In her new show “Canyon Folkies” Lauren Fox has arranged for us a delightful, moving tour through the period during the 1960s and 70s when Laurel Canyon in California was an amazing proving ground for musical groups that gravitated there and produced a barrage of hits that excited legions of fans. The superb Ms. Fox can not only sing in ways that send chills up and down one’s spine. She sophisticatedly informs us about the period and the stars, their personal lives and their music, and makes her performance informational as well as pleasurable.
In the meticulous performance that I saw at the Metropolitan Room on Saturday afternoon, November 10, 2012, the mood was quickly established as she opened with a beautiful interpretation of Jackson Browne’s 1971 “A Child in These Hills.” The attractive Ms. Fox displayed the customary elegance, eloquence and thorough command of her lyrics and musical range.
She was obviously in awe of the period as she talked about the groups and individuals personifying Laurel Canyon in its musical heyday, such as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, The Byrds, The Mamas & the Papas, The Eagles and Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. She extracted amusement and wistfulness from the romantic permutations that were happening.
“Our House” and “Willy,” for example, by Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell, were performed as expressively romantic. Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” was sung with painful soulfulness. She gave the impression that she had time-traveled back to the era and the place as if she were part of it all.
It should be said right here that Fox was singing with three top-notch and well-coordinated musicians--music director Jon Weber at the piano, Peter Calo on guitar and Ritt Henn on bass. They frequently sang along with her, giving the show extra oomph and bounce, as well as taking the spotlight for solid instrumental solos.
There was variety in Fox’s choices. She treated the audience to two Carole King numbers, “Way Over Yonder” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” She sang Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and Jim Morrison’s “The End.” Jackson Browne’s “Before the Deluge” was also in her repertoire. Stephen Stills was represented by “For What It’s Worth” and “Judy Blue Eyes.” Another highlight was Judee Sill’s “Jesus Was a Cross Maker,” accompanied by her tale of Sill’s fatal battle with drugs. Fox sadly reflected on how many from Laurel Canyon were destroyed by drugs.
When Fox pulled it all together with Jackie DeShannon's “Laurel Canyon,” the effect emerged as an elegy for a glorious, artistically creative time gone by.
One accomplishment that makes Fox so special, apart from her vocal expertise, is her ability to immerse herself in whatever she is singing to an extent that can carry an audience along with her. At the Metropolitan Room that afternoon, we were all back in that period whether we had lived through it or not. At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Review posted November 13, 2012.