar backed by her excellent pianist, Russell Walden. Then she replaced him at the keyboard, her slender hands tumbling forth supportive chords, her back archly held (the evening opened with her confiding that as a good little Denver girl, she had studied piano).

And this section of the generous, lengthy concert was so striking. The seated chanteuse (now), having hypnotized her audience (sprawled on picnic blanket and beach chair) with her own compositions interspersed with those by compatriot-composers Joni Mitchell (in a special ‘get well,’ “Chelsea Morning”), Stephen Stills, Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Webb, Joan Baez (and her boyfriend Bob), closed the evening with art songs and Irish dirges. A lilting tour through time, the sound of our lives, a true survivor who, despite that setback in Tucson, has endured with elegance and excellence.

Then in marched “Send in the Clowns.” We wept.


photo credit: collins at levitt, top shot, janet thomas, middle shot, sherry raynes barnett

8 thoughts on “Clarion voice of songbird Judy Collins fills L.A. night sky

  1. debra levine Jul 28,2015 1:04 pm

    Great to hear from you, Phil. Cheers!

  2. Philip McKinley Jul 28,2015 1:03 pm

    Ha, another failure to cross paths that night. My first concert at Levitt Pavilion. A great venue to take transit to from my new home. It was wonderful to lie on the ground and hear her voice.

  3. debra levine Jul 21,2015 5:08 pm

    Great to hear from you, Craig. Isn’t it fun that we are in such a big city and, in that big city park, we did not see each other?

  4. Craig Watson Jul 21,2015 4:26 pm

    Carolyn and I were there as well and it was a stunning and magical night. Thanks to Liz Hirsch and the amazing Levitt team…you continue to amaze. And Debra…you capture so many of our same feelings and reactions. Thank YOU….

  5. debra levine Jul 20,2015 12:01 pm

    Thank you, Julie. Yes, special, memorable, and inspiring.

  6. julie Jul 20,2015 10:55 am


    So happy to have someone (YOU) express in words what I cannot not. It was truly a divine evening and one which will stay with me forever.. Thanks for expressing my feelings so beautifully!

  7. debra levine Jul 18,2015 5:02 pm

    Beautiful to see you as well, Juan. We have have Levitt Pavilions to thank for this treat.

  8. Juan Bastos Jul 18,2015 6:19 am

    Thank you Debra. I was lucky to be there too. It was a magical moment. The audience at Mac Arthur Park under the stars, was a special treat, with its shiniest one singing last night. We are so glad that the Levitt Pavillion brought Judy Collins for this occasion!

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