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Janis Joplin

One cannot discuss contemporary women of Blues without including Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin is and always will be a significant cultural icon of the sixties and contemporary blues. Amidst the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, and women’s liberation, the winds of change swept across our country and delivered a package wrapped in paisley and pink boas, namely Janis Joplin. The popularity and use of mind-expanding drugs had ushered in a rush of creativity which encompassed all genres of art. To think outside the box was the norm. Music became more than just about love or unrequited love. It was about a unifying love of humanity and was the most powerful model of communication of the era. Spiritual growth and mindfulness came naturally and were not reduced to an app on a cell phone timed to go off at a certain time. Abuse of capitalism and right-wing ideology began to smother the flame of hope that the sixties offered, but the embers were still burning through mid-seventies. There were other iconic singers and musicians representative of that era, but of all the women, no one took the world by storm like Janis Joplin.

Janis Joplin’s iconoclastic bohemian style further perpetuated a look that was already emerging in society. Contemporary, as well as avant-garde, merged in her style and in the world in which she lived. Appreciation for the nostalgic was evident in her appearance and performances.

“Summertime”, a Gershwin song originally written for the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess”, although a jazz tune is oftentimes a favorite of blues performers. Janis Joplin’s rendition of this song is passionate and hauntingly mesmerizing. Her delivery is strong and forcefully exemplifies her range and improvisational talent.

Another one of my favorites is “Ball and Chain”, a blues tune written and originally recorded by Willa Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. “Big Mama”, was the first to record “Hound Dog.” Janis Joplin definitely takes this song to a different level, defining it as her own.

Another Janis Joplin song which is a must-listen is “Piece of My Heart”. This song was initially recorded by Erma Franklin in 67 and is equally as satisfying, but Joplin made the song a hit in 68.

Today Janis Joplin is best known for her song “Mercedes Benz” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” “Mercedes Benz”, was written by Joplin and two popular beat poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth. The song is a satirical statement about our materialistic society and is sung a capella by Joplin on her “Pearl”, album, which she recorded with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company 1970.

Janis Joplin may have owned a Mercedes Benz at some point, but she truly owned a 1964 Porsche, which she had custom painted. Here it sits on display at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The car sold at Sotheby’s auction for 1.76 million in 2015.

“Me and Bobby McGee”, was written by Kris Kristofferson and launched his career to stardom at a time when he was ready to pack it up and leave Nashville. The version I’ve included is just her sweet whimsical voice and guitar.

Janis Joplin was found deceased by her friend, Peggy Caserta, at the Landmark Hotel of Hollywood on 10/4/70. It is said that she died of a drug overdose. Dearly loved by millions, Janis Joplin’s spirit remains strong through her Fan’s memories and her music.

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Deborah Coleman

10/13/56 – 4/12/18

I found Deborah Coleman by accident, while researching another artist. Immediately I could hear the influence of Hendrix and Muddy Waters, in her clever rendition of Muddy Waters’s “I’m a Man”, which she sang as “I’m a Woman.” I was hooked, her music drew me in, and I had to hear more. While looking for biographical information, I discovered that she had recently passed away in 2018. I had been so moved by her music, that I had begun to develop a sense of connectedness with her. The news of Deborah Coleman’s death took me by surprise. It was not what I expected and certainly not what I was looking for. I knew I had to feature and share the music of this beautiful and gifted talent, Deborah Coleman.

Deborah Coleman grew up in Portsmouth Virginia, in a home full of music. She had three siblings, all of whom either played guitar or piano. She grew up in the sixties and seventies listening to Hendrix, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Cream. After attending a concert where Muddy Waters, Howlin’Wolf, and John Lee Hooker appeared, Deborah appreciated the influence of blues in rockn’ roll. Given that and a strong desire to connect with roots of her own, Deborah latched on to blues.

The Dream is an instrumental and really shows her talent as a musician. This video was recorded at a venue in Europe.

Deborah Coleman had an extensive recording career. After winning the Charleston Blues Festival’s national talent contest, Deborah used her winnings to take her career to the next level. She formed her own band called the Thrillseekers, which included Roxanne potvin and Sue Foley. The prize from the talent contest was recording time at a studio, where she and the newly-formed Thrillseekers recorded their first album “Takin’ a Stand”, released in 1995. Her career continued to flourish. She was a nine time nominee for the W.C. Handy Blues Music Award, and in 2001 she was the winner of the Orville Gibson Blues Award. In 2007, she also collaborated with Potvin and Foley on an album called “Timebomb.” An instrumental by the same name appears on the album and features the skills of each, Coleman, Foley, and Potvin. Roxanne Potvin and Sue Foley are two more amazing and accomplished female blues artists.

I feel fortunate to have Deborah Coleman’s music embedded permanently on my favorites playlist. Now, I must crawl out from under the rock I have been living under, and find more precious gems like Deborah Coleman.

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Beth Hart

   At an early age Beth Hart exhibited the focus and commitment required to be a serious performer. She attended the LA School for Performing Arts, where your acceptance is determined by an audition. She completed 13 sessions of the TV show Star Search and won the final round. By 21 she had already recorded her first album, Beth Hart and the Ocean of Souls. Her first hit song was in 1999, LA Song from only her second album titled Screaming for My Supper.

A notable time in her life was when she performed at the Kennedy Center in 2012. As a tribute to Buddy Guy she and Jeff Beck performed the blues classic I’d Rather Go Blind, to a standing ovation by President Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama.

Again Beth Hart paired up with Jeff Beck at the 2013 Crossroads Festival performing the song by Howlin’ Wolf I Ain’t Superstitious. She also collaborated, as the featured artist on the album Slash, with Slash from Guns and Roses. The albums Seesaw 2013, Live in Amsterdam 2014, and Black Coffee were recorded with Joe Bonamassa. The album Seesaw was nominated for a Grammy. In 2018 Beth Hart was awarded the Blues Music Award for “Instrumentalist vocals.” Hart is best known for her deep, powerful, and occasionally vibrato vocals, but she is also skilled at guitar, keyboard, cello, and drums. Although she covers many songs, she is a prolific songwriter and writes most of the songs she currently performs.

Beth Hart has an extensive following in Europe where her tour begins this month in the UK. Hart’s tour dates start this month and extend until the end of July. She will be performing songs from her latest album titled War in My Mind, which was released 9/27/19.

Beth Hart’s and Joe Bonamassa’s live performance of I Love You More Than You Will Ever Know is a crowd pleaser.

Hart’s career has been a rollercoaster ride of extreme ups and downs, riddled with drug addiction, which she openly discusses. Her problems were compounded when diagnosed as bipolar,which under a doctor’s care, she has in check. She must be doing something right. If you get a chance watch her performance at the Baloise Session 2018 and you can see a healthier and happier looking performer. She is absolutely stunning. When she speaks she sounds optimistic about the future.

Beth Hart’s sweetness shines through as she lets us see a bit of her vulnerability, when she does the intro to her song Leave the Light On. The song echoes images of a troubled upbringing, strained relationships, and struggles with addiction.

. Beth Hart has firmly established herself as a lasting icon of contemporary blues. She has persevered and weathered some fierce storms and come out even stronger, performing at a level that most can only aspire to.

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Samantha Fish

Samantha Fish is probably one of the most successful female blues musicians in the world. If you haven’t heard of her you are just new to the genre or you haven’t been paying attention. If you don’t believe that she is one of the most successful female blues musicians in the world, then you would have to agree that she is one of the most hard working. She has already begun touring for the year of 2020 and has approximately 60 concert dates scheduled, between now and the end of summer. Her first album was recorded in 2009 and she has since recorded nine more, the most recent being Kill or Be Kind, in 2019. She has accomplished more by the age of 30 than most people have in a lifetime. She has received numerous awards including Best Independent Female Blues Artist in 2016 and 2017, by The Independent Blues Awards, Artist of the Year 2016, by The Independent Blues Awards, and numerous others. A full list of her albums, awards and tour dates can be found at samantha fish.com.

When Samantha Fish performs she owns the stage and plays guitar as if she were born to do just that. She has a sassy retro glamorous look that is uniquely her own and seems to suit the music that she plays. Her performances are usually sold out and once you’ve heard and seen her perform you will understand.

Samantha Fish’s rendition of I Put a Spell on You, made my husband’s jaw drop. I love it when that happens. Her sultry voice projects a deep emotional wisdom with guitar licks to match.

The guitar that she’s playing in the above video is the Samantha Fish Signature Guitar. It was custom made especially for her by Delaney Guitars of Austin Texas. Notice the carved out fish in the body. A guitar just like hers can be purchased from Delaney Guitars for a little more than $2,300. For slide guitar Samantha prefers her Fender Telecaster. She is also fond of her four string cigar box guitar and actually organized and performed at the first annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival this year in New Orleans.

No Angels, is another song where she really delivers. Her unique voice and slide guitar skills are really showcased here:

In this next song Samantha fish shows us why the cigar box guitar has made such a comeback.

The cigar box guitar dates back to the civil war and was probably invented out of a desperate need for music. It has made quite a comeback in the last few years, and many artisans are creating unusual and elaborate versions.

On Samantha Fish’s Facebook page, you can purchase numerous items, such as tshirts, a signed or unsigned metallic marble lp of her latest album, Kill or Be Kind. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention, you can purchase a signed Fender Ventura 60’s Jaguar guitar for $1681.

Samantha Fish is insanely talented, and I hope you take the time and enjoy more of her music.

For those of you who are interested in learning to play guitar, I noticed that there is a list of Samantha Fish songs on Gtabs.You can start learning at any age. It just takes time, dedication, and patience. I truly want those of you who have an interest really give it a try. There are numerous tutorials on YouTube that offer very good instruction and most of these are free. I hope in the future that I can feature some of your work.

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Jenn Grinels

Jenn Grinels is a northern California singer, song writer and musician. Her style encompasses several genres. Her blues influence renditions are, of course, my favorites. She belts these tunes out with emotion that seems to come from an inner strength that delightfully crescendoes through her powerful voice.

If you are not sitting down, perhaps you should, because everyone I have played this video for has been blown away.

Another song which she delivers with the same intensity is Misery: https://youtu.be/98810JmUaT0

Jenn Grinels performs at numerous arts centers, college campuses, and seems to really be in her element when she performs at smaller venues where she casually interacts with her audience.

Grinels has a couple of concert dates coming up. One in Portland OR, on 2/21 and one in Newark OH, on 5/09.

For those guitar enthusiasts out there, the chords to some of Jenn Grinels songs can be found on the Ultimate Guitar AP. This app provides you with a myriad of songs with guitar chords and also has a feature that helps you create your own video. So, those of you who can belt one out and play guitar might want to check it out and share what you come up with. I look forward to Future responses.

I found Jenn Grinels by accident and am so glad I did.

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Susan Tedeschi

Susan Tedeschi is one of today’s most successful and renowned blues performers. Not only is she married to one of America’s most beloved and skilled blues performers, Derek Trucks, she too has become a permanent and beloved fixture of the genre. Susan Tedeschi’s band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band was founded in 2010 and originated in Jacksonville Florida.

One of my favorite videos is of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks performing backstage at the Whitehouse February 21, 2012. Listen to Susan’s quintessential blues voice as she sings a classic blues song written by Muddy Waters, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” I love hearing unplugged acoustic performances like this. It brings a more personal element that you don’t get with an electric full blown concert experience. This event at the Whitehouse was called the Red, White, and Blues event.

If you are just starting a blues playlist, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is a must have. Tickets to see the band are already on sale with the first concert date 1/24/20 and ending 7/31/20. This concert is a must see. Some of the concert dates are already sold out.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band has numerous albums including Made Up My Mind, which was best Rock/Blues Album if the year 2014, Let Me Get By, which won the same in 2017. Everybody’s Talkin’ 2012 and Live from the Fox Oakland 2017 are two live albums.

If you are like me, and interested in learning more about the blues you might want to checkout Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festivals Founded in 1998, the festival was created to help fund the Crossroads Centre Antigua rehab center founded by Eric Clapton, which incorporates a whole person wellness approach to recovery. Some of the most renowned blues performers make repeat appearances at the Crossroads Festivals year after year.

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“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen

One of the things that I look forward to, are Friday nights, when I get together with my husband Rick and have a few beers and listen to music. We are both partial to the blues and get great satisfaction in discovering new music throughout the week and sharing it with each other. Sometimes we share music by artists we have never heard before, rare recordings of old favorites, or just about anything. My favorite thing to do is to play a recording of an amazing blues guitar jam and see his mouth form the word wow and ask me, “Who is that?” He’s caught on to this game now as my response is usually the same. It’s usually some outstanding and highly skilled female musician. Yes, that’s right, women can rock the blues with as much skill and precision as men and we definitely feel the music. You can hear it in our voices, in the way we move our bodies, and the way we can play guitar and make it sound like we are channeling blues spirits from heaven.

I actually seek out women blues singers and musicians on YouTube, and sometimes discover them on our local blues station in Marion Ohio TruBlues975, and on NPR. NPR is a great resource for discovering new talent and recordings by old talent as well. The first time I heard Tracy Chapman sing Fast Car was on NPR. Gov’t Mule, The Wood Brothers, the first time I heard Champagne and Reefer by Buddy Guy, Dereck Trucks Band’s Joyful Noise and numerous others,was on NPR. I would venture to say that NPR has launched many careers by their excellent fine tuned ear for what hits the mark. Another reliable source for good music is the Facebook Blues Society. If you haven’t already joined, please do. You won’t be disappointed. Their administrators makes sure that they feature the cream of the crop in new and already well established talent. I don’t think a day goes by without my listening to one of their posts as you can always count on them to share the best of talent.

My intention for this blog is to focus on female artists. I would like to feature at least three female blues artists a week. I plan to discuss how they got started, their main influences, their instruments of choice and any advice they may have for women just starting out in the business. This may require some research on my part, but as an avid and passionate listener, the pleasure is mine.

I would also like to feature your music as well. As soon as possible I would like for any of our female readers to submit a sample of their work and we can feature one of those weekly as long as responses are numerous enough to do so. I also look forward to your responses to my posts and others as well. Just please keep it friendly, positive, and fun.