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Justin Vivian Bond Showed Up, Vocally, Emotionally & Politically, in Cherry Grove
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert      |   follow us...

   
photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Justin Vivian Bond
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Justin Vivian Bond returned to the Community House on August 26, courtesy of the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, with Musical Director and pianist Matt Ray, violinist Claudia Chopek, and guitarist NathAnn Carrera, in a show billed as “Justin Vivian Bond Shows Up in Cherry Grove,” but which, Mx. Bond said, is really called “Justin Vivian Bond Shows Up to Slut-Shame the Ladies of [Laurel] Canyon.” Bond soon reminded us, “In my world, everyone’s a lady,” and commented, “We got Old Man Crazy in the White House!”
In the opening number, Bond saluted mellow living and loving in “Laurel Canyon,” Los Angeles, with the musicians assisting on backup vocals. Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins were names that would come up frequently during the evening, starting with Mitchell’s “Conversation,” a song of rivalry and unrequited love, from the “Ladies of the Canyon” album. Bond proceeded, proudly and energetically, to “my anti-assimilationist anthem,” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Almost Cut My Hair” (“I feel like letting my freak flag fly”).
Mx. Bond sang Jim Morrison’s “(She lives on) Love Street,” quizzical and breezy, with drive. Questioning whether the 1960s, when most of these songs were written, were really as carefree as they suggest, Bond probed the darkness beneath, in the Mamas and the Papas’ “Twelve Thirty,” (“Young girls are coming to the canyon/And in the mornings I can see them walking/I can no longer keep my blinds drawn/And I can't keep myself from talking”). With Judee Sill’s quasi-classical “The Kiss,” Bond remembered a teenage romance with a boy who died young. Other pensive laments followed, Stevie Nicks’ “Planets of the Universe,” as a duet with Carrera’s guitar, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Judy Blue Eyes” (“It’s getting to the point/Where I’m no fun anymore”), inspired by Collins.
In a propulsive “Tripping Over Boxes” (“I don’t wanna see you as you’re leaving”), by the Aluminum Group, Bond departed from the Laurel Canyon theme to ponder an unexpected breakup. Vocalizing before the final number, Bond quipped, “Estrogen will give you titties, but it won’t change your voice,” and went on to Ronee Blakley’s song of hope, “She Lays It on the Line” (“She sees me through with those special words we all need to hear: I believe in you”).
For encores, Bond optimistically made the best of a situation in Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s “I Used to Be a King” and, in contrast, dramatically concluded with “a murder ballad,” “Pretty Polly.”

 

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