People I Love

5 December 2010

Janis looking truly happy.

Dick E. Betts in B minor.

This is a Hittite image, 3,300 years old. That looks like an electric guitar. It has frets, a head and the shape is not at all unusual to us.


Charlie Watts, what are you looking at?

Mademoiselle Marie-Brigitte Davies à la Parisienne.

Chad Quist, Hawaii 2004

He’s got a strap there. He’s just not using it.

I love her.

Eric Massimino and Joel Hoekstra, Ko Samui, Thailand, 2006.

Bonnie Bramlett once came THIS close to singing with Big Brother.

James Gurley

Elizabeth I gave this gittern to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Chloé Lowery and Elise Piliwale, Hawaii, 2006.

A favorite bookstore, like Powells’ in Portland or Cody’s in Berkeley. RIP.

The always adorable Sophia Ramos.

Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful, Monterey. I see a few other friends there.

So now the harp has a sound box and it is called a lyre.

I love these people, Elise’s relatives, Hawaii.

When Elise plays that harp, the sound affects me very deeply.

The winsome Cathy Richardson.

Ed Earley, tromboniste extraordinaire.

The Arabs called it al oud. In Europe it became the lute. Name is the same.

Intersection on Maui.

Clark Walker brought all these beautiful images home from Europe. This is Janus, the two headed deity of doors, the god of beginnings (January).

Kathi McDonald did the best version ever of Black Widow Spider. Kathi was with us during one of our best times, and she sang so well.

Feels like New Orleans. I love these guys. They went with James Brown for a while. Real players.

Al Oud. The wood. Such a beautiful instrument, often played with an eagle quill. The great oud players will often sound very flamenco like. Guess why?

This was painted on a wall in Hawaii. Murals are everywhere  on the Big Island.

In Golden Gate Park, I still have my original tremolo activator on that guitar, so this is long ago. Hey, James has his too. So this is before we souped up the Gibsons. Such great guitars.

This photograph takes me, in a real Twilight Zone manner, right back into 1965. I am there, figuring out what the best next step to take.

Frank Zappa was a good man. I like this photograph because it shows the intellect behind the Zappaness.

One of the stages from the Hittite instrument of 3,300 years ago to the guitar of today. These are vihuelas, stretched strings over a sound box. The vihuela and the gittern can be seen as great uncles of the guitar.

Dayton, Nevada. Close to Virginia City and Carson City and Reno.

This is the way Salvador Dalì looked in the 1980s when I met him at a club called The Scene and talked to him on several subsequent evenings. Tiny Tim came to The Scene with his ukulele in a paper sack and Jimi Hendrix was ofen on the same bill! Dalì was mellow, and he took everything in with a wry smile. The Scene disappeared when some colorful guys decided to break everything up in the place in one night, right after closing. It was so surreal, that I wasn’t even frightened. The Scene must have owed them money. Hey, whaddya want? So Big Apple, right?

Monterey Pop, shot between the legs of the players.

George Conger, Ritchie Olson, George Hunter. They were heroes to us.

Special person, so much talent, and knows how to express it so clearly.

Peter and Karen, Hawaii.

George Conger. Good friend, capturer of many of these images.

Sam, Ben and Torontonians, October, 2010.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Hear about the guitarist who played in tune? Neither did I.

The first two people to be shown in bed together on prime time television were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Things You Would Never Know Without The Movies:

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

If a young man at the age of twenty-three can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder.”

– Walter Damrosch on Aaron Copland

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, ‘You’ve been brought here for drinking. ‘

The drunk says ‘Okay, let’s get started.’

Mr. Burns: “How were his test scores?”

College Rep: “Let’s just say this:  he spelled ‘Yale’ with a six.”

A Peter Albin joke:

We used to take acid, now we take antacid.

I want to be cremated, and I want my agent to have ten, er, fifteen per cent of my ashes. Exclusively. It’s in the contract. (Watch him save this.)

Sarah Palin: Juneau if she’s going to run?  Alaska.

Actual courtroom conversation:

Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

A: Oral.

Q: What is your date of birth?

A: July 15th.

Q: What year?

A: Every year.

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a


A: No.

Q: Did you check for blood pressure?

A: No.

Q: Did you check for breathing?

A: No.

Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you

began the autopsy?

A: No.

Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?

A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and

practicing law somewhere.

How many buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?

One to change it, and one not to change it.

Did you hear about the man with the Catholic father and the Jewish mother?

When he went to confession he brought along his lawyer.

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t

control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup

to repeat the words, “Give me all your money or I’ll shoot,” the man shouted,

“That’s not what I  said!”

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” – Jim Carrey

What happened when the flasher decided to retire?

He decided to stick it out for one more year.

A Goy Joke:

“You own your own business, don’t you? How’s it doing?”

The goy says, “Just great! Thanks for asking!”

Major Reno rode up to Colonel Custer on the eve of the Little Big Horn massacre and said, “Colonel, there’s evidence of a large number of Indians over the ridge.  I don’t like the sound of those drums.”

From over the ridge came a loud cry, “We just hired a better drummer.”

Homer Simpson, whom I actually met in Austria, made this toast:

To alcohol The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems!

A Jewish woman hired a private detective to watch her husband.

She wanted to know what his mistress saw in him.

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, monsieur, but we’re out of cream.  How about with no milk?”

Oedipus, schmoedipus, as long as he loves his mother.

Subtitle in a Kung Fu film:

Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together

and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feats on some

giant lizard person.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

What’s the latest crime wave in New York City?

Drive-by trombone solos.

Anything War can do, Peace can do better.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake

that, you’ve got it made.

-Groucho Marx

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.


Don’t imagine you can change a man. Unless he’s in diapers.

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

(This goes for so many other things in life as well.)

A drummer, tired of being ridiculed by his peers, decides to learn how to play some “real” musical instruments. He goes to a music store, walks in, approaches the store clerk, and says “I’ll take that red trumpet over there and that accordian.”

The store clerk looks at him a bit funny, and replies “OK, you can have the fire extinguisher but the radiator’s got to stay”.

How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

Did you hear about the musician who won the lottery?

He played gigs until the money ran out.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

War is expensive, Peace is priceless.

One evening, watching her neighborhood from her front  porch, a wife pointed out one young couple on their street to her husband. “Do you see that couple? They are so devoted. He kisses her every time they meet. Why don’t you do that?”

“I would love to,” replied the husband, “but I don’t know her well enough.”

I was dating this woman for a while and the first time she saw me naked, she said, “Is everything a joke with you?”

Q. What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, laser

printers and White-Out all have in common?

A. All invented by women. The last one was invented by Mike Nesmith’s mother.

If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.

– George Bernard Shaw

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Muses and Paintings

21 November 2010

The Muses were the daughters of Mnemosyne (Memory).

Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. Homer and Virgil appealed to her for her help in writing the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid. Clio is the muse of history. She is often depicted with a volume, a lyre, a cithara, a lute or a guitar, so we in Big Brother love Clio. Euterpe is the muse of lyric poetry and she often carries an aulos or a flute.

Melpomene is the muse of tragedy. Terpsichore (choral songs and dance),

Erato (her name comes from Eros) is the muse of love poetry, and so we songwriters honor her. Polyhymnia protects the hymnist, the religious song maker. Urania is the muse of the study of heaven, astronomy and astrology.

Thalia is the muse of comedy. She oten carries a comic mask.

Now the Muses are preparing for a ritual.

This is Brice Marden’s version of The Muses. Brice Marden who befriended me once when it counted, he and his wife Helen.

Mousa in Greek means a song or poem, so the Muses are all about the sung word, the spoken word. There are no muses for the plastic arts, painting and sculpture. I have had to dream my own set of Muses with their Muse names, not their human names. Alexandra Aschmann, for example, is a Muse of sanity and reason.

Alexandra exhorted me to paint ¡Escógeme!

Aline Aigner is a droll, merry woman. She looks like a piece of Coptic Art.

Aline gave me the happy thought to do this oil on panel.

Bärbel Brandl’s coloring and her attitude are very engaging.

I was imitating Bärbel’s “color” in this painting All of Us.

Beate Baier is always inspirational. Highly intelligent and amusing, she is one of the most creative goddesses I know.

Beate persuaded me to paint my ancestors at a party.

Carina Così (Lovely Thus, this is her Muse name, not her human name) is a great artist, warm, witty and alive.

Carina asked me to do a portrait of her sister, Andressa.

Cybille Copp is very bright and she is a visionary.

So, when Cybille asked me to do a canvas about where i paint everyday, I took some time and tried to paint everything in the room.

Danie Depner wanted to see what the people in Aroma Café looked like.

So I did this painting to show her.

Daniela Dietz, her Muse name, not her human name, remember, wanted me to do an honest self portrait in oil.

It has always been difficult for me to ignore a request from Daniela.

Elisabeth Eisen also has a keen sense of humor. Her name Elisabeth means “house of God,” and Eisen means “iron.” She has been an inspiration to me since I have known her. Her own paintings are accomplished and interesting. I love them and I love her.

Elisabeth, my favorite Muse, asked me to paint the early Big Brother in oil.

Eva-Maria Ernst is all about the power of music.

Eva-Maria inspired me to paint Peter dancing with Dave as I played.

Florine Fabrizius, this Muse’s name, loves Caravaggio, whom she inspired when he was alive.

I have always admired Caravaggio’s circular composition, and, to learn it truly, I copied it and put Elise and me in there.

I did this portrait of Elise because Franziska Föttinger made me do it.

I toned a canvas and used a piece of charcoal to draw this beautiful woman.

Gabrielle Gagi, her Muse name, not her human name, paints beautiful canvases in a very individual style that is so satisfying. I love her work.

Gabrielle moved me to do this oil of Elise and me

Giselle Günsel is elegant, chic.

Then why would Giselle, the Muse, give me the idea to do this version of these five musicians? She obviously has a taste for the singular.

Hannah Hass has so much discernment and perception for one of her tender years. She pointed out to me the essential character of each of us in Big Brother.

“Now,” she said, “let’s have you interpret this in a vivid manner.”

Hanni Reinmuth who is a divine and almost incorporeal Muse inspired me to do a portrait of Zwanda with musicians in her heart.

This was a work of love, since Zwanda has been my model for years.

Happy Holzinger is a Muse daughter of Clio and she loves the singing of Vera Thomas who performs in Las Vegas.

“Draw me an image of Vera,” Happy ordered, “and make it look like her.”

Henriette Heißbauer is this Muse’s name and she has a pointed intelligence and a keen analytical mind. Henriette induced me to portray Big Brother as Mount Rushmore. Maybe she had just seen North By Northwest.

So, I chose this round panel and painted the version of the band that includes Sophia Ramos and Ben Nieves. Did the artful Henriette encourage me to limn Peter Albin as he was in the 1960s? Hmmmm, I  must take this up with her.

This Muse is Ilse Ismaili and she is a fey sprite indeed.

Ilse likes Hieronymous Bosch and she knows I live in San Geronimo, which is Spanish for Saint Hieronymous, so she urged me to put Elise and me into a Bosch type painting.

Jana Juritsch in Aroma Café. I don’t know her human name.

Jana spurred me on to do this loving couple in oil on a panel.

Katrin König is such a good artist. She knows her materials and techniques and she is the real thing, a great painter. So I listen closely to any suggestion she has.

Katrin said, “Why not put The Virgin of Guadalupe in a painting you’re doing? She has been the Mexican Muse and inspiration since she was an Aztec princess.”

Kerstin Klemp is a novelty seekinng and mischievous Muse, easily bored.

Kerstin said, “You paint all these portraits and you never do anything remotely abstract or design conscious, as, for example, Brice Marden does.”

Here i just went straight to the point and did a painting of Lena Lachner, just to see what this particular Muse of Painting would have to say.

“You have depicted me well enough,” she noted, “I like the movement, and the overall conception.”

Lindii Loidl has a public face. She enjoys life. Then there is her private self. Lindii is an altrovert, inner and outer directed, balanced.

Lindii said to me, “Paint my public self and my private self at the same time?” I will title this work Tatemae Honne, which means ‘Façade and Real Sound’ in Japanese. The inner person and the outer, political persona that we all have.

Manuela Mössenböck just told me about her voyage on a flying trapeze, where she had to trust someone completely when that someone said, “Let go!”

Nadine Naß  marveled at Manuela, and said, “Paint her brain at the moment she is saying, ‘Yes, I will fly with you and trust you to give me direction at the most crucial moment.’ “

Miriam Mülders, my unlikely Muse of metallurgy, said, “Why not do a painting of Elise in her welding gear?”

Elise has always had a fascination with heavy metal.

Olga Ortner began thinking of the local Muses in San Rafael, California.

“Paint them,” she asked, “they are your native deities.”

“OK, Apollo,” Petra Prentner cracked, “paint yourself, your inner self.”

“You mean sketch all that confusion, that doubt, that self questioning,” I answered, “I’m not sure I’m up to that.”

Raphaela Raubal pointed out that I had already painted Zwanda many times.

“Why not portray her again and her ex boyfriend Musa? Such a great name, Musa, do a painting of the two of them, and then put in some of Zwanda’s artwork.”

“Here’s an idea,” says Birgit Braun. “Do a drawing of one of us Muses. Adriana, for example.”

Birgit is an exceptional Muse. She looks a bit like the Muse Thalia here. I did the drawing of Adriana with a Conté crayon and wrote some Japanese.

Giesele Gräshafter is an imaginative, scintillating Muse, and she urges me to do the unparalleled and unprecedented.

I tried to capture Giesele’s mood and élan here.

Monika Mayerhofer is serene, tranquil and she has a self possession that is very attractive. Monika is her Muse name.

I did this drawing in colored pencil to capture how placid Monika was.

Natasche Nerstheimer, sweet, lovely Muse.

I tried to portray Natasche’s sister in sanguine.

Sabrina Schönleitner is an avatar of Terpsichore and she wanted a quick, gesture drawing of dancers.

I hope Sabrina will like this, because I dashed it off very rapidly.

Samira Spießberger is a practical Muse, so I asked her a very concrete question. “Which one of you inspired him to write that book? Was it Clio?”

“Do me a drawing of him,” she replied, “and I might tell you.”

Saskia Schadt is a Muse of sculpture and she helped me plan a work.

To please Saskia, I did these sketches of Deborah on roofing paper.

Thalia Tillman is a Muse of comedy, but she is so lovely that it rather undercuts her humor at times.

Thalia gave me the incentive to complete this image of Janis Joplin.

“Come on,” do something a little unusual, “ declares Theresa Thallhammer. “I’m tired of everything so sweet and orthodox.”

“OK, OK,” I said, “I’ll do me as I really am.”

Ursula Unterberger likes the work of Edvard Munch, and, in fact, she inspired him to do his most famous work, The Scream.

Thus, I thought I would do a modern scream, or maybe it’s just Peter, Dave and Sam singing.

Valbona Pfeil tells me to do a painting in the style of Lucian Freud.

“Show a little boldness and daring. Do it!”

The comely and graceful Viktoria Veit has a yen for skulls. Who knew?

“Viktoria, will you accept this, oh, divine Muse?”

Wilhelmina Weiße is an odd name for this dark angel Muse, but, remember, for all of these deities, I am not using their human names, but only their Muse names.

Wilhelmina caused me to paint Meagan McCauley, who is an excellent singer and a beauteous human being.

Xenia Xiphos has inspired me in so many ways for years. Her art is beyond excellent and she is a person of probity and value.

“Draw a hand,” Xenia directed, “just a hand, nothing more.”

Yana Young, delicate, refined, a well favored Muse.

“Do a pencil sketch of you and Peter and Dave.”

Zandra Zeke, the gamin Muse, nomadic seraph of the streets. She murmurs, “Draft for me a naked woman, sculptural, sepulchral, well constructed.”

Thank you, Zandra, and thank all of you Muses for your help over the years.

And thank you too, to Max Clarke, who took many of these photographs.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.

14 November 2010

Steve Brown took this lovely photograph of Janis.

I could have met Stela Mandel at this engagement, but, no….

The very lively Cathy Richardson.

Marin: Lizards in the summer, Salamanders when it gets cooler.

Elise au naturel.

Janis at her house in Larkspur. She was once the pool champion of Avenue D.

If Tom Cruise lived in East Texas, he might look like this.

Basic human decency, rock and roll version.

Two and a half years old.

Elise when she was modeling. Sarasota, Florida. 1980s.

Mary Bridget Davies. Very intelligent, smart as can be. Funny. Strong.

Kate Russo and Peter Albin in Koh Samui, Thailand.

My sister Lillian and my father.

See? I told you she knew how to play flügelhorn.

Janis had an angular, jabbing kind of writing style. Sharp as she was.

Moondog, serious classical composer, author of All Is Loneliness.

Tom Finch and Tara Coyote. Glamorous and amorous.

Nick Gravenites, a very happy unidentified woman, and John Cipollina.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone, Italian style. Good photograph.

We learned Ball and Chain from this woman.

Elise took this dawn photograph of the Wörthersee in southern Austria.

Tim Braun and Woo Salazar in the Kansas City, Missouri, Love, Janis.

278 West 11th Street, NYC. I lived in the West Village for almost ten years.

McNear’s Beach, I think. Janis, Peter, Dave, Sam. Total madhouse.

One of the many appropriations of Robert Crumb’s great idea.

We played with Steve at The Shoreline Amphitheatre a couple of years ago.

Karen Lyberger, glassical scholar, Hawaii.

Merl Saunders, Barry Melton, Norton Buffalo, shot by Don Aters.

The Hummingbird that Janis first played Bobby McGee on. Beautiful guitar.

I remember these vehicles.

Joan, Karen, Elise, Hawaii.

This was quite a gig.

Big Brother in Kyoto. Tom Finch, Duffy Bishop. 1996?

Just another night backstage.

Shanghai Elise.

In this manicured England, we were at the Bein Inn. Not like a Be In.

The top of San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf. Aquatic Park. The Marina.

Aspects of Elise. 1980s.

Max Clarke, peripheralist, photographer extraordinaire.

Carla, Elise’s mother, and Edd came to Scotland when we played there.

Almost two.

Dave Getz, Hawaii.

Regensburg, Germany 2003.

Kathi McDonald and Bob Mosely.

The Pik Ass Playroom.

White Plains, New York.

With my brother Dan in Austin. 1980s.

I wonder how many times I’ve played Piece of My Heart?

Elise is singing.

Getting ready to go to Okinawa the first time.

Do I look proud to be with these people? Sophia Ramos and Ben Nieves.

Chad Quist, Lisa Mills, Todd Vinciguerra. This was a good band.

With Kathi McDonald. Seattle.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Images and Ideas

7 November 2010

Janis in her Fillmore T.

Playing in Vicenza, Italy, October 2010.

Big brother 1996, with Lisa Battle.

Shooting the photographer in Compiègne, France, October 2010.

Albert King and Tim Buckley and us. Adventurous billing typical of the period.

Peter playing a solo on It’s Cool, Vicenza.

How Hard It Is. We loved making this album.

Teatro San Marco in Vicenza, Italy. Beautiful place. So much character.

Rehearsing in the 1960s.

Mary Bridget, photo by Arianna Antinori, or is that Nicola Zanettin?

Now, what could have been going on here?

Arriving at Teatro San Marco, Vicenza.

Lisa Law took this in West Marin.

These people are called Vicentine, females from Vicenza.

Joel Hoekstra, ex Big Brother. Now inhabits Rock Olympus.

Putative display for Marin Music Museum.

Newspaper account of our Vicenza stop.

Loose recreation of the hearth in our Lagunitas house, Marin Music Museum.

Nicola Zanettin shot this one.

Boulevard du Temple, photo by Daguerre, oldest Daguerrotype of a human?

Arianna Antinori.

Big Brother at The Cheetah, San Francisco. Peter Tork came to play with us.

Arianna in action. I’m going to do a painting of her.

My opening solo on Piece written out with bass part also.

Beginning five minutes of a painting that looks quite different now.

I like this shot of Arianna. It shows her Roman personality.

A Big Brother bootleg? I like the song choices. We should put this out.

Arianna singing Piece of My Heart. October 2010, Vicenza.

My right hand, 1967.

Tara Degl’Innocenti, Bergamo, Italy, November 2010.

Big Brother in bed.

Playing Piece of My Heart with Tara Degl’Innocenti.

Albert King. He tuned differently and played upside down. Wonderful tone.

Peter, Tara, Lory and Mary Bridget, out on the town in Bergamo, Italy.

Elmore James. God, we loved his playing. Still do.

Singing My Funny Valentine.

I have no idea where or when or who.

Country Joe and Ezio Guaitamacci at The Italian Cultural Center.

Jerry Donahue and Zak Keith. Jerry’s a good man and a great player.

Noe Valley. Isn’t this a great shot? See you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Dornbirn, Vicenza, Bruneck, Aarburg, Rubigen and Bergamo

31 Ocotber 2010

So, now we leave Strasbourg which is very close to the border with Germany, and we drive south into the Alps where we will be for much of the rest of our trip. Our first stop is Dornbirn, which is way over on the west side of Austria, near the beautiful Lake Constance.

When  I heard the name Dornbirn, I thought “Thorn pear, funny name for a town.” There are even pears in the city shield of Dornbirn. The real meaning of the town name, though, is much more interesting. There was an Alemannic farmer who lived here long ago and his name was Torro. (I love these old German names; I have a friend from Berlin named Ingo.) So this land was called Torrin Puirron, Torro’s Settlement, and over time this became Dornbirn. Nothing to do with pears, so you can take those off the city shield now.

Stefan Penz brought us to this place. Stefan has a very typical Austrian look, dark hair, fine features, slight of build. We played at the Wirtschaft, which means economy, restaurant or pub. It was a small place, and we held forth upstairs. Our hotel, Harry’s Home, was brand new, very futuristic looking and staffed by pleasant people.

The next day Ben and I drove down to Vicenza, Italy, and landed in the Tre Torri (three towers) hotel and now my flu is going full force. I can barely talk and i have to acknowledge what heroes Ben and Mary Bridget were even to be around me. It must have been scary, and I am grateful. They observed the marriage vows, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” They really hung in there and, to their immense credit, never made me feel bad for being ill.

Arianna, Antea, Filippo and Antea’s father came and picked me up at the hotel. Arianna is Roman and she has that witty Roman way. There’s always a joke and a smile behind everything she says and does. Antea’s father told me that Andrea Palladio was born in Padua, but came to Vicenza when he was very young and designed some buildings of High Renaissance calm and harmony, that still influence architects everywhere. I have long admired Palladio who seemed to me to construct the same sort of balanced periods in stone that Dr. Samuel Johnson did in his prose of 18th Century England.

We played at the Teatro di San Marco on 27 October 2010 at a beautiful event that Arianna Antinori made for us. Arianna and Antea worked so hard on this show and it was a stupendous success. They had to turn away 400 people. The place was jammed.

Arianna did everything. She sold tickets, she cooked the food, she provided the security, and then she sang Call On Me and Piece of My Heart with us, and she did such a great job. I said, “Io sono tanto felice di stare qui a Vicenza, e di suonare con Arianna Antinori, una vera amica e molto dottata.” I am so happy to be here in Vicenza and to play with Arianna Antinori, a true friend and very talented.

Ben Nieves added his own fire to the occasion. Arianna sounded good and she was dressed in black satin pants and a backless top, very beautiful. What a thrill it was to feel her excitement and add our own to it.

As we drove out of town the next morning, Ben and I saw these lovely statues, so human, so Italian. It was a fitting goodbye to Vicenza.

Now we drive back through the Brenner Pass to Bruneck, a town that has always had difficulty deciding whether to be Austrian or Italian. It is Austrian now, but not so long ago was Brunico, an Italian town. The people there speak Italian and German indiscriminately and all the signs are in both languages.

For example, Hanni here is fluent in Italian, German and English and switches back and forth with complete ease. The Alps are a linguist’s paradise. In Switzerland, right next door, four languages are officially used, French, German, Italian and their own dialect RhaetoRomansch (Romanche).

In Bruneck we played at UFO to a completely insane audience, unruly, out of their minds and determined to have a good time. Old friends Monika and Joseph came to this gig, and here is Monika sitting backstage with Jim Wall.

This is a photo by Nicola Zanettin, a very talented Italian photographer.

Walking out of the back door to our hotel in Bruneck, this is what you see.

This is a sign in our Bruneck elevator which I like: The greatest danger in life is to become too prudent. (I try to live by this motto.)

Bolzano is very near Dario Da Rold’s hometown of Belluno. I tried very hard to get to Belluno, but just couldn’t make it.

Yes, we’re in the Dolomites, a section of the Alps mostly in the province of Belluno, Italy. The Dolomites are mostly carbonate rock which is light in color, so there was a sense of beauty driving through the Alps that we missed when we drove down into the flatlands. The Adige is the main river that runs through the Dolomites.

Elena and Mary Bridget in Aarburg, Switzerland, where we stayed at The Hotel Krone, and played at another insanely lively place, The Moonwalker.

Arty shot of Ben in Aarburg. Ben played better than I have ever heard him play on this whole tour. Just extraordinary in every way.

On 30 October 2010 we played at Rubigen, Switzerland, one of our favorite places, The Mühle. This place is a work of art. Getting ready to go on with Stefan Penz and Jim Wall. Elena’s aunt Marliess and Inge were kind enough to take me back to the Hotel Ambassador in Berne after the gig. I was really ill with the flu at this point. No one else got the disease for which  I am truly relieved.

Not even Lisa who came to see me with her family backstage. She does look a little apprehensive here, though. That was a serious flu.

The next day, Hallowe’en, Ben and I drove down into the flatlands and across France to Paris. What a change from The Alps! France did look very beautiful, especially the closer we got to The City of Light. A little north of Paris we got lost and wandered around a Norman village that we would never have seen otherwise. It was surreal to me to see French children trick or treating, something they never did when i lived here. This is a completely American custom that has been exported, probably to benefit candy manufacturers. The Norman town was so exotic and the trick or treating so familiar, that the juxtaposition was jarring in the extreme.

Next day, 1 November, we flew to Milan and then drove to Bergamo, Italy, where we played at The Druso Circus as guests of Tara Degl’Innocenti who sang Piece of My Heart with us. I did an interview in the afternoon of the Bergamo show with Ezio Guaitamacchi, an old friend who does a radio show in Milan. It was good to see Ezio again. There is something special about him. He is calm, dignified, intelligent and watchful. It is a kind of lesson to be with him.

The Druso Circus in Bergamo was a small, round space filled with a lot of enthusiastic people, especially Tara who was bouncing around the room. She and Mary Bridget and several other people sang Mercedes Benz in a novel, brand new arrangement. That was quite a gig. Everyone was exhausted and so to bed. I tried to get Peter to take his clothes off, since in the last Big Brother bed photo he was the only one with clothes on, but it was no go this time again. Some people never change.

I called Elise at four in the morning (seven evening here in California) and she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow night,” which sounded strange to me at the time, but then we 1. drove from Bergamo to Milan where we caught a plane at seven in the morning. 2. landed at Charles de Gaulle (Paris) and caught a 1:30 Delta flight to Detroit, 3. went through customs and then boarded another plane to San Francisco, so almost twenty-four hours of travel. I was so happy to see Elise. Home after three weeks. Ahhhhh.

See you next week!

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Toronto, Rochester, Paris, Saint Dié, Compiègne

24 October 2010

We drove into the Rockpile parking lot and there on the sign was “Big Bother.” Years ago, I named the band Big Bother and the Folding Company, so when we saw this sign, we said, “They finally got it right.” I like how the ‘R’ is even a little corroded. A nice touch.

Victor Fernandes came to this gig. If they ever do a remake of Rebel Without A Cause, here is the principal cast: Teressa as Natalie Wood, Ben as James Dean, and Victor as Sal Mineo.

Dave and Peter in that special Toronto light.

Teressa is from Rochester, talented, sweet, Ben’s in love with her.

Six feet, four? No, I don’t think so. I would never fit in those airplane seats at that altitude.

Teressa is from Rochester. Ben met her there while he was doing Love, Janis.

Rochester, New York could not have been more different from Toronto. There is a beautiful museum there where they have “one of everything,” as the Marlene Hamann-Whitmore observed to me, and so they did. There was one Rembrandt, one Rothko, one Rockwell, and so on. A very beautiful place with beautiful people. This was a celebration of an installation of psychedelic art. So our set took on a sacramental quality. We all felt a glow from being in this place.

Peter Albin and I flew to Paris on Monday 18 October and fetched up in a hotel in the XVII arrondissement, just outside the péripherique, the belt loop that runs all around Paris. This hotel reminded me of one we had in Athens. Funky, gritty. I walked every morning a couple of miles to La Place Clichy and did some drawing. This is the way the Place looked in 1870 or so.

My brother Bill and i once lived in rue Legendre. i tried to find our apartment building but could not. Long time ago.

Twentyfirst century Parisian man.

The windows in my hotel room would not open, so the air in the room was stale and recycled, and I think I knew I was catching something. That little man was giving it to me.

Thiis drawing, done on the second day in Paris, is a man catching the flu.

Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and Jim Wall arrived in Paris on Thursday 21 October, and performed the very difficult feat of playing that same night. We were supposed to play at New Morning, a club that I love, but there was a venue change to La Boule Noire.

Dominique Bérard was our man in France, and it was such a pleasure to travel with him. He’s a funny man, fearless, honest. He went to the Sorbonne to study English literature, as I did to study French literature, so you could say we were schoolmates, somewhat separated in years.

Fortunately, the Paris event at La Boule Noire was a smashing success. The band took off at top speed, aided in no small measure by the drumming of Jim Wall, another Love, Janis musician. Jim’s playing was miraculous. His time is impeccable and non wavering and he kept up a series of accents that pushed the band along, always adding to the charge, always inflaming the music.

Peter and I played with Jim Wall in Buffalo a few years ago. Ben brought him to us, so, on this French trip, we had three Clevelanders along: Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and Jim Wall, and, I have to say, there is a very good chance that this was the best Big Brother, ever. The shows were high flying, fluid and fast. There was a sense of celebration here. High energy.

I did an interview in French with this TV crew and I didn’t really get into the flow of it. I was trying to say something original about Janis and to honor the fortieth anniversary of her passing, but just couldn’t quite get it right. I wish I could do that interview over again, but maybe they found something useful. I hope so.

Alain Bertrand came with his wife Marie Odile to La Boule Noire and brought me a beautiful prospectus of his Cuba paintings, which are marvelous in their detail and sense of humor. Merci beaucoup, Alain, you are so unbelievably talented and industrious. Marti and Phil Demetrion came to this gig with their Cuban friend, Jorge Masetti, who brought Peter and me his book The Pirate’s Den and inscribed it thusly: “Paris 10/21/10 a Sam, con todo el afecto. Muchas gracias por toda esa buena música.” I read the book on the way home and it is a gripping account of Jorge’s years as a “secret agent for Castro.”

Alison Benoit came to La Boule Noire. She and I knew each other so long ago in the days of the Haight. Alison is completely Parisian now.

So, we leave La Boule Noire and Paris.

The next day, Friday 22 October 2010, we drove east to Saint Dié, a beautiful town in Lorraine. My mother’s people are from Alsace very near here, so I thought a lot about how they left this beautiful place in the 19th century and traveled to arid, stark south Texas, which must have been a very dramatic change. They were southern Germans, really, Catholic, dark haired and used to a very fertile land. I can’t imagine how hard they worked to make it in Texas.

Saint Dié is an amazing place. For one thing, America was named there. I strolled around the cathedral and happened upon the spot where, in 1507, there was an imprimerie, a printing shop, where they were publishing maps of Asia, Europe, Africa, and a new land that they needed a name for. They knew the work of Amerigo Vespucci and so they arbitrarily decided to name the new continent for him, right in that small town, Saint Dié. Our hotel was called Le Globe and its breakfast room was named Amerigo Vespucci, which puzzled me until I happened on this sign.

Let’s see, on 13 March 1944, I was a little over two years old. If I were a Jew and I lived in this town, I would have been “assembled” with other coreligionists and been deported from this very cathedral square. I paused a long time at this sign. The history of humans is one long narrative of cruelty, madness, and savagery. Are things getting better? Tell me.

Véronique had heard us in Paris at New Morning the last time we played there and she wanted to bring us to her town, Saint Dié, and she did it. She put us in the very beautiful Espace Sadoul, as beautiful as she is, and she created a wonderful engagement for us, on Friday 22 October 2010.

Two lovely people, Mary Bridget Davies and Véronique. Mary Bridget sang so well on this trip. Strong, in tune, giving, giving, energizing the band, nonstoppable, happy, a life force.

The next day, we drove all the way back to Compiègne, an hour north of Paris. Compiègne is the town where France signed the treaty with Germany at the end of World War I. This was seen as a defeat for Germany, so naturally at the end of the Second Unpleasantness, Hitler saw to it that France would give herself over in this same town. There is a famous film of Adolph dancing the jig at this event, but it was doctored to look like that. He only did a little two step, so they edited the film back and forth to make a Hitlerian victory dance.

We played at Le Ziquodrome in Compiègne with the Marchal Brothers who were a strong unit. I liked the way the singer talked to the audience. I think I see Mary Bridget back there monitoring my armpit. (That must have been a fun place to be.)

Photo by Ben Nieves.

Les femmes de Compiègne.

Hotel scene.

We drove away from Compiègne, me in the back seat and Ben and Mary Bridget in front. We’re heading for Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, and I am becoming aware that I will have the flu. Always, it seems, halfway through these European trips, I break down in some way, catch my breath, and then am good as new again, so I’m right on schedule this time too. All three of the French engagements were wonderful for Big Brother, Paris, Saint Dié and Compiègne. The crowds were enthusiastic and we played well.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


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