Janis Ian. Photo by Steve Cross.
We don't do the red-wine-and-folk-singer thing on Friday nights very often. It's usually not our speed. We're unsophisticated louts. Rabble rousers. Hooligans. Troublemakers. Not the types that usually sit in on songwriters sharing emotional stories after we've punched the clock on Friday afternoon--we wanna fuck shit up. But we also make exceptions.
This past weekend we put on our finest Alberta Clipper-appropriate outer-gear and braved the arctic tundra over to The Rutledge for Janis Ian and Gretchen Peters. See, these ladies know how to start some shit, and both have been on the receiving end of some serious (if poorly-spelled) death threats--which we can totally identify with.
The nut jobs came out of the woodwork when Ian penned her classic mid-'60s tale of interracial love, "Society's Child," and again in '08 when Peters donated royalty money to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name. (As politicians are wont to do, Palin used the contextually-inappropriate Martina McBride hit, "Independence Day," as theme music. Peters wrote the song, didn't dig the moose hunter. It's pretty frickin' meta.)
The show itself was far more relaxed than you might gleen form the war stories, though. Ian really should start teaching the art of stage banter at some of our local music schools: Her lectures would be worth the insane increases in tuition. Seriously, we see so many songwriters playing the Nick Drake I'm-so-timid-I-might-explode-if-you-clap schitick that having a performer who ranks as downright hilarious while trenching the depths of human strength and frailty is, frankly, really fucking refreshing. Seriously, for all of the aspiring First Name Last Names out there: It's OK to laugh. Lighten up a bit, please. Also, kids, if you're going to cover 'Wild Horses," please keep it killer. When Ian, Peters and keyboardist Barry Walsh dug into that Jagger-Richards classic they set a pretty high water mark, by which you will all be judged. It was badass.