WOW Tales: Joni Mitchell tribute (Rainee Blake)

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Joni Mitchell: Take Me as I Am (performed by Rainee Blake)


There is a difference between a cover band and a tribute act. Covers are simply playing other people’s songs, while tribute acts go all out to not only perform the songs of others but fully embody the act. Perhaps it’s a deceased icon, perhaps a theme or music of a certain era or specific artist; and conducted usually both musically and aesthetically to emulate an artist that audiences otherwise can’t see.

We have had a number of tribute acts come through the WOW Hall, but few have managed to pinpoint the finest of details like tonight. Rainee Blake, an Australian actress and singer-songwriter, performed over an hour of iconic Joni Mitchell songs and sharing stories of Joni’s life as Joni — even developing a near-flawless Canadian Saskatchewan accent and the vocal mannerisms distinctive to Joni Mitchell’s speech style. Rainee clearly has done her homework, because if I closed my eyes and just listened to songs and stories it sure seemed like I was hearing archival interviews or live performances of Joni Mitchell.

From being announced as Joni Mitchell taking the stage by our intrepid sound guy Davis to telling stories of Joni’s life from the first-person perspective, from the moment was on stage she put her acting skills on full display embodying a 1970s era Joni, pinpointing the exact era she was emulating by mentioning that she had just connected with a new up-and-coming bass player named Jaco, and then played a “new song” that she had just recorded with Jaco off the Herjira album. This would place the tribute right square in 1976, with the addition of Jaco Pistorious to her band — a brash youngster at the time who despite dying at age 35 is widely considered one of the most accomplished and influential bass players of all-time.

Blazing through many of Joni’s most famous songs matched with stories told in Joni’s voice, it was one of the most on-point tribute acts that I can recall seeing. After a spirited finale of “Big Yellow Taxi” — which had most oft he audience joyfully singing along — Rainee stepped back out as herself rather than Joni and for the first time spoke in her natural Australian accent, which I think genuinely shocked a few people in the crowd. She performed one of her own songs to close out the night, with the show being a rare early exit for those of us on staff with the sun still up by the time the crowd shuffled out.

In addition to her own original music and touring in honor of Joni Mitchell, you may recognize Rainee as one of the key cast of the TV show Nashville.

Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate the music of Joni Mitchell with Rainee Blake and the WOW Hall staff, and we’ll see YOU at the next show!



WOW Hall Marketing Director


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