Chance Meeting

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

One time I called Bernie Fiedler of The Riverboat in Toronto to try to arrange a coordination of bookings amongst Le Hibou, The Riverboat and the New Penelope in Montreal. In doing so, it would have permitted us to have a better deal and the performers would have three consecutive dates in Canada. However, Bernie Fiedler was not at all interested. He preferred to go it alone. He liked to tell how clever he was to book Simon and Garfunkel for three different dates in the coming year. And of course, as they became more and more popular the club greatly benefited. However, I did manage to interest the New Penelope and we arranged joint bookings. The strategy worked for a while, but it was cumbersome, so finally we dropped it.

Harvey Glatt did the folk bookings at the beginning. These were done mostly through William Morris Agency in New York. Just about any artist could be booked through them. As time went on, I started to do more and more of the bookings and in the last few years I did just about all of the bookings as Harvey became less interested.

In June, l967, an agent from Detroit called me and proposed Joni Mitchell for the coffee house. Joni was growing in reputation and popularity and her agent was anxious to have her play at Le Hibou. Apparently, performing at Le Hibou was good for reputations. The arrangement was for a three week booking. I assumed that word would spread and that it would prove profitable for the coffee house. Joni MitchellI also arranged through Peter Shaw, a music producer with CBC Radio to have her featured at an outdoor concert. This also provided Joni with extra revenue. I had hoped that all that exposure would bring large crowds, but that didn’t materialize. What did materialize was a friendship with Bill Stevenson. Joni loved antiques and Bill shepherded her from one antique store to another. I was told that she did gain some prized pieces, which she took back to Dearborn, where she was living at the time.

At a later date I booked Joni again for Le Hibou, and at the same time Harvey brought Jimi Hendrix to the Capitol Theatre. If I had not had Joni for that same week, and Harvey had not booked Jimi for a concert, the two might never have met. Joni did come back, many more times, to Le Hibou, to ever growing crowds, until only larger venues would cover her fee. She also suggested that I book her husband, Chuck Mitchell, which I did the following year. He was a competent performer but not quite as talented as Joni.

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