We Are In Europe Now

17 October 2010]

Now I have Janis’ door at my house and have put several coats of gesso on it. I laid the guitar down there, so you can see the scale of this project. Paul Reed Smith gave me the guitar and Jim Granger gave me the door. Thank you and blessings to both of these people.

Annie Herrero, isn’t she beautiful?  If you want to know anything about art, Annie is at Riley’s Art Supply on Fourth Street, San Rafael, California, and she is a veritable fount of information, gently dispersed, complete and recondite. Annie is standing here in front of a painting that she began in Monte Castello (Umbria), Italy. See how she has incorporated depth into her work? I want to learn this lesson.

Big Brother at our studio in Mill Valley, California, 27 August 1987. We are practicing for our début at New George’s, San Rafael, which recently reopened (October 2010) by the way. Michel Bastien is the vocalist. There’s James Gurley, of blessed memory, on guitar.

Jo Qatana Adell, who hated my Freudians screwing in the light bulb joke. I stumbled when i was telling that one. You can’t stumble when you tell a joke. Comedians must be perfect at all times in their articulations. That’s the best school for enunication.

Dale Burckhardt and James Gurley.

This is what one eats on the road. Let’s see, rice cakes and butter. And some seedless grapes. Not bad. Probably in the upper 95th percentile of healthful eating while traveling. This is a hotel room in Bratislava, don’t ask me what country. It’s on the Danube. It’s to the east of Vienna, maybe thirty kilometers. Elise and I vistied the museum in Bratislava. I wanted to learn about bars in Bratislava since I love beer. It’s a great place with lots to offer.

Irving Penn took this photograph at the heliport in Sausalito, California. Double pyramid composition, Jerry and I at the top. Pigpen and Janis at roughly the same spot. James and Bob Weir. Peter and Bill Kreutzman, or whatever his other innocuous name is. Penn was a major photographer of the 20th Century, and it was an honor to be photographed by him.

Go to Dale Burkhardt’s Facebook page and read his comments about this photograph which he took. It’s worth it. This is Janis’ penetrating gaze of intelligence and it could be unsettling for people who thought she was a mere singer.

Clark is from Springfield, Illinois, and Jen is a Houstonian, but they are now both people from, ahem!, MARIN COUNTY, ladies and gentlemen. These people are as good and real as you could want.

Lauren and Judge Murphy. I played many gigs with Judge not so long ago. My prayers and positive thoughts are with Judge and with Lauren who has given a lot of her time and herself to Judge. Lauren has a clear intelligence and she is very sane.

Susan Zelinsky. I took a photograph of her when she was 18 or so. She said, “Hey, save that, for when I am famous.” One of these days, I will find that snap, because she was as cute then as she is now. Susan writes a lot of songs, and they are all good. She is now seeing to it that her band learn the forty songs or so in her little set. Can you tell I love her?

Annie Herrero’s painting of, I hope this is correct, her aunt and her grandfather. Annie has “excavated” this painting, meaning, that she has dug out some of the old paint as she goes and has substituted new hues. This technique represents to her the shedding of old layers and the taking on of new feelings and identities.

Elise’s beautiful photo of a building in Randers, Denmark. This was across the street from our hotel. It was just such a magical moment, late one night after a gig, and who better than Elise to capture it?

Across the street from the Aroma Café.

Anie Herrero’s first oil painting. I like the three dimensionality of the fish.

Elise on the Danube. Isn’t she darling? This is downstream from Vienna and the river is heading on its way to Bucharest and then on down to the Black Sea. This was taken on her *!?** birthday (some time ago she says). I posted a baby photo of Elise on the last thing I wrote, and you can see here that she has the same spirit of positiveness, loveliness and giving all that she had then.

Rozman on the left. My friend from Malaysia.This is a man who enjoys life.

This is Annie’s monochrome painting. The colors here are raw Umber and white. I am going to steal this idea, and do Big Brother in bed, a famous shot, with the same quiet treatment as Annie has done here.

I am thinking over how I am going to do this monochrome painting.

All right, for example, I just finished this painting of Ben Nieves. Is he going to like it? Is he going to think that it is too dark? Is he going to think it is too orange? Well, thank god, that I don’t charge any money for these things and would never dream of taking a commission. But, OK, I’ll admit it, I worry anyway. I did a painting, maybe a year ago, of Big Brother as Mount Rushmore, and I didn’t quite catch Ben in that one. so this was supposed to set that to rights.

Ann Angel’s new book about Janis! It’s a beautiful artefact, so well done, every page pleasing to the eye. Ann writes a sweet story, accurate and sympathetic, and you can see how much care the publishers at Abrams Books put into this.

Joe Healey, brother of Bo Healey. Joe is a European now. He has lived in Köln, now, for something like twenty years, and he has accomplished miracles there.

Yes, I might do a monochromatic painting based on this, to echo Annie Herrero’s very sedate interpretation of her living space. This was our living space. And, oh, yes, can’t you tell, we loved each other?

My friend Dario Da Rold looking at my anatomy book. Dario has a keen appreciation for the subleties of the human body. He’s Italian. Matter of fact, Dario comes from Belluno, a town that is very near to Vicenza, where we will play on 27 October 2010. I know Dario will be there in spirit.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company



10 October 2010

Etelka Garami took this one of Tom Finch and me in Petaluma.

Not sure what the idea was here. Lisa Law captured this moment.

Cathy Richardson and I singing Down On Me. Lilli Heart is becoming a fine photographer.

I wish we had done this with all of our albums. Here are our family and friends. In many cases, this is the only photograph we have of these people. Note that this was produced by “Roscoe,” a collective name for Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Roy Segel. I still see Roy’s son occasionally at Aroma Café. Mike Finnigan is here in these photographs. He did the best version of ever of You’ve Been Talkin’ ‘Bout Me, Baby. We still want to release that someday.

Peter getting his exercise.

Lori Helms, Chet’s wife. Chet and Lori and I were a kind of trinity in early Big Brother days. We were the ones who named Big Brother, for example. We used to sit around and talk about the band and where it could go. Lori loved the song These Boots Were Made For Walking by Nancy Sinatra. I used to think this was strange, but I now realize, with the benefit of hindsight, that the tune was a kind of anthem for women who often felt rather powerless in the 1960s. One of the great things about Janis Joplin was that she showed women a kind of strength in a positive way.

Lilli Heart, the woman who took many of these photographs.

Nine hundred nights, just about the length of time that we spent with Janis.

Maybe Jo Qatana Adell snapped this of Darby Gould, Cathy Richardson and a giantess who looked to me like Jennifer Garner.

We once considered Lynne Hughes as a singer for Big Brother and we once opened for The Charlatans. The Congress of Wonders was a comedy troupe. I remember The Final Solution and yet I don’t remember them too. This looks like a poster by Stanley Miller.

Lilli Heart is learning how to take those glittery black photographs that are so rich looking.

This place was about eighteen miles north of Salt Lake City. Blue Cheer was the loudest band we had heard up to that point. The world’s first metal band.

20 July 1968.

Now, this I have to paint someday. Peter and Nancy Parker.

Everyday I start my practice routine by playing along with James Brown at The Apollo 1963, and specifically his first hit, a ballad, I Wanna Be Around. Such a great tune. Bobby Byrd from North Carolina did that special scratch rhythm guitar behind James, so powerful and propelling.

Rosie McGee and Heather who worked for the Marin Music Museum until quite recently. Heather just moved from the Mission District in San Francisco where she often heard gunshots to Petaluma, California, the Egg Basket of the World, or so it used to be known as anyway. Quite a change.

Elise with her mom and dad, and some other attractive and happy Hawaiians. She’s the youngest person in the room and she’s already a sweet girl.

Marty Balin and I were in an art show together in 1965 or 1966. Marty started the Jefferson Airplane as a way of earning enough money to go to Venice and study painting, but he got sidetracked. So did I.

Hey, The Coo Coo. I played bass on that one which was a lot of fun. I like Light Is Faster Than Sound.

I love this photograph. What a glamorous couple. Donnie Baldwin and Cathy Richardson. Two of my favorite people.

Sam Houston (1793-1863) by Matthew Brady. Houston was a remarkable man for his time and place. He refused to swear allegiance to The Confederate States of America. He lived with the Cherokees for many years. He voted against the expansion of slavery into new states. He was the first President of Texas and a vehement opponent of Secession. These all make him practically a pinko Commie radical for that time.

Tommy Castro, a prince among men. Tommy often comes and talks to me while I paint at Aroma.

Wesley Freeman in a band on Okinawa during the 1960s. We are planning for both of our bands to go to Okinawa and some other places in Japan in 2011. I can’t wait to see the place again. It’s where I had my first love, my first band, and my first record.

Photograph by Kevin Beadles. I am almost finished with Spin of the Sun (Ben Nieves).

Ben Nieves shot this photograph of a poster in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

This is Janis Joplin’s door (4 feet by 7 feet and about three inches thick) to her house in Larkspur, California. I am going to do a painting on it this winter 2010. I am going to try to do a story of our life together in each of the fifteen panels. We’ll see.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Two benefits

2 October 2010

Two benefits this day, one in San Rafael for the school system, the other in Petaluma, California, for the “wrongly denied” quadriplegics and paraplegics and their families. We were very proud to have played for both eminently worthy causes.

We played a set in San Rafael at 6:00 in the evening, early so we could get up to Petaluma and play there later. Tommy Castro was our host for the evening at Andy’s Market out by the Loch Lomond yacht harbor.

Stefanie Keys did the singing for this one.

Dave Getz did the drumming.

Callie Watts who sang so well with Frobeck the band who followed us in San Rafael. Very good band, reminded me a bit of Tower of Power, excellent players, good arrangements, strong vocals.

The people you meet backstage at these affairs. My, my.

Peter Albin at an earlier benefit. I’m so glad we are doing a lot of these. That’s Bonnie Hofkin in the background. I am a groupie for medical illustrators, Bonnie, Stela Mandela, Phoebe Glockner. I love them all.

This is Shannon who wants to do Love, Janis. Tom Finch and I had a lot of fun driving around, and he really played well on both of these gigs.

Save water, shower with a friend. Cathy Richardson working on Combination of the Two. Cathy needed a shower. She was hot, hot, hot in Petaluma. On fire.

Lots of Toms and Tommys. Tommy Smothers, Tom Constanten and Tom Finch.

A giantess who reminds me of Jennifer Garner, lovely. Darby Gould, singer with the Starship. Cathy Richardson looking all glamorous. She was really very cute this night.

Dario Da Rold. He is trying to teach me how to look Italian.

We played in Millerton, New York, last week. This is the green room. This magnificent edifice was built in 1888.

A Pit Bull and a Shih Tzu.

Tara Degl’Innocenti, who is also trying to teach me how to look Italian.

Look closely at this one.

Elise Piliwale in the middle of Maui. The road is named after her family who lived here since long before the Kamehamehas. Piliwale is the name of an ancient noble family of Hawaiians who spawned very beautiful women.

I stole this photo from Theresa Izzo, who stole it from someone, who stole it from someone, and so on and so on.

Thank you to Tommy Castro who does such good work for the San Rafael school system. Go, Tommy.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company