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Monthly Update

May 2020

Janis Ian News & The Better Times Project

Some strange visitors have been showing up

Some strange visitors have been showing up

Well. It's been an interesting few months, to say the least.

When I was much younger, someone told me there was a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." I remember thinking "How silly. I'd always want to live in interesting times!"

I'd give a lot to live in less interesting times right now.

I don't know how you're doing, but I've been going through more moods per day than I used to per month – and that includes my teenage years! Feeling lucky because my early tour ended March 11; miserable that all the other tour dates had to be re-booked. (See below.) Thrilled that without our interference, nature is rebounding; angry that it had to take this, and probably won't last. Confident we'll get through it; nervous because every time I step outside I can practically see the germs crawling toward me. Mostly, scared.

Yeah, if I'm truthful I'm mostly scared. I never thought something like this would happen in my lifetime, and it's frightening.

But mostly, I try not to be scared. Mostly, I try to be calm, and I think we should all pat ourselves on the back, because most of us are showing patience, and strength, we never knew we possessed. Despite the dozens of people who've emailed me to say this is a "Deep State Conspiracy to Take Away Our Guns", or "It's a giant hoax put up by the Rigelians to gain our help fight the Pleiadans", I really do believe human beings are essentially good. And, sane.

On tour with Livingston Taylor

Liv Taylor & I did some shows together
a few months ago

But enough about me! Let's talk about you... and my current project. The "Better Times Project" started the day after John Prine died. I'd been thinking a lot about the Great Depression, Woody Guthrie, folk music in general. So when a new song started running through my head as I was doing laundry, I let it run, poking at it now and then, but mostly letting my talent take the lead.

By the time I got around to the dryer, I had a complete chorus. I began wondering what kind of verse would go with it. Could I could start a song with the chorus instead of the verse? I started singing it to myself, trying it out on my tongue, hearing the chords in my head – and when that was done I raced upstairs, grabbed a notebook, and began to write. About 30 minutes later, much to my astonishment, I had a complete song. I pulled out my phone to record it, then realized I didn't know how to work the recording app! After a few false starts, I managed to get it working, and sung the song a capella, tapping out time on the table with my pen. It felt like a good song. It felt like a sing-able song.

It felt like other people could sing it – families, friends, choral groups, you name it. Then I started thinking about my fellow performers, who were watching their livelihoods go down the drain. All of us were also feeling useless. Normally, when things get bad, we're out there reassuring our audiences, telling people it's going to be okay. Not this time, though.

So I invited a few to record "Better Times Will Come", saying "Let's give people some hope, encourage them to sing it themselves, maybe a few will get to know your work, maybe buy a few CD's from you. Let me offer a free download, and let's see what happens." Because in my little world, whether you're a singer, or an illustrator attending conventions and book signings, merchandise sales often come to more than your fee!

John Gorka was first, with Don Dixon not far behind. The dancer Donna Russo, whose disease now keeps her wheelchair bound, danced to it from a seated position. Andrea Rosal did a wonderful take with her 10-year-old daughter on ukulele, and brought me to tears. Cliff Eberhardt & Louise Mosrie gave it the Guthrie spin, Frank Turner joined in, then Eric Bibb.

It mushroomed from there. "Personal versions" started showing up on Youtube. I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for diversity, and San Diego Women's Chorus sent a video in ASL (American Sign Language). I have friends who normally go to the office but are locked down with their children, so after hearing coloring books were sold out, I reached out to Sandra Boynton and Sue Coccia. Then, I hit up my cartoonist friends, and off we went with "Coloring Pages". A few days ago, Cheryl Wheeler sent me a version. Then an email from Steve Gadd showed up with him singing! At this point, I'm posting things every weekday, and still having trouble keeping up.

It's like nothing I've ever done before, and nothing I've ever experienced. My hope is that when you read this, you'll have a look at the page, maybe download a few versions, and make your own. You don't need to be a professional to sing or play – you just need heart. Throw it up on Youtube, have a good time. Why not?

Look, I don't know what the future holds, any more than you do. But I know this. Art will survive. And I know that art heals, so take this gift from my friends and me and enjoy it.

See you in better times,

Janis

Janis Ian

Brooks Arthur

Janis has been doing a lot of cooking!

The legal lines: “In the interest of safety at a time of uncertainty, as the world navigates how best to be safe during the current Coronavirus outbreak, 2020 Janis Ian dates have been rescheduled for 2021. Venues will honor current tickets and seating; we’ve worked very hard to keep the dates as close to the originals as possible. Please remember that the are also struggling to survive! If you can’t use your ticket, consider giving it to a friend if you can afford to do so. Remember, you can find all tour dates at Janis’ website and Facebook site. Thank you."

We’ll be adding a few more shows, but here are new dates for the ones that were already slated:

ALL DATES ARE 2021

August 5th - The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Center, Old Saybrook, CT
August 7th & 8th  - Shalin Liu, Rockport, MA
August 10th - Shea Theatre Arts Center, Turner Falls, MA
August 13th - Tin Pan, Richmond, VA
August 14th - The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
August 20th - Newton Theatre, Newton, NJ
August 22nd - Suffolk Theatre, Riverhead, NY
September 13th - Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA
   (Tickets will not be on sale until 2021)
September 14th - Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA
September 22nd & 24th - Mary Winspear Center, Sidney, BC

Brooks Arthur

I got to celebrate our friend Jean's 90th birthday just before the proverbial hit the fan.

Brooks Arthur

Wonderful Sally Fingerett sent us home-made masks.

Hot News
  • Join me for the "Better Times Project"

    My hope at first was to help my friends, but it's turned into a way of reminding people that you don't have to be a "professional" to make music. You just have to have a willing heart.

  • New Free Downloads

    A live-in-concert version of "At 17" is available for FREE DOWNLOAD at the Janis Ian Store. It's also available on YouTube. Feel free to share this information, and take advantage of all the other free downloads on my personal website!

  • In light of the present circumstance...

    In light of the present circumstance, I've decided to begin offering free downloads of things that would ordinarily cost. Check the free downloads page to see what's new.

[more hot news]

Tour Dates

click on any date for full information
click again to close that date

All tour dates updated on May 16, 2020

  • Sunday June 27 to Saturday July 3

    Swannanoa Gathering Fiddle Mando Banjo Week, Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Swannanoa Gathering Fiddle Mando Banjo Week

    Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Phone:

    Visit the venue's website

    For the first time, Janis will be giving her 5-day series "A Master Class In Artistry" during each of the Swannanoa Gathering weeks. The final week will also feature a second, more interactive class tentatively titled "War Stories". Time of classes is TBA; please check the  website for more information. The 5 day class covers everything from the origins of artists to physicalization, songwriting for profit and not so much, performance, the need to be brave, how to survive as an artist in the modern world, and why bother. Points are illustrated with songs and playing as she takes us on a journey that begins with the first caveman to tell a story and continues through the myth of the artist as "crazy", the need for silence, and why she believes "art saves". Drawing on her 55 years of experience in the entertainment industry and her ten years with Stella Adler, presented with humor and grace, brutally honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students. 

  • Sunday July 04 to Saturday July 10

    Swannanoa Gathering Traditional Song Week, Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Swannanoa Gathering Traditional Song Week

    Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Phone:

    Visit the venue's website

    For the first time, Janis will be giving her 5-day series "A Master Class In Artistry" during each of the Swannanoa Gathering weeks. Time of her classes is TBA; please check the  website for more information. The 5 day class covers everything from the origins of artists to physicalization, songwriting for profit and not so much, performance, the need to be brave, how to survive as an artist in the modern world, and why bother. Points are illustrated with songs and playing as she takes us on a journey that begins with the first caveman to tell a story and continues through the myth of the artist as "crazy", the need for silence, and why she believes "art saves". Drawing on her 55 years of experience in the entertainment industry and her ten years with Stella Adler, presented with humor and grace, brutally honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students. 

  • Sunday July 11 to Saturday July 17

    Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week, Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week

    Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Phone:

    Visit the venue's website

    For the first time, Janis will be giving her 5-day series "A Master Class In Artistry" during each of the Swannanoa Gathering weeks. Time of her classes is TBA; please check the  website for more information. The 5 day class covers everything from the origins of artists to physicalization, songwriting for profit and not so much, performance, the need to be brave, how to survive as an artist in the modern world, and why bother. Points are illustrated with songs and playing as she takes us on a journey that begins with the first caveman to tell a story and continues through the myth of the artist as "crazy", the need for silence, and why she believes "art saves". Drawing on her 55 years of experience in the entertainment industry and her ten years with Stella Adler, presented with humor and grace, brutally honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students. 

  • Sunday July 18 to Saturday July 24

    Swannanoa Gathering Old Time Week, Swannanoa, North Carolina,

    Swannanoa Gathering Old Time Week

    Swannanoa, North Carolina,

    Phone:

    Visit the venue's website

    For the first time, Janis will be giving her 5-day series "A Master Class In Artistry" during each of the Swannanoa Gathering weeks. Time of her classes is TBA; please check the  website for more information. The 5 day class covers everything from the origins of artists to physicalization, songwriting for profit and not so much, performance, the need to be brave, how to survive as an artist in the modern world, and why bother. Points are illustrated with songs and playing as she takes us on a journey that begins with the first caveman to tell a story and continues through the myth of the artist as "crazy", the need for silence, and why she believes "art saves". Drawing on her 55 years of experience in the entertainment industry and her ten years with Stella Adler, presented with humor and grace, brutally honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students. 

  • Sunday July 25 to Saturday July 31

    Swannanoa Gathering Cont. Folk & Guitar Week, Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Swannanoa Gathering Cont. Folk & Guitar Week

    Swannanoa, North Carolina, USA

    Phone: N/A

    Visit the venue's website

    For the first time, Janis will be giving her 5-day series "A Master Class In Artistry" during each of the Swannanoa Gathering weeks. Time of her classes is TBA; please check the  website for more information. The 5 day class covers everything from the origins of artists to physicalization, songwriting for profit and not so much, performance, the need to be brave, how to survive as an artist in the modern world, and why bother. Points are illustrated with songs and playing as she takes us on a journey that begins with the first caveman to tell a story and continues through the myth of the artist as "crazy", the need for silence, and why she believes "art saves". Drawing on her 55 years of experience in the entertainment industry and her ten years with Stella Adler, presented with humor and grace, brutally honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students. 

  • Thursday, August 5

    The Kate, Old Saybrook, CT

    The Kate

    Old Saybrook, CT

    Phone: (860) 510-0473

    Visit the venue's website

    Janis returns to The Kate a scant year later, at their insistence. She's sure it's too soon, they're sure it's not. She's writing furiously so she can present some new material, and looking forward to visiting one of her all-time favorite venues again! Expect some good, relaxed fun, some tears, an after-show appearance for signing things you've brought and things you may purchase at the "merch table"!!

  • August 6th

    Pearl Foundation private concert, , Massachusetts,

    Pearl Foundation private concert

    , Massachusetts,

    Phone:

    Visit the venue's website

    A private concert benefitting the Pearl Foundation.

  • Saturday, August 7

    Shalin Liu, Rockport, MA

    Shalin Liu

    Rockport, MA

    Phone: (978) 546-7391

    Visit the venue's website

    Janis has been hearing about Shalin Liu from friends for more than a decade, and it's taken this long to coordinate schedules so she could do two nights in this prestigious venue. Expect old songs, new songs, stories, and time afterward for hellos and signing whatever you bring or buy! Since she'll be there for two nights, things should get a bit more relaxed than usual - maybe an extra step out guitar solo, or an audience Q&A. Who knows?! We can promise that this ten-time-Grammy-nominee will put on a great show, with plenty of heart and soul. 8 pm show

  • Sunday, August 8

    Shalin Liu, Rockport, MA

    Shalin Liu

    Rockport, MA

    Phone: (978) 546-7391

    Visit the venue's website

    Janis has been hearing about Shalin Liu from friends for more than a decade, and it's taken this long to coordinate schedules so she could do two nights in this prestigious venue. Expect old songs, new songs, stories, and time afterward for hellos and signing whatever you bring or buy! Since she'll be there for two nights, things should get a bit more relaxed than usual - maybe an extra step out guitar solo, or an audience Q&A. Who knows?! We can promise that this ten-time-Grammy-nominee will put on a great show, with plenty of heart and soul. 8 pm start!

  • Tuesday, August 10

    Shea Theater, Turners Falls, MA

    Shea Theater

    Turners Falls, MA

    Phone: (413) 648-7432

    Visit the venue's website

    And the new venues just keep on coming! We're really excited that Janis will be playing this town-owned theater, a centerpiece of the Turner's Falls resurgence. Expect old songs, new songs, stories, and time afterward for hellos and signing whatever you bring or buy! * 8pm showtime

[full tour dates list]

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