Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known who Judy Collins is. Not that many Millennials seem to be familiar with the legendary folk singer songwriter. My mother used to sing her songs to me as I lay in bed awaiting for dreams to greet me. I specifically remember hearing the words “Angel comes into my room, it’s dark and so is she,” spilling out of my mother’s lips. Another couple lines that are all too familiar are “Oh say, don’t you remember they called me ‘Al’? It was ‘Al’ all the time. Say, don’t you remember I am your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?”
These songs, in a way, shaped my love for music and how I bond with my parents. Music is a huge thing for both of them. They have hundreds of records and continue to add to their collection. Speaking of bonding AND Judy Collins, 8 months ago we purchased tickets to see Judy Collins in Menomonie, WI at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. Excitement filled me! I was so excited, not fully because I was going to see Judy, but that my mother would be able to see her. Knowing that this folk legend was her favorite singer since she was 17, I knew this would be a chance in a lifetime for her.
Fast forward to this past week, on May 22nd, the day had finally arrived. Both my parents and I got in my car and headed to Menomonie. These days its been hard to get out and do things with them due to my dad’s Parkinson’s, so I am thankful he was up for the trip. We pulled into the town a bit early giving us time to grab some pizza and window shop.
Alas, we approached the beautiful Mabel Tainter. This was my parents first time being in the theater. I had toured it multiple times during my schooling at UW-Stout, although I forgot how intimate the space is. Mabel Tainter ended up being a perfect location for the show. No matter where you sat, we all had a wonderful view of Judy Collins. My parents and I were just a few rows back to the left, with an end seat for my dad – it was a great spot. They admired the decor in the theater, intricate carvings and the up keep from renovations. There really is no place like this around and even Ms. Collins agreed.
Soon the lights began to dim and they alerted us that photography, videography, recordings of any kind were not allowed. I look around the room realizing I was probably the youngest person at the show, but that also didn’t mean all of these folks didn’t have smart phones. This would be a tough challenge for me, as I had hoped to get a photo of Judy, but alas my parents and I took some quick selfies and I shut my phone off.
Before we knew it, she was on stage gracing us with beautiful vocals and guitar while a man (I cannot recall his name) played piano. Many of the songs I wasn’t familiar with – which I figured was fair, as I found out she has over 50 albums! My mom on the other hand owns over half of these – I glanced over to her mouthing words and tears in her eyes.
Song after song was wonderful. I could hardly believe that this lady had played music live for 59+ years and just last year performed at over 50 places! She also looked incredibly amazing for being 79 years old! (whoa I actually thought she was 71 and I just looked it up!) I hope I look that good in my older years. Something I found really cool was that I could tell it was her by her eyes. Her eyes are just so distinct to me.
Anyways, Ms. Collins performed for little over an hour and 15 minutes. Not only did she sing, play guitar and piano, but she let off some comical vibes. In between songs Judy told stories of her family, specifically her father and his musical career. She spoke of moments on tour when she was younger and joked about her Irish heritage. It made for quite a personable experience and mixed laughter with seriously beautiful vocals. I found out she writes a lot on the road and has a multitude of books. I’m hoping these too include her humor.
At the end of the show, she sang amazing grace and had everyone join in. The room filled with a chorus of what I was sure to be hard core Judy Collins fans. This made the intimate space that much more magical.
Upon leaving the show I snagged a signed album for my parents and they purchased a CD and her latest book ‘Cravings’. The album is her newest one from 2017 titled ‘Everybody Knows’ with folk legend Stephen Stills. (Legends times two!) As we packed up into the car to head back home my mom thanked me numerous times for bringing them and my dad went on about how excellent the show was (his new favorite word).
This was a bonding experience with my parents that I’ll never forget. Though there were some tough times during the show for my father. I already look back at how amazing this opportunity was for us. I’m so happy I was able to experience this with my parents. Thank you Judy Collins for coming to a little town near us. She is truly a talented lady and quite the legend. If you haven’t heard of Judy and you enjoy chill folk music with meaningful lyrics, definitely look her up and give her a listen. My favorite album, which has the songs from the beginning of this article, is ‘Judith’.