Joan Baez will join a star-studded cast of fellow folk-rockers on Thursday, Oct. 12, for a concert to benefit refugees.
It’s one of five that Baez will do for Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees, which raise awareness and money to support expanded educational opportunities for displaced people.
Baez said there are 10 concerts in all and the artists signed on to perform include Lila Downs, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile and Lucinda Williams.
In addition to Baez, Tucson’s concert features Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, The Mastersons and James McMurtry.
“It’s very cool for me,” the 76-year-old singer-songwriter-activist said. “They are fun to be with and it’s a very musically adept group.”
Lampedusa is produced by Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, in partnership with UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Baez, reached at her home last week, said she had worked with the organizers in the past and was excited to do the shows closest to her California home, including in Los Angeles, Tucson, New Mexico and two in Texas.
When we spoke with Baez, the musicians had yet to hold their one and only rehearsal, so she was not sure how the concert would shake out. But she guessed that each artist would do their own short set and possibly sing together at some point.
Baez said one of her big joys of doing the concerts is meeting new artists, especially young artists who are barely aware of her history and the impact she has had on music and social activism. At a recent benefit gig, a female duo tiptoed around her backstage and observed from afar. After a while, the pair determined Baez was “a badass,” the singer said, which made her chuckle.
Well, you are the original badass, you tell her, and the singer, whose career stretches back to 1960 and the birth of the counterculture, is all too happy to accept that.
Baez also is happy to announce that her collection of portraits of social activists dubbed “Mischief Makers” just went on display at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California. It’s a collection of portraits of risk-taking visionaries and people who have brought about social change including Martin Luther King Jr.; folk legend Harry Belafonte; Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi; Vaclav Havel, who led the Czech “Velvet Revolution” that toppled communism in that country; Bob Dylan and other world activists who effected change in the world.
She said she’s been painting seriously for six years and “Mischief Makers” is her first solo exhibit.
Baez has been a regular on Tucson stages since the early 1990s and has developed friendships and a fondness for the area, she said. “I love Tucson. I have friends there and it’s always been beautiful,” she said.