Duo brings songs and spirit of Baez, Mitchell to Caffe Lena

Allison Shapira and Kipyn Martin play songs of their muses, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, in their Jo
Kipyn Martin, left, and Allison Shapira bring their Joan & Joni show to Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Sept. 18.
Kipyn Martin, left, and Allison Shapira bring their Joan & Joni show to Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Sept. 18.

Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell never made it to Caffè Lena.

Allison Shapira and Kipyn Martin will play the renowned coffee house Friday — and they’re sort of bringing the famous folk singers with them.

Their show is “Joan & Joni,” and Allison & Kipyn will sing songs made famous by Baez and Mitchell. Curtain is 8 p.m.

“They are going to hear some of Joan Baez’ and Joni Mitchell’s most well-known songs,” said Shapira, a trained opera singer who lives in Washington, D.C., and calls Baez a major influence. “They will hear a few hidden gems they may not have heard before.

“It’s also important for both Kipyn and myself that this not just be a tribute show,” Shapira added. “We’re not trying to be Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. We are two independent singer-songwriters who want to show their influence on our own musical development and musical careers.

“So we sing their songs in our own way and then we also bring in our own original music to show and demonstrate how Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell have influenced our own musical development.”

People still like Baez, years after she began her career during the late 1950s. Shapira knows why.

“The more of her music I listen to, whether it’s the folk songs that she re-interpreted or her own original music, she talks about themes that are very universal human themes, emotions like love and sadness and longing and these are themes that really haven’t gone away,” she said.

“Even if you look at the more political songs, she sings about social justice and human rights and race issues. They’re obviously just important now as they were when she sang them in the ’60s. So in my mind, the music is timeless and the themes are timeless because they talk about universal human issues.”

Joan & Joni

With: Allison Shapira and Kipyn Martin

WHERE: Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

HOW MUCH: $19.62-$10.31

MORE INFO: 583-0022, www.caffelena.org

Martin likes Baez just fine. But she brings Joni to the party.

“She’s very much a painter with her lyrics and I think that’s her talent,” said Martin, who lives in Columbia, Maryland.

“And her message is really able to transcend time and not only that, but the way in which she sings these particular words and images — there’s an authenticity to the way that both Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell sing these songs that really gets to people’s hearts. And that’s, of course, what we aim to do as well.”

Both Shapira and Martin will be on stage at the same time. There will be a Baez song, a Mitchell tune, some original music. And interaction between the two singers.

“We sing harmony on each other’s songs whether it’s our own original music, or we’ll sing harmony on the Joan or Joni songs,” Shapira said, “which is really a treat because Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell really didn’t perform together that often.”

Shapira will offer Baez classics such as “Lily of the West,” “Fare Thee Well” and “Diamonds and Rust.” Martin will remember Mitchell with songs like “A Case of You” and “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Martin also loves Joni’s “Help Me.”

“It feels like the listener is perpetually falling in this really pleasant way, throughout the song,” Martin said. “That’s one of the reasons it’s so successful and why it’s such a neat tune.”

The act has been performing since January.

“I like to joke we met on the Internet,” Shapira said. “We were both attending the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference in November of 2013 and we met on a message board looking for roommates for that conference [in Kerhonkson, Ulster County]. We wound up driving up together, rooming together and driving back.

“During one of those drives, we realized how similarly we were both influenced by two great music legends,” Shapira added.

“I think it was on the drive back where we said, ‘What if we did a show together about our musical influences and what if we called it Joan & Joni,’  and there was such instantaneous support for that idea. We got tremendous support in the folk music community and the music community overall. It’s been successful ever since.”

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