Lauren Fox will perform tonight in Port Angeles.

Lauren Fox will perform tonight in Port Angeles.

Lauren Fox reunites Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen tunes in Port Angeles concert tonight

By Diane Urbani de la Paz

For Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Joni Mitchell and the late Leonard Cohen had a love affair, short and fierce.

They also had a flock of memorable songs, songs that made — still make — a generation of music lovers swoon.

Lauren Fox, a New York City actress and singer, creates both a conversation and a concert in “Love, Lust, Fear and Freedom: The Songs of Leonard Cohen &Joni Mitchell,” coming to the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., tonight.

Tickets to “Love, Lust, Fear and Freedom” range from the $15 “budget” price to $25 for general admission and $35 for premium seats. For children 14 and younger, tickets are $10.

Tickets will be available at the door. Also, tickets outlets are at Port Book and News in Port Angeles and The Joyful Noise Music Center in Sequim, and the Juan de Fuca Foundation website, jffa.org.

Fox and her band will take the stage at 7 p.m., intent on casting a spell with their set of 16 pieces.

Nine are Mitchell’s songs and seven are Cohen’s because, as any fan knows, his are longer than your average pop ditty.

Fox has been touring with “Love, Lust, Fear and Freedom” for several years, playing venues from the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan to college campuses. This is her first trip anywhere near the North Olympic Peninsula.

“I come entirely from a place of ‘This is the music I love.’ These are two artists I admire so much,” she said in a phone interview from New York City.

Fox gets “giddy,” she admits, when she sings Mitchell’s “All I Want.” And when she does Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” it is “a very provocative moment.”

Fox seeks not to copy either artist but to imbue their music with her own passion, of which there’s plenty, as she portrays the pair in a smoldering “she said, he said” interplay.

“I’ve been told,” she added, “that I make it incredibly intimate,” yet “I can’t tell you how that happens … it’s not calculated.”

But let’s face it: Audiences under a certain age might not know songs such as Mitchell’s “Cactus Tree” or Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.” At one college show, students told her afterward that wow, they were going right home to download these songs from iTunes.

Fox herself is a bit young to have first-hand knowledge of Mitchell and Cohen’s early days on the music scene. And this performer is very much a New Yorker. On the inside, she said, she’s all “hippie chick,” vibrating with “Woodstock” and “Hallelujah.”

“[The songs] are fascinating stories about any human being,” Fox said, because “these are arguably two of the greatest songwriters of our time,” artists who wield a powerful influence over their music-making descendants.

Jon Bon Jovi came to one of her shows a few years ago. Fox didn’t know he was in the audience. Then, after the curtain went down, he came backstage to find her.

“He said, ‘I just want to thank you. I’m going home now, and I’m never going to write another song,’ ” so humbled was this rock star.

Dan Maguire, the director of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, booked Fox for a season concert, sight unseen.

He read a number of rave reviews of her show, such as the one by New York Times critic Stephen Holden. He wrote that “Ms. Fox’s rendition of Mr. Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ was the deepest and most dramatically revealing of any I’ve heard.”

Maguire, for his part, called the subject matter — Mitchell and Cohen’s affair — “irresistible.”

“Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen are, of course, two of our most treasured artists.

“[They are] almost unparalleled in the way their stature as singer-songwriters continues to grow.”

The way their paths crossed in a romance, he said, makes an intriguing footnote in two extraordinary careers.

Maguire thought Port Angeles music lovers might be interested in what Fox could do with the story — along with “getting to hear all those brilliant Joni and Leonard songs.”

More about the foundation and its Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts on Memorial Day weekend can be had by calling the office at 360-457-5411.

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Angeles.

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