Joan Baez returns with new album and spring tour

Joan Baez

Legendary singer, songwriter, activist and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Baez, will release a new album Whistle Down The Wind (Proper Records) on March 2 2018. Produced by three-time Grammy® Award winner Joe Henry and recorded over ten days of sessions in Los Angeles, Whistle Down The Wind gathers material by some of Baez’s favourite composers.

Whistle Down The Wind is Joan’s first new studio album in a decade, since 2008’s critically acclaimed, Grammy®-nominated Day After Tomorrow, which was produced by Steve Earle.  Its release ignited an extraordinary decade of achievement by Joan, including: the PBS American Masters series premiere of her life story, Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound (2009), which underscored the 50th anniver­sa­ry of Joan’s debut at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival.  Joan’s seminal debut album of 1960 was honoured by the National Academy of Record­ing Arts & Sciences in 2011, which inducted it into the Grammy® Hall Of Fame; and subsequently by the Library of Congress in 2015, which selected it to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. That same year, Amnesty International bestowed its highest honour on Joan, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, in recognition of her exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights and she was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2017.

Record-breaking years of touring in the recent past included Joan’s first tours in three decades in both Australia (2013) and South America (2014).  Joan’s 75th birthday was celebrated at New York’s Beacon Theater in January 2016, where she was joined by Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris and a host of others.

Joan’s first solo exhibition of paintings was presented in Mill Valley, CA in 2018.  The collec­tion celebrated “Mischief Makers” – portraits of risk-taking visionaries who have brought about social change through non-violent action.  The entire exhibit was subsequently purchased by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and donated to Sonoma State University, where it will eventually be displayed at an envisioned new social justice learning centre on campus.

Joan Baez remains a musical force of nature of incalculable influence.  She marched on the front line of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, shined a spotlight on the Free Speech Movement, took to the fields with Cesar Chavez, organized resistance to the Vietnam War, inspired Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic, saluted the Dixie Chicks for their courage to protest the Iraq war, and stood with old friend Nelson Mandela in London’s Hyde Park as the world celebrated his 90th birthday. Joan’s earliest recordings fed a host of traditional ballads into the rock vernacular, before she unselfconsciously introduced Bob Dylan to the world in 1963.  Thus began a tradition of mutual mentoring that continues on Whistle Down The Wind, and which will reverberate long into the future across Joan’s lifetime of recordings.

In conjunction with the new album, Joan will undertake an extensive 2018 world tour, including UK and ROI dates in March and May. Speaking of the tour, which will begin on March 2 in Stockholm, Baez says “While 2018 will be my last year of formal extended touring, I’m looking forward to being on the road with a beautiful new album about which I am truly proud.  I welcome the opportunity to share this new music as well as longtime favourites with my audiences around the world.”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: http://www.joanbaez.com/

‘Diamonds And Rust’ – live:

Joan last performed in the UK in 2014 when she sold out 4 nights at London’s Royal Festival Hall, following a sold out 21 date tour in 2012. The 2018 UK and ROI dates are as follows:

March 13 York Barbican [buy tickets]
March 14 Birmingham Symphony Hall [buy tickets]
March 16 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall [buy tickets]
March 17 Edinburgh Usher Hall [buy tickets]
March 19 Belfast Waterfront Hall [buy tickets]
March 21 Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre [buy tickets]
March 22 Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre [buy tickets]
May 23 Bristol Colston Hall [buy tickets]
May 24 Manchester Bridgewater Hall [buy tickets]
May 26 Gateshead The Sage [buy tickets]
May 28 London Royal Albert Hall [buy tickets]
May 29 London Royal Albert Hall [buy tickets]

JOAN BAEZ – The Complete Gold Castle Masters (Proper PROPCD141)

Joan BaezWithout a label and not having not made a studio album since 1979’s Honest Lullaby, in 1987 Joan Baez got back into the ring, signing with Danny Goldberg’s new Gold Castle with whom, over the next two years, she would release three albums (along with the Brothers In Arms compilation) before inking with Virgin.

These are now gathered together in this 3CD set, along with various bonus cuts, the first up being her ‘comeback’, ‘Recently’, the title track concerning the break up of her marriage to David Harris, the track ‘James and the Gang’ being about the kid who, with Baez away on frequent tours, led their then teenage son Gabe to drop out of school and get mixed up with drink and drugs. They’re the only two Baez originals here, the other tracks including her brooding interpretations of Mark Knopfler’s ‘Brothers In Arms’ and, backed by just a stormclouds drone, U2’s ‘MLK’, Jimmy Webb’s ‘The Moon Is Harsh Mistress’, Peter Gabriel’s ‘Biko’, a gospel infused version of Moman and Penn classic ‘Do Right Woman, Do Right Man’ and, sung in the original Zulu, Johnny Clegg’s ‘Asimbonanga’, for which she earned a Grammy nomination. The album was rounded out with a live recording of the traditional ‘Let Us Break Bread Together/Oh Freedom’, the reissue now adding the previously unreleased ‘Lebanon’ from early Steely Dan member David Palmer, recorded during the same sessions.

Her second studio set, Speaking Of Dreams, followed in 1989 and followed the same mix of material, opening with the politically charged ‘China’, inspired by the Tiananmen Square protests, followed by the reggae rhythms of the equally political ‘Warriors of the Sun’. The piano ballad title track was the only other self-penned number while the traditional quota was filled by an harp backed ‘Carrickfergus’ and, produced by and featuring Paul Simon, his South African inspired ‘Rambler Gambler/Whispering Bells’ interpolation.

A second duet teams her with Jackson Browne for Greg Copeland’s slow waltzing protest number ‘El Salvador’, with the original album completed by David Massengill’s folksy ‘Fairfax County’, a percussive third person rework of ‘Hand To Mouth’, the B-side of George Michael’s solo debut, and, backed by the Gypsy Kings, ‘A Mi Manera’, Paul Anka’s ‘My Way’ sung in Spanish (initially omitted by added to subsequent releases).

The reissue adds the two numbers left off the album (and featured on the 1991 compilation), her cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Goodnight Saigon’ and the full seven minute version of ‘Warriors of the Sun’ which segued into Tracy Chapman’s ‘She’s Got A Ticket’.

The third CD, released in 1988, is the live recording Diamonds and Rust in the Bullring (her first official live release in the US) , recorded in Bilbao, Spain, with five of the 12 songs sung in Spanish (‘El Preso Numero Nueve’ revisiting her 1960 debut while ‘Ellas Danzan Solas is Sting’s ‘They Dance Alone’) and one (‘Txoria Txori’) in Basque. The English language numbers include gospel staples ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and, with Mavis Staples, ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around’ alongside Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘Let It Be’ (a gospel reading surely influenced by Billy Preston’s version) and, of course the definitive version of classic title track itself.

For a variety of reasons, the albums never found their audience at the time, the label declaring bankruptcy in 1992, but three decades after they were recorded, and following Baez’s recent 75th birthday celebrations, they’re due to some serious long overdue attention.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the JOAN BAEZ – The Complete Gold Castle Masters link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist’s website: www.joanbaez.com

‘Diamonds And Rust’ live. (Not the version on this album.)