Janis Martin - The Blanco Sessions Cow Island Music
Janis Martin, born in Virginia on March 27, 1940, was already cast member of the Old Dominion Barn Dance at the tender age of thirteen. Developing a proto- rockabilly style, mixing rhythm & Blues and Country, she was picked up for RCA as a potential “Female Elvis” in 1956 and her sides, cut with the finest Nashville and New-York musicians, make her a living legend among the 50’s rockin’ buffs. She was the Drugstore Rock and Roll Queen challenging with Wanda Jackson and Brenda Lee.
Sunday Sept. 30th., interview on NPR with Rachel Martin on Weekend Edition talking about The Blanco Sessions and how Janis Martin and Rosie Flores met and recorded together !
Thanks for listening ! Rosie
Her first and only trip in Europe was in
April 1957 when she performed with Jim Reeves and a RCA country unit in
Germany for a USO tour. Part of the unit travelled in England and maybe
Janis bring here her raucous rendition of Fats Domino “I’m
Walkin’”. She didn't return again til 1982 when she performed
in Eindhoven in the Netherlands to celebrate her 42nd birthday.
Over the next twenty-five years she continued to make occasional appearances at festivals all ‘round Europe and USA. In 1994, Rosie Flores and Janis meets and the following years Janis agreed to sing on Rosie’s Rockabilly Filly CD. In 1998, they performed together in a club, The Tractor, located in Seattle. In 2006, Rosie moved back to Austin and began talking to Janis to record an album. After the sad passing of her only son in January 2007, Janis saw music as her salvation and thought the love of her fan will sustain her. That hard rockin’ Mama who liked the blues that got to rock agreed and the Blanco (Texas) session was done in two days in April 2007, at Bad Dog Studio, as a possible start of her return. It was not to be ‘cause she left the building on September 3, 2007.
Nobody knows it’s wanna be her last studio work , Janis being in a such fantastic mod working with the crop of Austin musicians. The gal who recorded being pregnant in 1957 could still did it in 2007 even if fighting against bad headaches. Being afraid to be sick, a couple of weeks later Janis was found with cancer. She knew this was the last record she ever going to make. That cute, little-girl voice on early records with Chat Atkins became very sexy, almost sounding like a black Lady. Rosie Flores spent four years shopping the album around to numerous record labels and finally ended with a Kickstarter project on June 2011. Beside Rosie, Bobby Trimble, Janis’ husband Wayne, musicians and studio owner, 332 backers believed in that record sending $ 15.000 from them own money to make it happen. Mastering was done in December 2011 and the work in the manufacturing plant started in June 2012. Janis Martin, up in rock and roll Heaven, may be proud to see all those fans and friends out there who love her voice, her spirit, her heart and her rock and roll soul. She can cuss but once you have meet her the friendship just grow up. She had a strong and charming personality. What about the music ?
The CD starts with a great rendition of “As Long As I’m Movin’”, a 1955’s Rhythm and Blues hit for Miss Rhythm Ruth Brown, and a long time favorite of Janis. The piano is played brightly by T Jarrod Bonta and the sax blowed by Darin Murphy on that strong wonder. Janis vocal is real close to Ruth like when both women played for the first time together on stage in 2006 in Long Beach (Ca). A beautiful moment. Nothing from the past here ‘cause Janis was not the kind to look back with nostalgia but a dynamic rocker that could win the younger crowd. On “Wham Bam Jam”, Janis follows the foot print of Ronnie Dawson who cut that incendiary rocker in 1994. Once more a great piano bridge with some nice guitar licks played by Dave Biller and premium vocal support from Kelly Willis. That’s muscular stuff, it rocks like hell.
Honey, you're such a freak. “Long White Cadillac” is another recent song being from 1983 borrowed from Dave Alvin and The Blasters. Lyrics found roots in Hank Williams’ last drive when he died sitting all alone on the back seat of its Cadillac. That tune, also recorded Dwight Yoakam in 1989, is a strong mover that could have been cut far earlier maybe ‘cause the great work done by Beau Sample on double bass. Janis delivery is solid and sincere. “Wild One (Real Wild Child)” is another 50’s choice but from Johnny O’Keefe/Jerry “Ivan”Allison repertoire. That song is probably more famous for the Jerry Lee Lewis’ version cut at Sun. Here Janis got Rosie Flores’ vocal support and these real wild child did great work together. The next song, even if written by Sun’s producer Jack Clement, is also associate with Jerry Lee Lewis.
That’s the classic “I’ll
Be Me” issued in 1957 as B-side for “Whole Lot Of Shakin Going
on”, Jerry Lee’s second release on the Memphis’ legendary
label. Here Janis gives no Mercy to you rockin’ the whole darn thing
since the start to the end. Great piano and steady beat from Bobby Trimble
on drums. If you see your CD player turning red hot, I’ll be her!
To change the mood follow “Sweet Dreams”, a country ballad
written by Don Gibson, sing with heart and class. That song was a hit
for Faron Young in 1956 and made the link with the great Patsy Cline,
another hard headed Mama who did what she liked as long as she was on
earth, who recorded that classic in 1963. Janis’ voice is crystal
pure and the musical support is just perfect. A song she had performed
in concert and that should have been a winner running in the country charts!
“Find Out What’s Happening” was first recorded in 1964
by the Spidells before being covered by Nancy Sinatra, Bobby Bare, Elvis
Presley or Tanya Tucker. Janis’ voice is strong with a fine vocal
The classic “Believe What You Say” was written by Johnny and Dorsey Burnette before coming to Ricky Nelson. It is one of the best song ever recorded by Ricky and here Janis take it at a fast pace with a solid pumping piano support. Dave Biller doesn’t duplicate James Burton’s work on guitar. It makes the whole thing fresh and sounding far from being just a cover. Next is “Roll Around Rockin’” written by Janis’ friend Billy Scott, member of The Prophets (also know as The Party Prophets), carries a lot of blues with Walter Daniels playing harmonica. Here is what Janis liked… a great rockin’ blues she brings to the session. “Oh Lonesome Me” , another Don Gibson’s all-time classic, is taken to a faster tempo with a solid beat. If Bill Haley and The Comets could rock the oldies, Janis sure could put high energy on country music.
A foot taping one for Honky-Tonkers looking for fun on Saturday night. The CD close with “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine”, a Bill Monroe’s classic song and a favorite of Janis by The Kentucky Headhunters’ version. Janis’ rendition is close to them work being a blend of Bluegrass and Blues with a beautiful vocal support from Kelly Willis and a tasty harmonica part played by Darin Murphy. It’s interesting to note than the Kentucky Headhunters also covered “Oh Lonesome Me”. If in my own opinion these guys can’t out run Janis’ on music, they sure could do on hairdo. Janis was not a woman of the past and just rocked her way from 1956 to 2007 with class and energy. She had a good ear and picked the right songs from the ballot bring to her by Bobby Trimble and Rosie Flores. She comes to rock in Blanco and she did it right. One thing can be taking for granted; she will never walk out of this heart of mine.
The CD will hit the stores on September 18, 2012. Be ready to enjoy the goods and gave full support if you not had did it yet. This is a powerful Cd that came with a little booklet with scan of photos from Janis scrap book. A gem that captures Janis’ love of life, fans and music.
Dominique "Imperial" Anglares - September 14, 2012