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A Concert Years in the Making with Stills and Collins

Sep 25, 2017 11:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

Stills & Collins

October 2017
Story by Jordan Venema
Photo courtesy of Stills & Collins

Ryan Stillwater and Michael Cavale, the local music promoters behind Rainmaker Productions, are bringing another national headlining tour to Visalia’s Fox Theatre, but this time it’s a show that has been 50 years in the making.

Stills and Collins – that is, Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and singer-songwriter Judy Collins – will perform in Visalia on November 2 at the Fox Theatre, and according to Cavale, this show is a particularly big deal.

“We don’t get artists like this, this huge,” he says. “These are two original hippies from back when.” 

More than prominent Woodstock-era musicians, Stills and Collins were also a romantic couple who began dating in 1967. They were even a musical inspiration to each other.

“They were lovers,” explains Cavale. “The song ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ was written for her. Now 50 years later, they decide to get together and tour. He’ll definitely play that song.”

The song was actually released in 1967 on the self-titled debut album of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and though the couple was made up of musicians in their own right, they never got around to recording together –until now.

The self-titled Stills and Collins album will be released September 22 in the midst of their 50 years of friendship tour, including covers of original Collins songs as well as Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.”

So the Visalia show will definitely include some classic tunes, but don’t be surprised if it also gets a little personal.

“With the two of them on stage together, there should probably be a lot of stories going back and forth,” agrees Cavale.

That, perhaps, is the real allure for a show of this caliber: the potential for a stroll down memory lane.

Cavale saw Collins in her heyday back in the ‘70s, and has seen Crosby, Stills and Nash “probably three or four times. My parents would never let me go to concerts,” he says with a laugh. “So when I left home in ’68, I made up for it. They were a major part of my life as  a musical artist.” 

Chances are their music has meant a lot to many others, as well.

“They bring a lot of history and memories for people with their songs, from Crosby, Stills and Nash and Buffalo Springfield,” Cavale continues. “So yeah, it’s the memories, and memories are powerful.”

While the Stills and Collins show will probably bring back some memories, you can bank it will also provide a message. A hallmark of every Rainmaker show, a nonprofit or charity is selected to showcase itself before the curtains rise.  

“For each show we select a nonprofit or charity as a beneficiary for each show,” explains Stillwater. This year’s beneficiary will be Full Sail Ministries, which helps women build their relationships with God through artistic expression, worship and teachings from Scripture.

“They go over to Thailand and other foreign countries, but they do conferences here in town for women, and they also do something called Oasis, where people can come for the weekend and worship,” explains Cavale.

It might seem like an unusual pairing, two revolutionary rockers from the Woodstock era and a Christian ministry, but according to Cavale, Stills and Collins liked the idea.

 “I approached them because a Christian ministry associated with a secular band usually doesn’t, well…” Cavale trailed off. “But they thought it was a great concept for them and a show like this.” 

As the beneficiary ministry, Full Sail will be able to present a video before the show and raise money through sponsors. 

“They go out and get corporate sponsors for the show, and the sponsors get recognized at the show, get good seats, and if there’s a meet-and-greet with the artist they’ll get to go,” explains Cavale. “Our shows have raised anywhere between $20,000 and $120,000. And they’ll probably do a short video, and people will get to learn about who this ministry is.”

Sure, the show is for a good cause, and Cavale is ultimately a professional, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t excited to maybe get a chance to meet Stills or Collins.

“Absolutely,” he chuckles. “I’m still a groupie like everybody else, you know?”

The show sold about half its tickets a week after sales began. So Cavale probably isn’t the only one.

Stephen Stills and Judy Collins • November 2, 7:30pm

Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia • (559) 625-1369