Singing has always been a passion for Joni Morris, but she never knew she could sing well until later in life.
“My mom always told me I had a good voice, but you know how moms are – they can be a bit prejudice,” Morris jokingly said in an over-the-phone interview with tapeunit.com.
Morris is the lead singer of the Patsy Cline tribute band, After Midnight, which will be performing at the Paradise Elks Lodge on Saturday, May 4. Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased at the Paradise Grocery Outlet; PostNet; and Izzy’s Burger Spa. Tickets can also be purchased in Magalia at Jaki’s Hilltop Café; and in Chico at The Music Connection and Grocery Outlet. Tickets are also available online at starbrightshows.com.
Admission is $22, if tickets are bought in advance, or $24 at the door. The doors open at 6, and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Morris’ parents introduced her to country music when she was a child, she said. They both had plans to be professional musicians, but, after getting married and having children, those plans were “on the back burner.” But they still continued to sing and perform – serving as the “entertainment leaders” for their family events.
“My dad comes from a very large family, so I have a lot of aunts; uncles; and cousins, and we would all get together on holidays, and everyone would sing,” Morris said. “My dad would play guitar, and my mom would sing along with him in harmony. That’s how I was introduced to the music of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr., and the traditional legends.”
Many of the tribute artists who visit Paradise only perform in the one band with whom they are performing. Morris performs in multiple tribute bands, she said. Aside from After Midnight, Morris also performs for the Tribute to the Legendary Ladies of Country Music, which performs the songs of Cline, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and many others.
“It’s really fun, because there are a lot of great songs from those artists, and people just love to hear it,” Morris said.
Morris also writes and records her own music, and will sing at least one of her songs at a tribute show, she said. That one song is usually “It’s Hold Me Time.”
“It seems to be the song that is my big hit,” she said, following up with laughter. “If I were to have one, that would be it.”
When she first started singing in front of live audiences, Morris was “very shy,” she said.
“That was my biggest challenge,” Morris said. “But I wanted it so badly that I would force myself to do it over and over again. Gradually, I became more and more confident about doing it. I would see people smile, and, of course, applause becomes addictive. [laughs] And it just makes me happy to make people happy with my voice and entertainment.”
There are at least five songs Morris covers during her performance, she said. Those songs are “Sweet Dreams,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” and “Crazy.” Those are the five songs Morris considers to be Cline’s “absolute best,” and have to be covered at every show, but the set list does change over time.
“As the years go by, we’ll switch songs here and there to make the show fresh to those who have seen us before,” Morris said.
Covering Patsy Cline well is “not something that everyone can do,” Morris said.
“She was such a unique sounding artist – she was so pure and had that voice like velvet,” she said. “She made every story, every song she sang, so believable – the words, the story she would give of heartache and heartbreak.”
“I just knew that, if anyone could do that well, the response from her fans, who still exist today and in huge numbers – I just thought, ‘If someone could really do that music well, they would have it made,’” Morris added. “Because people just long to hear that music again and done well. So, that gave me the idea, and then I kind of ran with it.”
This is Morris’ first time performing at the Elks Lodge, but she has performed in Paradise prior to this upcoming concert, she said. It’s been two years since her last visit, and she can’t wait to perform in the town again.
“I feel very ready to come back to Paradise and have fun with everybody again,” Morris said.
For those who aren’t Patsy Cline fans, Morris believes you will still have a fun time at her performance.
“The show is, I think, unique, because it’s kind of cabaret style to where I’ll change costumes and interact with the audience and tell some funny stories I like to tell,” she said. “So I think everyone who comes will have a really good time, and the band is just fabulous.”
The Paradise Elks Lodge is located at 1100 Elk Lane in Paradise.