For Jayme Kelly Curtis, the inspiration for “The Joni Show”—a Joni Mitchell tribute concert at Kuumbwa Jazz on March 3—reaches back to Curtis’ girlhood in an artist colony on Cape Cod. The Felton-based singer-songwriter remembers herself as a 15-year-old putting on headphones with one of Mitchell’s double records open on her lap, and reading along with the hand-written lyrics. “Directly connecting the eye and the ears to the brain in an intimate, closed-in experience like that—it was just a magical refuge to be with her,” she says. Mitchell continues to affect Curtis’s life today. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m in a conversation or dealing with some situation that one of her lyrics doesn’t pop into my head,” says Curtis. An accomplished musician in her own right with three albums, including 2008’s Mid Life Chrysalis, Curtis hopes to share that “magical refuge” with the community with the help of 19 local musicians.
Besides a lifelong dedication to music, artists in “The Joni Show” have all been strongly influenced by Mitchell, Curtis says. But it’s their individual interpretations of the songs they’ll cover that Curtis is most enthusiastic about. “I love getting up on stage by myself, but my real joy comes from making music as a group with other people,” she says. Local songwriter Pipa Piñon jumped at the opportunity to perform in the show, where she’ll cover Mitchell’s “Black Crow” and “Hejira.” “Joni has been an inspiration since high school,” says Piñon. “So many other women I know have been inspired by her willingness to be honest. She’s our diva.” As much as the show pays homage to Mitchell, Curtis sees it as a celebration of the region’s most talented musicians. “There are so many extraordinary artists here,” she says. “I’ve barely scratched the surface.”
INFO: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320 Cedar St. #2, Santa Cruz. Sold Out. 427-2227.