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  • Janis Ian with Judy Collins & Leonard Cohen - photo by Peter Cunningham
Monthly Update

September 5, 2014

Janis and Gracie Mae bonding

Janis and Gracie Mae bonding

Pat: OW! What are you doing?!

Janis: <panting> I dreamed I was suffocating!! I had to fight my way to consciousness with karate chops! And I don't even know karate...

Pat: You were thrashing around so much that you smacked me!

Janis: I was suffocating. There was this heavy feeling, like a giant hand pressing down -

Pat: That would be your dog, who was sleeping on your chest.... Why can't you have a job like normal people, with an alarm clock that goes off at regular times?

Janis: <offended> I do have a job like regular people. I'm a writer.

Pat: Are you writing today?

Janis: Yes of course I'm writing! I'm writing every day! When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing!!

Pat: That would be the deep thought process that takes place while you're playing computer solitaire?

Janis: <mumbling> There's a lot of evidence that you have to distract the conscious mind in order to let the creative mind flow.

Pat: Uh huh...

Janis and Tommy Emmanuel by Sukumar Balachandran

Janis & Tommy Emmanuel - photo Sukumar Balachandran

Actually, I've been trying to do everything at once, and it's not working very well. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that what I could accomplish at 23, I can not accomplish at 63.

Naps, for instance. I never liked naps. I always thought they were a waste of time. Now I realize that without a nap, I myself rapidly become a waste of time.

Scheduling. This week I need to put together a syllabus for the Stella Adler School master classes, sort out upcoming tour dates, learn some new songs for my shows, arrange the guitar parts, get copies of The Singer & the Song to NARAS members I know, find someone new to mow the lawn, learn to work a new FTP program, pack for New York, and attend a barbecue with Tommy Emmanuel, who absolutely saved me during the Philadelphia Folk Festival because I had bronchitis so bad I can't even remember the show I did.

Pat's birthday Godzilla cake

Pat's birthday Godzilla cake

Twenty years ago, getting all of this done would have been a piece of cake, but I just can't work as hard, or as long, as I used to. In fact, this has been a year of acknowledging that I am no longer 23, or even 43. Regardless of what my mind tells me, I find myself rising slowly, giving myself a few seconds so my brain can tell my legs we're upright.

For all the wonderful things age is bringing - perspective, both on the past and the present... gratitude, because I know how bad it could be... depth, of a different kind than I had in my youth... and the knowledge that fear is usually my own creation, not the outside world's - for all of that, there are an awful lot of down sides.

I can't run with my dog until we both drop from exhaustion. I can't do two shows a night. I can't mow the lawn myself, or buy the biggest size at Costco because it's three cents cheaper but weighs 40 pounds.

Most of all, I can't pretend I'm young. And sometimes that hurts! In my mind's eye, I am young! Full of boundless energy and optimism. Skinny. If I put on a few pounds, I can take them off in a few days. I can play three shows a night at the Main Point for a full week, hang with friends before and after, then wake up early, feeling fine.

Oh, I miss those days...

What don't I miss? My lack of patience. I always felt like something was gaining on me, and if I didn't move fast enough, I'd never accomplish anything with my life.

My lack of grace. The South has taught me that manners truly are morals. Waving to thank someone for not running over me, acknowledging a checkout person, all keep me part of the community. Being nice to strangers reminds me that this world is oiled by kindness.

My rush to judgment. I used to see the world in black and white, and I damned well knew what was right and what was wrong. Now, there's more grey in the picture, and I'm not so certain any more.

I'm being forced to realize that there will always be a zillion things I want to do, and I'll just get to a tiny percentage of them. I don't beat myself up over that any longer. In fact, I barely beat myself up over anything, any more.

Perhaps the wisdom of your elder years is that you can afford, once in a while, to let things slide. To take a deep breath, look up from your work, and notice that among the flowers you haven't pruned, there's a baby rabbit trying its best to fit the entire garden in its mouth. And to accept that often, what masquerades as laziness is just the intelligence to know that not pruning those flowers has provided a very good meal for one tiny being.

Well. Deep thoughts. In the meanwhile, here are some of what's going on!

- The Pearl Foundation received its first bequest, of $10,000, from someone none of us even knew! With the economy the way it is, living room concert requests have been down, so I'm even more grateful to people who contribute, allowing us to have given away three quarters of a million dollars in scholarships to date!

- Offering fans the chance to order custom sheet music for their favorite songs, in return for a Pearl Foundation donation, has brought us four new transcriptions, with acknowledgment to the person whose donation made it possible at the bottom of each.

- We've got a few new "lyrics with chords" as well, and lyric sheets for two of the new songs on Strictly Solo, "I'm Still Standing" and "A Candle For the Flame."

- The Singer and the Song has been submitted to NARAS for Grammy consideration. You can download some of the songs, see portions of the "script", and read all about it on my site.

- We are not holding a "Christmas" sale this year, because I really do need some time off. However, we will be holding a January White Sale, featuring a few new items and autographing if you like! To be notified of the sale, please make sure you're either on my RSS feed, Facebook page, or email list!!

I'm still trying to figure out how to fund projects independently - and since I usually have half a dozen in the works at any time, doing a single project with Kickstarter or Gofundme et al doesn't make sense. So if you're part of the 1% <grin>, or in the market for a one-of-a-kind great guitar, check out the instruments I'm selling. The money is currently going to fund the Patience & Sarah audio book (co-narrated by Jean Smart!). If all goes well, I'll move on to manufacturing Strictly Solo (currently available only at shows) for the January White Sale, and editing/ mastering my narration of Mike Resnick's Kirinyaga.

Gracie Mae & fish by Nicole Campbell

Gracie Mae & fish - photo Nicole Campbell

Gracie Mae, a/k/a The Tiny Alien Dog, turned two recently and was given an orange rubber fish to celebrate. It's remarkable how much calmer she is now - at least, until she manages to catch the fish!

We spent a glorious week at Boothbay Harbor, Maine... Inspired by that, Pat and I are intending to take a month next year and drive up and down the East Coast, looking at towns by the water. We both love the ocean, and Nashville being seven hours from the nearest wave, we're wondering whether we couldn't downsize, then spend part of the year looking at the sea, instead of a sea of traffic.

Boothbay Harbor

Boothbay Harbor

I just looked at my tour dates, and realized there are a lot more of them than I'd thought!! I'm going to get off the computer now and go practice my guitar parts...

Hoping you are the same!

Janis Ian

Janis

Hot News
  • Annual Website Sale

    We're backlogged with stock that was ordered for 2020 touring (ouch), so we're holding a huge website sale with absurdly low prices in order to move it out! Personalized signing is available for up to three items. Please read the shipping information page before ordering and make sure to put any personalization request in the notes section – Paypal doesn't send us your comments if that's how you pay!

  • IRS Grants Full Public Status To The Pearl Foundation

    As some of you know, the Pearl Foundation began as a "private charity" because it was endowed solely by Janis and her wife Pat. As more people like yourselves contributed, we were able to apply for full public status. We began the process as soon as legally possible, and after years of rigorous oversight and specialized tax consultants (paid for by Janis), we have been granted full public status!

  • The Better Times Project has a new, dedicated website!

    The Better Times Project has a new home. When this project first started, back in April, there were just a handful of artists contributing. Now there are almost 150. As the project began to grow the decision was made to create a new website for everything. We hope you like the new home. You can listen to all of the different versions of "Better Times Will Come" and watch all the videos. You can also download the songs, sheet music, lyrics, coloring pages and more. Visit the new site and let us know what you think.

[more hot news]

Tour Dates

click on any date for full information
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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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