The return of Judy Blue Eyes

“I have to tell jokes and keep people laughing… when you sing all those sad songs you have to!” singer Judy Collins tells the Dayton City Paper. Picking up where they left off, folk heroes Judy Collins and Stephen Stills are touring America together this summer. Last year they made an album together and played […]

Judy Collins and Stephen Stills musically reminisce at Schuster


Stephen Stills and Judy Collins will grace the Schuster with songs spanning
both their careers.

By Allyson B. Crawford

“I have to tell jokes and keep people laughing… when you sing all those sad songs you have to!” singer Judy Collins tells the Dayton City Paper.

Picking up where they left off, folk heroes Judy Collins and Stephen Stills are touring America together this summer. Last year they made an album together and played about 50 shows, criss-crossing the country. Now the warm weather is here and the former lovers and lifelong friends are back on the road. They will perform together in Dayton at the Schuster Center for a special engagement on Monday, June 11.

“One of the surprises is that it is so much fun!” laughs Collins “We have a great time singing together. We’ve replaced some of the songs from last year. I think people will have a great time, especially singing ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ at the end!
It’s a wonderful song.”

A wonderful and famous song. Stills wrote ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ after his two-year relationship with Collins ended. Crosby, Stills & Nash recorded it for their 1969 self-titled album. That album helped the band win the 1970 Grammy for Best New Artist. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” was also a top 40 hit for the band.

It remains the most famous piece of work from their tumultuous love affair.

A professional musician for nearly 60 years, Collins is at once known for her clear soprano and liberal activism. A perfect fit for folk royalty, she has melded her vocal talent with personal passions to carve out a place for herself in American music history. She typically covers Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Collins won a Grammy in 1968 for her version of Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” In 2003, The Recording Academy inducted Collins’ version of “Both Sides Now” in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Songs for this honor are considered “historically significant with lasting qualitative value” and over 25 years old.

During this summer’s tour, Stills and Collins give each other the freedom to perform whatever they wish. For Collins, this means performing new songs, including “River of Gold” and “Maria,” a track about undocumented immigrant children, more commonly known as “Dreamers.”

“I will sing ‘Maria’ at the Dayton show,” explains Collins. “Soon it will be out with its own video of ‘Dreamers’ of course. This is a terrible thing we’re doing [as a country]. We can lead the way instead of setting up barriers. We’re not doing that and it’s just disgraceful. We’re all immigrants. All of us!”

The future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been uncertain for months. Nearly 800,000 individuals have DACA status because they were brought to America by their parents. President Trump ended the Obama-era program, requesting Congress create a long-term fix. Nothing has happened at the legislative level and the Dreamers remain in limbo and are often seen as political bargaining chips.

“Hate and fear is normal in human beings,” Collins continues. “Especially when they get a ringleader like the one we have on board now… he turns it up. That’s what is scary. It sets the tone and people revert to their primitive behavior.”

The passion that led Collins to write “Maria” is what keeps her going creatively.

“I love songwriters,” she says. “I write like a maniac. I’m constantly writing, thinking about lyrics and words and poetry. How it informs our lives. If you don’t listen to music and visit museums and find solace in the creative life, I think you’re missing out on 99% of the fun.”

For the tour, Collins and Stills share a backing band, featuring musicians they’ve worked with in the past, including Collins’ musical director.

“This is a new experience for all of us,” laughs Collins, thinking about the time she and Stills got the idea to finally record and eventually tour together. Crosby, Stills & Nash, along with Collins, all performed at an AARP convention in Orlando several years ago. The night Richie Havens, Collins and Crosby, Stills & Nash performed, The Orlando Sun-Sentinel noted the event was billed as a “Woodstock Reunion.”

After that little Woodstock, Stills and Collins began to chat more and collaborate. There were phone calls and dinner plans. The eventual result was the 2017 release Everybody Knows featuring new recordings of classic folk songs by legends such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, plus their own original tracks.

A prodigious worker, Collins is unfazed by the rigors of the road, even at 79.

“I had to dig in and work my ass off to have any kind of career. I was always working hard,” she admits. In addition to her summer tour with Stills, Collins also fits in solo shows. Plus she’s a bestselling writer and occasional actress.

During the Dayton stop, expect Collins to spin a yarn in between her songs, as folk heroes like to do. Expect a joke or two as well.

The Stills & Collins show is Monday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. at The Schuster Center, 1 West Second St. Tickets start at $38 and are available at TicketCenterStage.com. Special guest pianist and singer Kenny White will open the show. For details, visit victoriatheatre.com

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com

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