I’ve mentioned Milt Okun here before: He produced Laura’s first album, More Than A New Discovery, but also played a significant role in the careers of such artists as Peter, Paul & Mary, Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba and John Denver. Add to that list the legendary folksinger Odetta–who is pictured here with Milt backstage at a recent L.A. concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the great little Santa Monica folk club McCabe’s. Odetta’s 77–isn’t she gorgeous? And Milt’s 84–he looks fantastic.
I saw Odetta open for Elton John at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in the early 1970s, a time when she ventured briefly into a pop-soul vein. All I remember from that night was the huge rush I got when Elton joined Odetta to sing “Take Me to the Pilot” (which she herself recorded in 1970). Odetta’s career goes way back–she started out in musical theater in the 40s, then joined the folk music movement of the 50s and was a huge influence on the likes of, oh, Dylan and Baez and Joplin. Check out these amazing performances from way back when. Odetta was still out performing this year, but is currently hospitalized with kidney failure. Say a prayer, y’all: Odetta is yearning to sing at our 44th president’s inaguration, and lord knows she deserves that honor. (And wouldn’t she just give Barack the boost he needs as he sets out to lead us through these challenging times!)
Thanks to Sherry Rayn Barnett for this photo–she’s an old friend, a fellow music nuthead (and a musician herself) and a terrific photographer. Two of her photos of Laura appear in my book, and she’s pretty much shot everyone who’s anyone in music over the past few decades. In her past life, she was also a member of a wonderful comedic women’s band of the 70s–check out The New Miss Alice Stone Ladies Society Orchestra. That’s Sherry on guitar, and my dear friend Miriam Cutler singing lead on “(They Say That) White Girls (Can’t Sing the Blues),” a premise it’s hard to disagree with when you listen to Odetta sing.