SAN FRANCISCO: Janis Joplin has got a new band together, and, from all signs, has gotten herself together, too.
In fact, "Man, I feel so fucking great that I thought I’d put a flower around my wrist." So she broke away from rehearsals with her new band at her home in Larkspur (in Marin County) went across the Golden Gate Bridge and trucked down to a tatoo parlor near the Greyhound bus depot downtown to get get herself a permanent bracelet.
It’s a beautiful tatoo according to reports from girl friends and Janis herself. It’s a baroque bracelet of hearts and flowers, ending with a green, red and yellow flower that falls from the lower wrist into the hand itself. "A lot of my Capricorn girl friends have tatoos," Janis said. "It’s fucking beautiful."
(Janis actually got two tatoos, but she isn’t saying where the other one is. Suffice to say that it’s a little heart placed near Janis’ own.)
As for the band: The new ensemble, replacing Main Squeeze (that was the remotely-known name of the band that came after Big Brother left,) has five members, two old; three new; some country; mostly blues. staying on from Main Squeeze are Brad Campbell, bass and John Till, who replaced Sam Andrews on guitar. New members are Richard Bell on piano, formerly of Ronnie Hawkins’ band; Ken Pearson on organ (he worked on the Jesse Winshester LP); and Clark Pierson on drums. Janis found Pierson at the Galaxie, a North Beach titpub.
They’ve been practicing at janis’ new home in Larkspur and, as Janis reports: "I’m super-gassed. They’re fuckin’ professionals," which is not to say, she emphasizes, that her previous backups were shitty.
Without the brass section she had with Snooky Flowers and Main Squeeze, Janis is moving, she said, toward a country/blues sound. "I’m very hesitant to use "Country" as a label," she said, "it’s more like pretty down blues, more down than R&B, with a little slide guitar. And we’ve got loud electric funky country blues."
"The last time," Miss Joplin said, "it was really quick, getting a band together. this time we’re just playing and not worrying about dates."
Before settling down into her new house, Janis had spent several weeks in South America, getting her head clogged and cleared at the same time. The clogging came in Rio de Janeiro, whose police make US cops look like baby-sitters.
"It’s vicious, man. If you’ve got long hair they can drag you off and never let you out. There’s no judicial system at all there. The cops rape people, put dogs to guys’ balls. And people think we’ve got it bad......"
Up the Brazilian coast, Salvador was completely different. "No cops. In fact, there was nothing there, no entertainment. So it ended up for three nights with me and my friends going to this big whorehouse that had this four-piece band. And I sang with them."
Janis Joplin is sounding and feeling good: "I’ve got my head back," she said, and was guessing that the new band - as yet unnamed - will be out on tour by late May, possibly beginning with gigs around St Louis. There’s a chance, she said, that she’ll be participating in the Peace Train Festival in Montreal.