Tribute to Janis Joplin draws crowds

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by Quita Culpepper/Photojournalist Michael Moore/KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 6:31 PM

AUSTIN -- A new show in Austin is letting people get to know the music of Janis Joplin, the woman behind the mic, and her ties to the Capital City.

Her powerful gravely voice is unmistakable.

For the next few weeks, the legend of Janis Joplin comes to life on the Zach Theatre stage.

“She still lives today because her music is more popular now than it was then,” said Randy Johnson, the writer and director of the production, “One Night with Janis Joplin.”

The singer's family asked Johnson to create the tribute show.

“In reading the diaries and the letters I got an insight into Janis as a human that became the artist Janis Joplin,” Johnson said.

Joplin got her start in the Capital City, singing at places including Threadgills and the Soap Creek Saloon.

Johnson says he sees the emotional connection between the character of Janis onstage and the Austin audience.

“There's a special bond between Austin and Janis that's incredibly strong.  When she talks about Threadgills and other things in Austin the audience blows up,” Johnson said.

Actress Kacee Clanton was worried about performing as Joplin in front of an Austin audience.

“Janis was beyond her time vocally,” Clanton said. “At first I was a little, I thought oh, in her home it's going to be strange to do it for the first time but they're so warm and so connected to the character and her history.”

Clanton knew she was doing well after watching Joplin's brother Michael reacted to the show.

“To see Micheal's face, he was just jumping up and down and all smiles it, it... yeah it makes me a little misty,” Clanton said.

Before he finished writing the production, Johnson learned the day Joplin died, she was preparing to record a song called Rock My Way to heaven.

That 43-year-old unfinished song became the show's finale.

“So it came full circle in this production and I think that's one of the coolest things about this production,” Johnson said.

One Night with Janis Joplin runs through August 18th at the Zach Theatre.  After Austin the show will stop in Santa Fe, and will also head to Broadway.

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