Judy Collins is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. In the last decade, she recorded two PBS specials, wrote a memoir about the 1960s (2012’s Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music, released an album of duets (2015’s Strangers Again) and even made a return to the legendary Newport Folk Festival.
Collin’s has recorded more than fifty albums over her illustrious career. With several top-ten hits, Grammy nominations, and gold-and platinum-selling albums to her credit, she has also written several books and is a New York Times bestselling author.
Her work ethic is legendary, and she’s not stopping in 2018. Collins’ Big Island fans will be thrilled to hear that she’s playing the Honoka’a’s People’s Theatre on Saturday, January 13.
I caught up with Ms. Collins by phone while she was in New York where it happened to be a bone-chilling 17°.
Big Island Music: I was looking at your tour schedule for Hawaii, and starting on January 11, you’re visiting four islands with a show each night. That’s a busy schedule.
Judy Collins: That’s how we do it! (laughs) I have a few days off in Hawaii before we start playing, and will be able to enjoy the heat.
BIM: It’s actually been a little cool here in the evenings… well, what we call cool, around 65.
Collins: Well, I won’t weep for you that much. (laughs)
BIM: Do you have any special connections to the Islands?
Collins: I’ve been going there since 1966, I think. I was traveling with Mimi Fariña and Arlo (Guthrie), and we all decided that if we went to Japan on tour that we had to come to Hawaii for some fun in the sun. I’ve been lucky enough to get shows in Hawai’i over the years, and it’s wonderful to go back.
BIM: Looking back, 2017 has been a busy year for you. Can we talk about some of the material you released? Let’s start with the music and the album Everybody Knows.
Collins: I collaborated with Stephen Stills on that album, and we did 50 shows this year. We’re working on putting together another 50 shows starting in May, and will be hitting the road again.
BIM: You also did an album of composer Stephen Sondheim songs.
Collins: Yes, I had two Sondheim projects out in 2017. One is a CD and the other is DVD of the PBS show, A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim. The CD is the companion version with vocals and piano accompaniment.
Also, I did an album with Ari Hest (Silver Skies Blue – Wildflower/Cleopatra Records). We sang and wrote songs together on that, and it was nominated for a Grammy. That was a wonderful treat. He’ll be joining me in February at Jazz Alley in Seattle.
After the last show in 2017, my musical director and I counted up all the shows. There were also appearances I did without the band, and I also do several speaking engagements around the country for mental health… about five or ten of those every year.
BIM: Is there anyone else on your musician wish list that you’d like to collaborate with?
Collins: I might want to do something with Shawn Colvin. I like her a lot. She just made an album with Steve Earle (Colvin & Earle – Fantasy Records). I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time. She’s wonderful!
BIM: Your book Cravings: How I Conquered Food was also published in 2017.
Collins: Yes. It’s about the food plan I use, and how wonderful and simple it is. I had a lot of fun writing that. I wrote several chapters about the different diet gurus that appeared throughout the years.
BIM: I was peeking at your 2018 tour schedule, and you’re booked up until the end of April. You go from California to Dublin, Ireland, back to the West Coast, and end up in Annapolis, Maryland.
Collins: (laughs) Yeah, that’s the way it goes. When they book ‘em, you gotta get to them.
BIM: What’s your secret to all of this stamina?
Collins: I have an addiction to frequent flyer miles! (laughs) I just love them to death.
BIM: What can folks expect at your show in Honoka’a?
Collins: I will be doing some of my more famous songs… “Send In The Clowns,” “Both Sides Now,” “Someday Soon,” “Who Knows Where The Times Goes,” and some songs I’ve written recently. There’s also some songs that haven’t been released yet that I’m working on. I think we’ll have a good time.
BIM: Are you bringing along any other musicians or playing solo?
Collins: It’s me and my musical director Russell Walden. He’s brilliant, and does everything with me.
BIM: We’re looking forward to it! Aloha!
If you go
Singer-songwriter and folk music icon Judy Collins will perform:
Date: January 13, 2018 – Saturday
Venue: Honoka’a Peoples Theater
Address: 45-3574 Mamane St., Honokaa 96727
Venue Phone: 808-896-4845
Tickets: $45. Gen. $65. Gold Circle
Doors: 6:00 pm. Show: 7:00 pm.
Ticket Outlets & Information:
Online information, tickets & Gold Circle: www.bluesbearhawaii.com or 808-896-4845
Big Island ticket outlets: Sound Wave Music, Kona Music Exchange – Kailua Kona; Kiernan Music – Old Town Kainaliu; Waimea General Store – Parker Square, Kamuela; Top Stich – Honokaa; CD Wizard, Hilo Ukulele & Guitar, Hilo Music Exchange: Hilo.
For more on Judy Collins, please visit: www.judycollins.com/