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jason hanley :: Blog

The Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen Joins the Rock Hall in Tribute to Janis Joplin

Thursday, November 12: 12 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
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 ...


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Rock and Roll Night School Spotlights Janis Joplin

Tuesday, November 10: 2:02 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
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 ...


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Big Brother and the Holding Company Kick Off 14th Annual American Music Masters Honoring Janis Joplin

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 ...


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Electropop and the “Ah-Ha” Moment in the Classroom

Tuesday, September 22: 4:56 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Jason Hanley, director of education at the Rock Hall

An inside look at the SAGES program.

Many people are surprised when they learn that we teach all ages at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – from toddlers to adults. As a Presidential

Fellow in Case Western Reserve University’s SAGES program  (the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) I have been teaching Rock and Roll Hall of Fame courses to undergraduates for the last three years with topics such as “Writing Rock and Roll” and “Rock and Roll Subcultures.”

When I teach, I always try to lead students to that elusive “ah-ha” moment, when they begin to really understand why the subject matters.  Last week in my college course “Electro Pop: The History of Popular Electronic Music,” the class had that kind of moment. Through our discussion of Luigi Russolo’s 1913 essay The Art of Noises students realized that electronic music allowed them to use any and all sounds.  Because of this it gave each of them, regardless of their musical background, a chance to be composers.  And that musicians and artists have been saying that since as early as 1913.  Ah-ha.

Last year, Ted Ottaviano of the synth-pop band Book of Love contacted ...


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