Honouring Joni Mitchell: Jana Varga and Stefan Redtenbacher Shine at Tuesday Night Music Club

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Every Tuesday evening, rain or shine, is a beacon in our week. Promptly at 6:15 pm, I endeavour to secure a prime spot near the front of the queue outside Coulsdon’s Comrades Club, the esteemed venue housing the Tuesday Night Music Club. These past weeks have seen every show sold out, and last night’s performance, featuring the talents of Jana Varga and Stefan Redtenbacher’s band, continued this trend. Jana Varga, among others like Rumer, Mim Grey, Jo Harman, Sarah Jane Morris, and Mike Mayfield, has been touring with various iterations of the Joni Mitchell ‘Reimagined’ show, gracing large venues and festivals internationally.

In this iteration at the Tuesday Night Music Club, Jana Varga brought her distinct interpretation of the show, supported by the exceptional Stefan Redtenbacher on bass, Mike Sturgis on drums, and Pete Billington on keyboard and guitar. Stepping onto the stage, we were treated to two captivating sets comprising Joni Mitchell’s illustrious repertoire spanning her extensive and illustrious career. While not every Joni Mitchell song resonated deeply with me, there were several that struck a chord. Jana’s versatility shone through as she effortlessly traversed Jazz, Blues, Folk, and Pop genres, showcasing her ability to adapt to diverse musical styles. I recall a moment at a different venue where she enraptured the audience with an unaccompanied Slovakian nursery rhyme, solely accompanied by the rhythmic beats of her hand on the guitar—an utterly captivating performance.

The first set of the evening incorporated numerous instrumentals, skillfully executed by the band, prominently featuring Jana’s prowess on the flute, showcasing her multifaceted musical talents. Her instrumental finesse extended to the guitar and keyboard, although Pete Billington adeptly handled keyboard duties on this particular night. Jana’s vocals, characterized by their exquisite clarity, left a lasting impression, prompting thoughts of how sublime a duet with Rumer might be.

As if the evening wasn’t already brimming with talent, the fervent audience of Jana Varga enthusiasts was treated to a selection of her original compositions. To elevate the experience further, Amba Tremain, whose remarkable talent first caught my attention while filling in for Chloe Josephine of Brave Rival during maternity leave, graced the audience. Jana invited Amba onstage, where her beautiful and commanding voice offered a glimpse of her forthcoming performance supporting The Chloe Josephine Band in May.

The night culminated in a well-deserved standing ovation for Jana and her band, followed by an encore featuring Amba once again. Yet, there lingered a tinge of melancholy as it was announced that Simon Taylor of EQ Audio had mixed the sound at TNMC for the last time. After a decade at the sound desk, he bids adieu to Tuesdays to pursue a more leisurely schedule. His absence will undoubtedly be felt, but we extend our heartfelt wishes for success in his future endeavours.

Gratitude, as ever, to Richard Dunning and the dedicated bar staff for orchestrating yet another successful evening at the club.

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