AMERICAN MUSIC MASTERS :: Blog
Thursday, November 12: 12 p.m.
Jorma Kaukonen performs in the Rock Hall's Foster Theater on November 11, 2009. Photo: Rock Hall/Jan
American Music Masters is in full swing. Last night our signature Hall of Fame Series featured Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Jorma Kaukonen – a founding member of two legendary bands, the Hall of Fame Inducted Jefferson Airplane, and the still-touring Hot Tuna. The packed audience was treated to a special evening of live music and conversation that gave us all an insider’s look into the San Francisco music scene that Janis Joplin was a part of in the 1960s.
Some of the most fascinating discussion of the night came when Kaukonen talked about how in the early 1960s he had moved from Washington D.C. to Ohio, and finally out to San Francisco. As a new student at Santa Clara University Kaukonen walked into a small club that was featuring a hootenanny (a term typically used at the time to describe a folk-music party). That night he met several people who would become his friends, among them Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin. When asked about his time with Janis he described how they were all learning about music together. Everyone was caught in the folk craze, looking back at classic blues and country music. Jorma described how ...
Wednesday, November 11: 12 p.m.
L-R: Rock Hall education manager Stephanie Heriger with educator Nancy Boutilier. Photo: Rock Hall/J
Rock Hall’s Education Manager Discusses Tuesday’s Teachers Rock Event
It’s hard to watch Girls Rock!, the acclaimed documentary about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, and not be moved. As a woman, I saw myself – every part of myself – in the girls featured in the movie. As a female musician, I wished that I could have attended a camp like this when I was younger (or now, for that matter). As an educator and former elementary school teacher, I recognized a lot of my students (male and female) in the stories told on-screen. And as a member of the Education staff here at the Rock Hall, I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the world of Girls Rock! and the legacy of this year’s American Music Masters honoree – Janis Joplin. I realized very quickly that Girls Rock! would be a great way to get teachers to think about and discuss a lot of the complicated issues surrounding teaching in the 21st century – all through the power of rock and roll and the lens of Janis Joplin’s life and music.
Yesterday afternoon, as part of our monthly Teachers Rock series, I was joined ...
Tuesday, November 10: 2:02 p.m.
Rock and Roll Night School on November 9. Photo: Rock Hall/Janet Macoska.
Rock Hall’s Director of Education Discusses the Sound of Janis’ Voice
Last night we hosted the first event of American Music Masters week: Rock and Roll Night School at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. The evening featured multi-media presentations by Dr. Lauren Onkey, Dr. Mary Davis (Chair of the Music Department at CWRU), and myself, examining Janis Joplin’s contributions to rock and roll history.
My presentation focused on what I most love about Joplin: her voice! Her vocal performances are so moving. She makes you feel something. She makes you want to jump and shout, dance and sing. People often talk about the wild abandon of her voice, as if she experienced a kind of rapture in her performances that pushed her and her audience to the edge. But after diving deep into her music over the last year I realized that her performances of rapture were just that, performances. It’s not that she didn’t feel them, but as a performer she worked at refining the way she created these moments for her audience. A great example of this is her performances of the classic Big Mama Thornton tune “Ball ...
Monday, November 9: 2:11 p.m.
American Music Masters week has arrived! We kick things off tonight with a special edition of Rock and Roll Night School on Janis Joplin’s career at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. Everybody’s cranking Janis tunes around here today—in the last 10 minutes, I’ve heard “Ball and Chain,” (twice!) “Maybe,” “Bye Bye Baby” and “Cry Baby.”
I’m pleased to announce that we’ve added three artists to the bill for Saturday evening’s concert at PlayhouseSquare: Rock Hall Inductee Michael Carabello will be joining his old Santana bandmate Gregg Rolie during the show. Mike is a fantastic percussionist—he’s recorded with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and the Rolling Stones, among others. Blues singer and songwriter Nick Gravenites will also be joining us. Nick crossed paths with Janis Joplin in the early 1960s during her first trip to San Francisco. Nick wrote “Buried Alive in the Blues,” which Janis was due to record for Pearl when she died (an instrumental version appeared on the final album). He has written songs for Paul Butterfield, The Electric Flag, James Cotton, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, among many others. And our last ...
Tuesday, October 27: 4:14 p.m.
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Were you there? Do you remember when? As we gear up for our 2009 American Music Masters celebration, Kozmic Blues: The Life and Music of Janis Joplin, a few friends and colleagues reminded us that the master herself graced different stages in Cleveland in 1968 and 1969, and her performances still resonate with attendees. Jane Scott remembered that Janis exploded onstage at Public Hall in October of 1968. Advertisements of Janis’ May gig at the same place were splashed across the pages of the Plain Dealer. Pat Garling described her August 30, 1969 Blossom show as “musical magnificence.” Whether you attended one of the Public Hall performances or the gigs at Blossom, what do you remember about them? Did you “revel in psychedelic brainwash?” Were you jolted and held? What stayed with you? Feel free to reminisce here, and share your unforgettable memories.
- October 4, 1968: Big Brother and the Holding Company at Public Hall
- May 9, 1969: Kozmic Blues at Public Hall
- August 29, 1969: Janis ...
Monday, October 26: 4:17 p.m.
Big Brother and the Holding Company perform in the Rock Hall's Foster Theater.
Last Thursday, Big Brother and the Holding Company kicked off the 2009 American Music Masters celebration, Kozmic Blues: The Life and Music of Janis Joplin. Sam Andrew, Dave Getz, and Peter Albin, three original members of the band, spent the day in Cleveland to help us tell the full story of Janis Joplin’s career. They filmed interviews for our Library and Archives, did an interview and performed in our new Foster Theater, and capped the night with a packed show at the Beachland Ballroom. Clevelanders Mary Bridget Davies and Ben Nieves joined them on vocals and guitar.
Big Brother played their first gig in January of 1966, six months before Janis Joplin joined them. When they decided that they wanted another vocalist in the band, Chet Helms suggested his friend from Austin, Texas, Janis Joplin. On paper, it seems like an odd match: Big Brother was known for their energy and power—in retrospect, they seem like a punk band—but Joplin had never sung with a rock band before. Yet they found common ground in their love of blues and folk music, and they quickly discovered that Joplin could “bring it,” as Dave Getz said last week in ...
Thursday, August 13: 5:45 p.m.
Photo from the 2008 American Music Masters tribute concert, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fa
It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves music. Les Paul passed away. He was truly one of the greats. He was a great guitar player. He was a great innovator, responsible for the solid-body electric guitar and for multi-track recording. He had an amazing life. He spent 94 years here on earth. And his mind stayed sharp the entire time, and he continued to perform, playing at a New York club every Monday night until recently. I had the privilege to know Les. When we were first working on the Museum, I called him and he told me he was giving all of his things to the Smithsonian. A few years later, he called me and said he was coming to Cleveland to see his doctor and he wanted to see the Hall of Fame. I gave him a tour, and at the end he said, “Jim, you are right. This is where my stuff belongs. If I gave everything to the Smithsonian, I would be lucky if they put one guitar on the wall. And it would probably be next to Judy Garland’s red slippers and no one would care about my guitar.” We then ...