The Crazy Cries of Love at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2019)

“Joni Mitchell’s music first entered my life through LPs that my two older sisters brought into our home in New Jersey. It was my first exposure to that kind of poetry, lyricism, bizarre and lush guitar sounds, and her singular voice displaying her interior world full of longing, wanderlust, and observation. My background is dance and visual art, but most of my work is in performance, which felt uncorrupted, and without limitations. I was a regular at the Pyramid Club in the early 1980’s, and when my pals first organized the Wigstock Festival in Tompkins Square Park, I knew right away that I had to sing Joni’s song ‘Woodstock’ as ‘Wigstock’. I had only recently begun to sing in public, and had a natural high extension to my vocal range, and already had it in that back of my mind that I would eventually sing Joni’s work in the original key. So it was initially about wanting to sing her music, not to become some version of her. But since this was going to be Wigstock, I thought I should probably wear a wig. I didn’t think I resembled her in any way, but my boyish lanky body could fit the visual of the willowy flaxen haired ingénue look she sported early in her career. So the chameleon in me approached it like a character – somewhat recognizable silhouette appearing as an apparition, and singing in the stratosphere. This initial appearance let to a series of more complex and elaborate theatrical concerts, including a keyboard player dressed like Joni’s friend the painter Georgia O’Keeffe (Brian Butterick, Kenny Mellman, and our present music director and pianist Zecca Esquibel), and a bass player garbed like her idol the painter Vincent Van Gogh. The first time we performed the show for Joni (and her entourage) was at the now-defunct club called Fez in 1997. Just getting through those two hours was an accomplishment, as the place was packed and the buzz in the air was insane. Right before going on I was sitting alone in the dressing room and started to freak out. Real terror. And in that same moment I had to tell myself to not change a single thing. Making that choice gave me courage. She was sitting in a banquette in the dark, and it felt like a tribunal, or like I was sculpting for Michelangelo. It was a wild night, and backstage she walked up to me and gave me a really long hug. While sitting in the packed dressing room she gave me a gift – dulcimer. This theatrical version was retired during a show in Marfa, Texas in 2009. 10 years later, this ‘wig free’ concert version of Joni’s words and music retains the directorial eye of Kevin Malony and new costume designs by David Wollard, under the stewardship of Craig Hensala. We are grateful to Limor Tomer and the staff of Met Live Art for this opportunity to share these interpretation of Joni Mitchells works with the audience at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” John Kelly February 3, 2019


at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 13, 2019 at 7pm 


Cactus Tree 

A Case Of You

A Strange Boy 

Both Sides Now 

My Old Man 

Chelsea Morning 

Court and Spark 

Help Me (spoken as poetry over sound bed)


Shadows And Light 

Harry’s House 

Answer Me, My Love (Carl Sigman & Fred Rauch)

Down To You

The Crazy Cries of Love 


Night Ride Home 

  • Photo by David Roman