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To her intimate friends, she was known as Pearl. To her enthralled public, she was Janis Joplin, one of the greatest female singers in the history of rock and roll. Best remembered for her rebellious lifestyle, her distinctive voice and liberal outlook on love and life, she unfortunately died from a heroin overdose in October 1970. She was only 27. Her last, and possibly most famous album called “Pearl” was released after her death.

Fans of Janis are in for a real treat this Saturday night, May 20, 2017, from 8pm, at the Memo Music Hall, 88 Acland Street, St Kilda.

who was janis joplin?Chris Keeble, writer, director, producer, stage and tour manager and “all round force of Nature” ( according to Liza Ohlback, star of the show ) has put together a well-researched rockumentary paying homage to Janis/Pearl. Not only her music,

but also her passions and obsessions. It follows her journey from cradle to grave.

Chris too has an ongoing obsession with creating rockumentaries ( see her website www.rockumentary.com.au for a fascinating list of past and upcoming ). They are usually written late at night, after full-time work elsewhere and attending to her family!

who was janis joplin?Pearl-The Janis Joplin Show is an extraordinary story, using narration and audio-visuals interwoven among 20 hit songs that shaped an era where love was fearless and rules were broken. The show features many of Joplin’s unforgettable hits  like “Cry Baby”, “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Move Over” as well as lesser- known songs.

who was janis joplin?Many little known and often surprising aspects of Janis’ life and personality are revealed. The public persona often showed the wild, substance-fuelled woman who was capable of physically knocking out people who offended her –  like Jerry Lee Lewis. Other times, she was soft, vulnerable, humorous and more intelligent than many gave her credit for. How many people knew that her “thrift shop” clothes were actually tailored by a designer who toured with her?

Keeble selected Liza Ohlback to narrate and sing Janis’ songs.” Her beautiful voice is jaw-droppingly good,” she impresses upon me.

I talked Liza about her role. She didn’t set out to copy Janis’ voice. “There’s no way I could’ve done that.”  A professional singer, with an impressive journey of her own in soul, jazz, blues, gospel and rock, she sang the hits with her own powerful voice. However, after doing the show for almost three  years, things started to change. “I do get quite emotional and find myself being someone else. People in the audience cry. Someone came up to me and said, You’re not copying her, but I feel you’re channelling her.”

Liza’s not the only one singing. Jeremy Edwards, musical director, singer, songwriter and guitarist, will sing a couple of songs which add to the biography. One,for example, is Leonard Cohen’s infamous “Chelsea Hotel” which depicts Janis and Leonard’s famous sexual encounter.

Jeremy’s part of a fabulous, talented back up band including George Bibicos piano, organ, strings, Mick Malouf bass, Greg Ohlback drums.

Don’t know about you, but as one whose heydays were the 60’s and 70’s, I just can’t wait to see this show.

who was janis joplin?

by Magda de la Pesca 16 May 2017


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