Photo: John Barkiple
27 Club Artist: Janis Joplin
For SLUG’s 27th birthday, we’ve enlisted six local performers to breathe new life into songs from members of the 27 Club, famous musicians who passed before their time at the age of 27. Be sure to catch SLUG’s 27 Club Anniversary Party at Metro Bar on March 11—doors at 9 p.m., show at 10:30 p.m., $5 at the door.
When did you first hear this artist, and why did they inspire you?
My best friend’s parents were a couple of hippies and were always playing music in their home. Janis was someone I frequently heard playing while I spent time there. The power and grief in her voice continues to be a source of inspiration.
What about this artist’s song(s) that you’ll perform resonates with you, compared to other songs in their oeuvre?
I will being doing a combination of two songs “Mercedes Benz” and “Cry Baby,” using the former as a sort of intro for the later. “Mercedes Benz” was the first Janis song I ever heard and the lyrics have such a wonderful dry dark sense of humor to them. “Cry Baby” is one of those songs that you feel in your gut when you listen to it, which for me is key when picking songs for drag performance.
Why do you feel that this artist’s legacy lives on so strongly today?
Because she was honest. It’s a rare thing in mainstream music these days. If you don’t believe me go listen to FM 107.9. You can almost smell the bullshit through your car speakers.
How will your performance capture this artist and their personality?
I will being doing a good ole’ fashioned drag lip sync. If you watch any video footage of her performing live, pay attention to her face. She feels every single note and shows it. I hope to embody that in my tribute.
How do you feel that your performance style aligns with or complements this artist’s work?
It aligns with it because of our choice to be expressive. I know it doesn’t sound like much but as far as drag is concerned I can’t tell you how many dead faces I’ve seen during a show. We aren’t afraid to show off dynamic with what we do.
In your performance, what changes/stylization will you make to their work?
I’m going to try my best to remain true to how she was onstage and the way she moved her body naturally. Here and there I will add my own flavors of expression.
What iconic imagery will you include in your homage to this artist?
Her beautifully messy brown hair and round rimmed glasses, but most importantly, her face while singing.
What’s a quote or lyric from this artist that’s meaningful/impactful for you?
“They laughed me out of school, out of town, out of state.” I heard this line while watching an interview she did on the Dick Cavett Show. It’s comforting to know that someone you look up to got shit on by their home town too.
What message have you taken from this artist in a positive way in your life?
Drugs don’t care if you are a good person. Watch yourself or you will lose everything.
If this artist was alive today, where in Utah would you take them?
Burt’s Tiki Lounge
What are your thoughts about the 27 Club?
To me the mystery around the 27 Club reminds me too much of Bigfoot or the Bermuda triangle. I think it’s important to use these people’s stories as a learning opportunity. If you want to be a successful performer you need to know how to protect yourself and what kind of situations you can be put in due to the nature of performance/entertainment.