We loved Janis and her bravado, her determination to throw it back in your face. She may be gone, but our generation clings to her. Naturally Janis was part of the music scene in
LaurelCanyon. For a long period the homeowner of the Jim Morrison house on
Love Street had a hand-carved totem pole featuring Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, & Jimi Hendrix on display in the front window under the campanile. It was the local affirmation that we hadn’t given up or forgotten. Janis was a break through female performer. Until Janis, there was a de facto prohibition of women in the rock music idiom. “There was a place for women ... all right ”“ as Mary Quant dollies”¦autoharp/dulcimer strumming folk madonnas ...” Rolling Stone Magazine.
Midway through the performance I started to wonder - were there two sides to this performance, written by David Manat? The play offered a tame and sympathetic look into the daily life of Janis. Letters to her parents; performance soliloquies offered as reminiscences of the stories underlying her bluesy lyrics and “shine[d] a spotlight on the great African-American blues artists who influenced Janis’ musical style and career, including Bessie Smith, Etta James and Aretha Franklin”. The frenetic effort to engage the audience at times and pretend that the performance was actually a concert fell flat. Having been to a Janis Joplin concert and worn the grooves out on Cheap Thrills, the on stage performance did not reach your core they way Janis did. It’s wasn’t just that 15’ of amplifiers were not belting out music, or that the Tricia Kelly’s whiskey voice fell short of Janis’ power. When you listened to the one and only original Janis your body and mind hummed with energy. You were never a voyeur; you were always on the adventure with Janis.