April is the pearlest month day seven: The Pearl Sessions

The Pearl Sessions, released in 2012, is a compilation featuring alternate takes of the songs from Janis Joplin’s 1971 album Pearl plus conversations between Janis and producer Paul Rothchild.


I mined the audio trying to find something that felt Frye, some moment in the give-and-take as Paul and Janis crafted an era-defining sound, something that felt the same as, say, The Frye discussing the downfalls and/or rewards of joining every other southern Minnesota bar band in covering “Angel From Montgomery.” Nothing. There’s a lot of “this is the last time I’m doing this so don’t miss the f*king cue,” that kind of thing, and that’s not really how The Frye interacts.

Which, incidentally, makes for challenges with the upcoming performance of Joe’s one-act bar band operetta, The Best of Hank and Rita. Personally I’m not accustomed to talking into the mic between songs and I’m also not accustomed to slinging barbs his way. Fingers crossed, though, aided by a great script and songs plus the natural blessing of my own bitchy resting face, I’m hoping to pull it off. Stay tuned. Stay tuned to Joe’s site and Rural America Contemporary Art, in particular, for announcements and special invite-only invitations.

hank rita poster

But BACK TO MY PEARLS and Pearl. The album includes Janis’ only number-one single, “Me and Bobby McGee,” which The Frye gets asked to play pretty often. And why not. It’s a great tune and it feels as good to hear as it does to sing. The thing, though, is that I’ve gone down the road of singing “Me and Bobby McGee” in front of an audience, and as much as I sound exactly and I mean EXACTLY like Janis when I sing it in the privacy of my own laundry room or whatever, I don’t quite nail it in public. I know because I’ve listened to the game tapes, flinched, deleted. So, The Frye honors the request but we do it with Joe on lead while I give a nod to Janis’ inimitable style with harmony that’s hoarse enough to keep the purists from getting angry at us.

Similarly, here is a nod.


I don’t own a feather boa or an amazing tiny couch but I do have this fringe and the faux suede bell-bottom-sleeved thing that feels very Janis, especially if I were to put it on to sing alone in my laundry room. If.


And a sincere, if marginal, happy birthday to Joe.


Tomorrow: AWP in Minneapolis begins. Writerpearls!

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