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Janis Ian by the numbers

Janis

Janis Ian wrote her first song at twelve, published at thirteen, went Number One at fifteen, and was a has-been at sixteen. That’s the way she tells the story of her fifty years as a songwriter, activist, performer extraordinaire, guitarist and storyteller.

It should be no surprise, this many years down the road, that Janis Eddy Fink is a highly realized performer who captivates the audience in story and song. And there could be not better setting than the old oak ambience of Calgary’s Grace Presbyterian Church on Friday, March 26.

Janis’s kindness and confidence was evident as she set herself up for the self-deprecating jokes that sequenced from dialogue to song. It was easy to find the real Janis under her ”extremely tall blonde” disguise as she washed away any false images and shared songs that had real heart. And she is one of those underrated guitarists who can be a real treat to watch.

Janis Ian’s catalogue is far too extensive to cover all my favorites (she missed Stars) but she generously gave us Jesse, Will You Dance, and Light a Light and even a Ian-ized blues version of Love Me Do. The song that started it all, Society’s Child, was paired with a wonderful story of growth during the Civil Rights movement of the sixties. Seventeen closed the second set with all wanting the well deserved encore.

Janis is also supporting her autobiography, Society’s Child. Maybe that’s why the stories were so well-realized, and her natural rapport created pin-drop silence as she told the story of her mother. And OH!!!! how she tugged on those heartstrings.

In this day of instant idols and artists larger than their talent Ian gave a performance that held the attention of the room till the last bow. She generously invited her fans to download her free songs at janisian.com and stayed late to thank her fans after the show.

At the end there just wasn’t enough Janis – so I for one want some more the next time she returns.


Veteran DJ Tom Coxworth has been producing Folk Routes for CKUA from his Calgary home studio since 1998.

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