Joan Baez, a primary inspiration of Dar Williams, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. Unlike her iconic hero, Williams is extremely unlikely to be similarly honored by the institution.
Yet as one of the most notable folk-based artists to have followed Baez’s lead as a poetic singer/songwriter and resolute political activist, Williams has had an outsized influence on thousands of her admirers.
Not all of Baez’s mentoring of the New York native has focused on creating music and inciting social change. In a conversation the women recently recorded for PBS, Williams recalled that Baez once suggested that she update her bohemian wardrobe, leaving Williams a note that read: “You need to go shopping. Otherwise, you’re perfect.”
Williams’ tour is dedicated to celebrating the 20th anniversary of her 1996 release “Mortal City.” The breakout album includes a handful of time-tested gems that address weighty topics such as religion and sexual orientation without ever seeming didactic.
In a glowing review of the landmark release, a critic for The Los Angeles Times suggested that Williams “has the soul of a poet and the heart of a kid.”
Each date of the tour begins with a lecture. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, a former Kansas poet laureate, will give a presentation prior to Williams’ appearance at the Lawrence Arts Center.
8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4. Lawrence Arts Center. 785-843- 2787. lawrenceartscenter.org. $25.50 in advance.