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It's a Joni Mitchell concert, sans Joni

Actor and performance artist John Kelly channels the iconic singer-songwriter in his tribute show, 'Paved Paradise: The Art of Joni Mitchell.' Even the real Mitchell is a fan.

April 22, 2010|By Matt Diehl, Special to the Los Angeles Times

JM: I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it's from outer space, but my health's the best it's been in a while, Two nights ago, I went out for the first time since Dec. 23: I don't look so bad under incandescent light, but I look scary under daylight. Garbo and Dietrich hid away just because people became so upset watching them age, but this is worse. Fibers in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer — a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year. But I have a tremendous will to live: I've been through another pandemic — I'm a polio survivor, so I know how conservative the medical body can be. In America, the Morgellons is always diagnosed as "delusion of parasites," and they send you to a psychiatrist. I'm actually trying to get out of the music business to battle for Morgellons sufferers to receive the credibility that's owed to them.

LAT: Your music resonates because it's so personal, yet you resent being called "confessional." Why?

JM: It's an ugly term — it's "confessional" if you don't get it; if you do get it, you see yourself in the songs. I usually use "I" as the narrator in my songs, but not all the "I's" are me; they're characters. It's theater. Tennessee Williams' plays are drawn from personal experience — does that make him "confessional"? If I'm playing Joan of Arc, you wouldn't tell me, "That performance was very confessional." I'm usually the playwright and actress — but in this case, with John, we now have a new actress! Right?

JK: Exactly.

calendar@latimes.com

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