Big Yellow Taxi. Photo by Julian Parker Burns

A six-piece, New England-based Joni Mitchell tribute band is performing the singer-songwriter’s “Court and Spark” album in its entirety Friday at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

Big Yellow Taxi is fronted by vocalist Teresa Lorenco. The rest of the band is Joe Fitzpatrick (drums), John Cabán (guitar, vocals), Rich Cahillane (bass, guitar, dulcimer, vocals), Anne T. Patterson (vocals, percussion) and Robert Sherwood (piano, keys, bass).

Big Yellow Taxi takes its name from the title of a song on Mitchell’s 1970 album “Ladies of the Canyon.”

The band formed in 2019 in western Massachusetts and has been playing shows along the East Coast since 2021.

In 2015, Mitchell suffered a brain aneurysm, and her recovery was long and difficult. To be able to play guitar again, Mitchell, now 80, had to watch her own performance clips on YouTube.

That was the biggest reason Lorenco started the band, to make sure people could hear Mitchell’s songs performed live when it was uncertain if Mitchell herself would ever be able to.


In 2022, Mitchell shocked the music world with a surprise appearance at the Newport Folk Festival where she performed with singer Brandi Carlile by her side and a huge backing band.

Lorenco recalled how she felt about Mitchell’s return to the stage. “It was such a profound moment. To have her shine like that, like an angel on stage, it was like seeing a resurrection.”

As a teenager, Lorenco discovered Mitchell’s “Blue” album. While she considers Mitchell to be an incredible songwriter and lyricist, it’s the emotional aspect of her songs that made Lorenco a fan.

“The raw opening of her soul, that’s what got people’s attention in the first place,” she said.

“Court and Spark,” released in 1974, is Mitchell’s sixth studio album.

The single “Raised on Robbery” reached the No. 65 spot on the Billboard Singles chart and No. 40 on Adult Contemporary.  “Help Me” went all the way to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.


Lorenco said her favorite song on “Court and Spark” is “Trouble Child.” “The song is transcendent, it’s always interesting.”

Lorenco said that, in the song, Mitchell crosses the lines of what you expect from the content of the words and adds a layer of emotion that makes the listener want to hear it over and over again. With brooding guitar riffs, the occasional trumpet and a lush arrangement of other instruments all working with Mitchell’s mezzo soprano vocals, “Trouble Child” is but one shining track on a flawless album.

“That, to me, is what songwriting should be about, to always to be able catch the ear and put a question or something in the mind that keeps you interested and she’s got that,” said Lorenco.

Lorenco pointed to “People’s Parties” as her favorite “Court and Spark” track to perform live. The song packs a lot of words into just over two minutes:

Photo beauty gets attentionThen her eye paint’s running downShe’s got a rose in her teethAnd a lampshade crown


“I really love singing it. It’s quick, it’s fast, and she’s really cramming all these words and all of this great descriptions of these parties she had with Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson and all these famous people at the time in L.A. and how she’s feeling about it and looking at how other people are feeling,” said Lorenco. “There’s so much happening in the song, and it has a really cool phrasing to it; it’s amazing and always fresh.”

“Free Man in Paris” is another much loved Mitchell track from “Court and Spark” and a YouTube video of Big Yellow Taxi performing it shows that the band is clearly committed to sharing Mitchell’s music with passion and exemplary skill.

Big Yellow Taxi: The Music of Joni Mitchell
8 p.m. Friday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

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