Artist of the day: Liz Hollister
(This week is the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. To celebrate, WMNF-88.5 is throwing a tribute concert featuring Tampa Bay bands performing the music of artists who played at Woodstock. For the next week, we're taking a closer look at some of those local artists, as well as the legends whose music they plan to recreate. Today: Liz Hollister performing as Joan Baez.)
Woodstock alumna Joan Baez is more than a folk singer. She’s a poet, activist and musical folklorist, admired for reinterpreting songs with a lilting, characteristic soprano. Her fierce idealism and anti-war passions underscore her live performances. She later inspired other famous female singer-songwriters, such as Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt.
Randy Wynne, programming director WMNF-88.5, says he chose St. Petersburg performer Liz Hollister to represent Baez because she likewise stands out among women slinging guitars. “The first time I saw Liz Hollister perform, she sang at a female singer-songwriter showcase,” he says. “She wasn’t scheduled to perform but wound up stealing the show.”
Hollister’s musical career began in the Midwest, then the South and later New England. She also performed in theater in Ipswich, Mass., and says that the author John Updike funded a performing arts facility there after seeing her troupe perform.
“Like Joan, I truly enjoy sharing a meaningful, musical story that touches someone’s heart,” Hollister says. “Because I was portraying Susan B. Anthony in regional theater that summer, I was unable to attend Woodstock. Participating in this anniversary will give me the opportunity to experience the energy of that historic event though the collective memories held by the people attending and the music itself. I’m really psyched!”
Hollister’s other hippie-era brushes with fame include performances with John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spooful and Woodstocker Richie Havens.
In the mid-'70s, she lived in Woodstock, N.Y., in the house known as the Big Pink, the inspiration behind The Band’s 1968 debut Music from the Big Pink. Rick Danko and co. no longer lived there at the time.
As for checking out her music, you’ll have to do that in person. Hollister says she doesn’t like posting her music on the Internet and urges people to hear her live.
So, why Tampa, Ms. Hollister?
“WMNF had just started. Rock bands were flourishing. Music stores were busy. I had the good fortune to play with and learn from wonderful players. I went on to perform primarily as a solo act, got married, raised a family and basically retired. I guess once it’s in you – it never goes away. Like the memory of Woodstock.”
Catch Liz Hollister at 2:50 p.m. Saturday, at WMNF's Woodstock tribute concert, which begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $24 at the door.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*