ErrorSorry!This page is currently unavailable while we undergo routine maintenance.We apologize for any inconvenience. As a lightning bolt of illumination splits the sky, a thunderclap of enlightenment follows. Somewhere around 1999 or the early 2000s I went with a group of co-workers to an early show at the now-defunct, sorely-missed Manhattan nightclub, The Bottom Line. In an effort to pin down the exact date of the show, I checked the "Timelinea€? on the Bottom Line website that lists the performers for each show.
Although he couldna€™t answer my question (a€?There were so many appearances!a€?), he was eager to weigh in with his own recollections and praise. Later, her father graduated from Rutgers University and began teaching in the New Jersey public school system. At nine years old, Janis heard Odetta for the first time on a Harry Belafonte television show. In junior high, shea€™d go to Greenwich Village, meeting with others from camp, to stand around the fountain in Washington Square Park and sing. Her father subscribed to Broadside Magazine which published songs by people like Bob Dylan and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Her recording career got its rocket-propelled start after she wrote a€?Societya€™s Child (Baby, Ia€™ve Been Thinking)a€? based on her observation of an interracial couple. The psychological battering from pressure to constantly write, tour and record, and the disintegration of her family took its toll.
While we cannot be sure that poem was written exactly during that time, it seems to capture her frame of mind. She played a tough weeklong gig in California, but realized that the weather and atmosphere was what she needed. The album Stars (1974) was followed by her biggest success, Between the Lines (1975) which contained the song a€?At Seventeen,a€? another revealing tract that cut so deep, she was initially afraid to play it to audiences.
In 1982, feeling depleted, Janis walked away from a multi-million-dollar record deal with Columbia which had three more albums contracted. In 1986, her new publisher MCA suggested that Janis work with Nashville writers to improve the marketability of her songs. The years of being a workaholic caught up with her and she became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). As she finally regained the upper ground in her battle with CFS, Patricia Snyder came into her life, bringing her physical and emotional comfort. The initial album coming out of this period, Breaking Silence, would be her first in ten years. The book describes in detail the relationships Janis has had, over the years, with both men and women. Janis had been approached by the gay-oriented magazine, The Advocate to write a monthly column for them. After her moma€™s death, to honor her, Janis established Pearla€™s Foundation, a scholarship fund to help people in their efforts to seek higher education, Her mother had forged ahead and graduated from Goddard College, in spite of her illness, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Janisa€™s most recent albums, God and the FBI (2000), Billiea€™s Bones (2004) and Folk is the New Black (2006) show that her writing is still razor-sharp.
Those of us who have been fortunate to stand face to face with Janis will never forget the steady gaze behind which sits one of the formidable minds of our generation. I was shocked to discover how little I actually knew about Janis Ian.A  It wasna€™t until I picked up a copy of her autobiography, Societya€™s Child, that I understood the full depth of Janisa€™s connection to folk music. The FBI would shape her early life.A  Her family was already being scrutinized before she was born. The book describes in detail the relationships Janis has had, over the years, with both men and women.A  What was horrific about most of Janisa€™s earlier relationships was the amount of betrayal her partners displayed. It was around mid-August of 2009, and as an invited judge, I was listening to CDs submitted by artists vying for formal showcase slots at the November Northeast Folk Alliance convention. I had nearly completed assigning points to 90-plus artists at that point (it would swell to 105).
It was hard to switch away from their newest CD, The Day Everything Became Nothing, to listen to CDs by other artists to do reviews for the Acoustic Live December NERFA wrap-up issue. Demetrius was two years into his Nashville period, playing at the Broken Spoke, when Monica Rizzio wandered in with some of her friends. Throughout college, Laird continued playing in rock bands and extended his enjoyment of singing as part of an A Cappella group (hea€™d also sung in an A Cappella group in high school). After college, Laird taught junior high school for eight years -- Working in Foreign Service didna€™t pan out. Alex states flatly, a€?The band happened the night we played with Laird.a€? The day before the guitar was to arrive from Chicago, Dimitri and Alex were doing their mandolin duet at a place called the Island Merchant. Seeing Laird again, Demetrius re-introduced himself and jumped at the chance to play with him again. Although it would be difficult to imagine the group without any one member, its history seems to be the evolution of a sound long sought and organically grown by one Demetrius Becrelis. Lured by a bill that included Tom Paxton and Janis Ian, we knew we were in for an evening of top-notch folk music. She took center stage and began playing fingerstyle guitar with an almost impossibly pristine sound. I know that earlier in my life -- through my 20s possibly into my 50s, I viewed her as a pop artist with a social conscience.
A precocious toddler, Janis writes that her father used to say, a€?Janis started talking at seven months and never stopped.a€? At two-and-a-half years old, she persuaded her father, also a master music teacher, to give her piano lessons. The FBI would contact each school administration every two years when hea€™d be up for tenure.
With her fathera€™s guitar perched on her lap in the back of the family station wagon, she played it for them. Janis made a lead sheet like those in the magazine, added the melody, chords and lyrics, put her name and phone number on the page and submitted a€?Hair of Spun Gold.a€? Two months later, her father got a call from the editors. Janis took guitar lessons with the Reverend Gary Davis, and after the lessons morphed into social occasions, began hanging out with him. She played regularly after that, which got her noticed and led to a meeting with legendary producer a€?Shadowa€? Morton. Chapters dealing with their separation and divorce and Janisa€™s emotional upheaval are particularly sad. All the Seasons of Your Mind (1967) sold enough to make the national charts, but followup albums, The Secret Life of J.
Harrowing passages describe how a diligent psychotherapist there, Gerry Weiss, pulled her back from near death and personally nursed her back to health. It was provoked partly by a critic referring to her, still a teenager, as a a€?washed-up has-been.a€? It was also partly inspired when she heard Don McLeana€™s a€?Vincenta€? for the first time. She needed to get off the merry-go-round to explore other areas of life, to regenerate her resources. She had talent and wrote deep songs but Nashville writers had the craft to make them more commercial. After she declared her homosexuality, he stood by her and issued an authoritative warning to anyone who might give her trouble: a€?Dona€™t mess with hera€¦a€? He would bolster her confidence in her guitar playing, stressing her individuality. Tragically, her mother, Pearl, had become ill with Multiple Sclerosis and would decline over a 20-year span. She refused, saying a€?I dona€™t write prose,a€? but Pat and an editor provided the idea that Janis would poke holes in the stuffiness of its image and that concept sealed the deal.
Janisa€™s father owned every copy of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ever printed. Janisa€™s stint as a columnist for Performing Songwriter plumbed her depth of knowledge of the music business.
An initial auction of Janisa€™s own personal effects, held on the internet, brought in a total of $66,000. I also became aware of the route by which she developed her sense of social justice, and the emotional, physical and financial hurdles she has overcome.
Her father, then a chicken farmer, was inexplicably picked up by FBI agents after attending a meeting about the price of eggs. Her marriage to her husband descended into physical abuse, psychotic behavior and Janisa€™s near-murder at his hands. On the database page, after the column on the left with the artists' names and the scoring column, was a column for adding comments to share with the other judges. Ultimately, however, the other judges found others more worthy and Tripping Lily wound up as an alternate, barely missing a chance to play in the formals.


At the tricentric showcase, I made sure to get a front-row seat in order to get photographs. Demetrius Becrelis (the serious one), his brother Alex, and Monica Rizzio, backed by Laird Boles, were weaving their singular magic.
I hoped that enough people would see this blazing vortex of talent to ensure that their conference appearances (guerrilla showcases included) would bring in many new performance dates and a sizeable career boost. When Demetrius was just an infant, his grandmother looked into his mouth and, noting the shape of its interior, said, a€?Hea€™s going to be a good singer.a€? How right she was. Never wanting to be without his guitar, he brought it to school every day and played it every chance he got.
She was new in town and Demetrius offered to help her learn about clubs and songwriter circles.
Demetrius and Monica became a duo during her time at Belmont and they played around Nashville. Hea€™d drum on everything, thumping on a table with his bare hands if there was nothing else available. At the University of Virginia, where he attended college, he majored in International Relations and minored in teaching. Monica wanted a new violin and, after doing some research, came up with Martin Brunkalla a violin-maker in Chicago. People would ask them what type of music they were playing, so they could describe it to their friends. Alex describes the genetic edge the band enjoys: a€?When youa€™re working on original material, it can be difficult to get what you want from an accompanist, especially rhythmically. She was new in town and DemetriusA  offered to help her learn about clubs and songwriter circles. He sounded amused as he recounted the reactions of colleagues when they discovered how well Janis played guitar. My longest-standing memory was (and still is) the way I would get choked up listening to a€?At Seventeen,a€? especially during the ache-filled refrain, a€?a€¦who call to say, come dance with mea€¦a€? Ahh, yesa€¦ Ia€™d had my share of a€?wallflowera€? years and there were more than a few missed dances. It ended a year later because, at three, she was already getting into arguments with him over interpretations and fingering. In kindergarten she objected to learning her a€?ABCa€™sa€? because she already knew how to read.
Theya€™d see interracial and gay couples while being totally ignored by adults -- a completely opposite atmosphere from conservative New Jersey. She did one more album, Uncle Wonderful (1983) with an Australian publisher, then walked away from the music business. She discovered that her a€?accountanta€? (a bookkeeper without a proper CPA) had embezzled her money and falsely represented her income tax payments. She teamed with accomplished songwriter Kye Fleming both creatively and romantically and found some success and some brief happiness.
At the time of the printing of her autobiography, $300,000 had been raised.This preceded, but could have functioned as a road map for eBay.
Hunger (1997), completed after a difficult studio experience and filled with glittering gems from start to finish, has become a personal favorite of mine.
Janis has finally found happiness in a stable 20-year relationship, a testament to her resilience and intelligence. One of the very few Ia€™d written a comment for was Tripping Lily (theya€™d gotten perfect score of 10 from me). They were a shoo-in, though, to play in one of the semi-formal, or a€?Tricentrica€? showcases.
Before the first song, I noticed that the demeanor of one of the two male lead singers was deadly serious.
The nearest comparison to anything heard before would be Nickel Creek or Chris Thilea€™s solo work.
He watched Demetrius play guitar most of his life and also took in all the music that Demetrius was listening to.
She finished her 3-year stint at Belmont and, missing the East coast scene, went to back to New York.
He set up his own homemade set in the living room and would beat rhythms out with pots, pans, kettles and a basting brush.
His chorus director, also an art teacher, played cello.The teacher would demonstrate the structure of music by playing cello and by having students listen to recordings.
Alex was doing the singing and Demetrius could hear that he was adding something new to the music. She ordered a violin and when it arrived, ita€™s voicing was a€?differenta€? somehow and fit the groupa€™s music perfectly. Demetrius had met him long ago when he was a long-haired, 15-year-old heavy metal musician working in a restaurant kitchen where Laird was playing in a jazz duo with a pianist. Will you come and play with the group?a€? It took Laird a minute to recognize, in the close-cropped musician facing him, the long-haired youngster hea€™d met only once around 14 years ago. Monica, Alex, Demetrius and Laird moved to a private room to see what theya€™d sound like together. This sparked a surge of songs written for ukulele accompaniment in just over a montha€™s time. Then, Gary insisted that Janis open for him at a Gaslight Cafe gig and the owner reluctantly agreed after Gary threatened to walk out. Shadow disagreed with her a€?Baby, Ia€™ve Been Thinkinga€? title, so when her first record came out, it became a€?Societya€™s Child,a€? with the prior title in parentheses.
Although it brought a halt to her relationship with Peter, they remain friends to this day. The albums Aftertones (1975), Miracle Row (1978), Night Rains (1979), and Restless Eyes (1981) followed. Janis found it liberating to study in areas, such as ballet, where she had no innate ability.
She attended her first Worldcon, the largest gathering of science fiction writers and fans, at the prodding of two of her heroes in the genre, Mike Resnick and Anne McCaffrey. Her article on a€?The ABCs of being the Boss,a€? geared toward musicians, contains a wealth of helpful information for anyone in a supervisory capacity. The agents would hang around, always recognizable in their black suits and ties, even in the heat of August. The albums Aftertones (1975),A  Miracle Row (1978), Night Rains (1979), and Restless Eyes (1981) followed.
Less auspicious, the rooms are smaller than the formal showcase theater and compete simultaneously with two other nearby rooms also presenting artists.
He was physically wiry a€” whippet-like, and his face looked like that of a soldier readying himself for battle.
A heady mix of bluegrass, old-timey and pop music poured from Dimitrius on guitar and ukulele, Alex on mandolin, Monica on violin and ukulele and Laird on upright bass. He learned songs from CDs using a call and response method, singing lines back, immediately after they played. Entranced and drawn to it out of all the other sounds, he went in, took out his camera, and made a video of her performance. He became fascinated with mandolin after hearing Chris Thile play the opening to the ethereal song a€?Sweet Afton.a€? He went to the Gibson factory and watched them build acoustic instruments, specifically mandolins, for hours and finally had to buy one.
His parents finally bought him an abandoned trap set from a cousin and sent Laird and his drums to the basement.
As a teenager, an uncle had interested him in this genre, playing records by artists such as Errol Garner, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. Demetrius realized they needed more vocals and that something special might be possible so he persuaded Monica to come up from New York and join him and Alex. Typically bold, he and another band member walked out of the kitchen and asked to jam with Laird and the piano player. A listener, prodded to respond to his own question about style, said, a€?It seems like youa€™re tripping over styles. Laird liked her a lot and although he wanted to continue with lessons, he couldna€™t find a teacher he liked afterward. As a teenager, an uncle had interested him in this genre, playing records by artists such asA  Errol Garner, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck.
After her mom had a talk with the principal, Janis was allowed to read while the rest of the class did their drills.
She practiced, listening to all the records in her parentsa€™ collection, plus some borrowed from family members.


A huge success in Japan, she became an iconic star and was (and still is) treated like royalty there. She also studied acting under Stella Adler, who became a close friend and mentor until Stellaa€™s death in 1992.
An avaricious IRS agent appropriately named Granite seemed to take sadistic pleasure in erecting barriers to Janisa€™s attaining any kind of solvency, despite her complete cooperation.
After the relationship ended, although Kye, a Nashville native felt awkward, Janis felt that Nashville had become a€?home,a€? and decided to move there permanently. They pushed her to involve a number of other authors to contribute to Stars, a compilation book of short stories based on her songs.
Also available is the article Janis wrote for Performing Songwriter, on the free downloading phenomenon, a€?The Internet Debacle.a€? When she reported that downloading actually increased sales, not the opposite, as the record industry had charged, she was called a traitor. She practiced,A  listening to all the records in her parentsa€™ collection, plus some borrowed from family members. Peter became her love, her rock, an oasis inside of the whirlwind.A  On the music trail, she became friends with stars such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who tried to protect her from drugs, but the proximity led to some experimentation. When the first notes were struck and the harmony began rolling from the mouths of all three lead vocalists, the effect was totally opposite of that first visual impression. In mid-December, from NYC, I called up to Cape Cod where they live, for their respective stories. Fox plays a chord on an electric guitar and gets blown off his feet by a shock wave from an exploding amplifier.
When he learned guitar, he used the same method, playing the melody notes as each song played.
Then, at around 17 or 18, he decided to take a different path, away from the music and bands he played rock n roll with. Pushing past Martina€™s protests that he only made violins, Demetrius persuaded him to make a mandolin using the same wood as Monicaa€™s violin to achieve a similar sound. You start in one, then change to another.a€? The band combined that definition with the lily that was inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the headstock of all their Brunkalla instruments and they had their name. A local librarian helped Janis a€?retain her sanitya€? by allowing her to take out more books than the usual allotment and picked out more advanced works for her to read.
At the Village Gate, she played alongside some of her heroes (sitting between Tom Paxton and Len Chandler) and, after each song, she got a standing ovation. Although she still wrote, and had songs covered by others, she issued no recordings for around 10 years.
After sixteen years, the magazine has just ended its publication, but for eight years, Janis imparted her wisdom to the songwriter community. She started making some of her songs available as free downloads and watched her sales shoot up. After a year of this -- around 9 years old -- he decided to sing along with the guitar, so it was time to learn about chords. A James Taylor Greatest Hits album provided an introduction for the changeover to acoustic music.
They talked after the show and found that they had both arrived there the same week and were both from up North, each missing family and friends.
Music as a major interest didna€™t really hit until he began playing an acoustic guitar that Demetrius had left behind. During this time she played flute and a€?a little bit of piano.a€? She got a scholarship to study music at Adelphi University in New York. He suggested that Laird take over at bass.Believing that his experience as a bass singer was good preparation, Laird agreed to do it. Laird states that, thanks to the collaborating jazz musicians, he spent 11 years a€?learning the American Songbook.a€? At another point, while at a jazz gig in a restaurant accompanying a pianist, he met Dimitri (more on this shortly). I thought it was worth trying to stack their vocals.a€? The three started performing material from Demetrius a€?s and Monicaa€™s co-writing in Nashville. Afterward, Demetrius wished that he could play with Laird, but knew we wasna€™t ready at that point. One in particular, The Mid Atlantic Ukulele Festival, asked them to come down as headliners. In school, her fellow students at the High School for Performing Music and Art were respectful.
He moved around Nashville, expanding his circle of contacts and influences and catching Mindya€™s shows often.
He played steadily all through high school, having by then become a huge fan of country music. She studied there for two years and then decided that she needed something a bit different than what was offered at Adelphi. Monica stopped playing guitar at that point and focussed more on writing parts for the violin that shea€™d play. When all the instruments and voices kicked in, Demetrius was so thrilled to hear the sound hea€™d been imagining for so long become a reality, that he was swept up in it, carried along to the end. They quickly recorded a CD in their own living room and called it UkuLily.a€? As of today, it has completely sold out and is only available as a download. Wea€™re not related to Laird or Monica, but we have the same connection to them musically that we have to each other.
We sat there slack-jawed as Janis unleashed a barrage of guitar histrionics that crossed a line -- to borrow a phrase from Star Trek -- where no folkie has ever gone before.
Once a week, past her bedtime, shea€™d secretly listen to a folk show out of Newark at 10pm, a towel stuffed under the door to avoid being heard.
In the first tale, a€?Come Dance With Me,a€? Janis herself makes a thinly veiled appearance. Figuring out that a note two positions lower than the melody note was in harmony, he formed chords. He suddenly viewed reverb pedals, overdrive pedals, amplifiers, volume knobs and anything else digital as superfluous and wanted things to be completely analog.
She moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University (2000-2003) and completed her studies for graduation there.
When it was over, Monica said, a€? Demetriusa€¦ you sang!a€? A mental block had somehow lifted.
Jealous of her success, they penalized her for absences resulting from performing, even though she got good grades on tests. Janisa€™s own story, a€?Second Person Unmasked,a€? not unsurprisingly deals with a shifting sexuality and the issue of powerlessness. Never looking at a chord diagram, he built chords until they were three and four notes in structure.
He dug out the acoustic guitar and began listening to things more deeply, both for lyrics and the craft of singing.
When Demetrius came back from Nashville for a visit, and brought a mandolin, Alex was 16-17 years old. An ensuing interest in vocal excellence and a wholesome-ness of content led to an immersion in pop-tinged country.
Demetrius, perceiving that his guitar was now the only instrument out of sync, then boldly persuaded Martin to make a guitar for him using similar woods as the other two instruments, looking, sonically, for another perfect fit. Asked in a later interview if she had any regrets, she replied, a€?Not for an eighth of a second.a€? She always knew there was no place for a person like her in the American school system.
Demetrius got gigs in restaurants singing covers by artists like Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis. By the time Demetrius moved back for good, Alex was ready for some serious collaborating with his brother. California and has ordered her own Tenor Freedom Top Brunkalla Ukulele that should arrive sometime this year. Not only did Laird then grasp the nature of bluegrass; he also joined the band as its bass player. After a couple of years, feeling isolated in his musical choices, heA  decided to relocate. A big turning point came when he heard Alison Kraussa€™s award-winning first album with Union Station. He read the list of Nashville musicians in the liner notes and it pointed the way to Tennessee.



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Comments to «Songs about wanting to be back with your ex work»

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