Happy Birthday Janis Celebration at First Avenue.

Photo Credit: Ricahrd Dollarhide

Happy Birthday Janis: Inspired Woman Of Rock

You are counting the stars with rigid fingers while holding your ID in hand, surrounded by cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and the banter of strangers. You walk through the door to see the historic video screen framed between the tapestries, a crowd filled with 60s-retro clothing, and Janis Joplin through the house speakers. That’s when you are reminded that it doesn’t get any better in Minneapolis than First Ave on a wintery Saturday night.
Thanks to Jill Mikelson, the January tradition continued with the 13th annual Happy Birthday Janis celebration.

Mae Simpson Music

Mae Simpson Music Photo Credit: Richard Dollarhide

Opening for the birthday celebration was Mae Simpson Music. It was the first time Mae Simpson Music had played the main room, and it certainly will not be their last. As soon as the video screen went up, and a short announcement of the night’s activities were announced, Mae Simpson owned the stage.

Mae Simpson Music Photo Credit: Richard Dollarhide

You could feel the excitement from the band before a single note was played. When Mae hit her first powerful scream, those on the floor took notice. The raw energy coming from the band controlled the audience. I am certainly not a dancer, but if you were not moving to the sound, you would have been assumed to be dead. It was hard to imagine this was the first time this group played the mainstage, as they played to the audience like traveling rock veterans. It was a set that made you glad you were there, so you can tell everyone when May Simpson Music are huge, that you saw them “when.”

Happy Birthday Janis

From the center of the main room floor and with the house lights still on, singers Katy Hays, Debra Gmusic, and Jacy Smith started their party with Joplin classic “Mercedes Benz.” Then lights went down and the stage was lit as Jill Mikelson became Janis for the night.

Happy Birthday Janis Photo Credit: Richard Dollarhide

The presentation, filled with tapestries, lamps, and silhouettes of Janis, delivered a “welcome to my house” vibe as Jill took the stage. Jill’s voice was as stalwart as ever and her charm got everyone in attendance involved with the party. Taking turns on stage, Mikelson, Hays, Gmusic, and Smith, made the night more undoubtedly a celebration than a concert. It, indeed, was a celebration in honor of Inspiring Women of Rock.

Photo Credit: Richard Dollarhide

Big thanks are owed to Jill and all those on stage and in attendance. The night was a celebration of an artist that graced this earth for such a short time, but whose music and influence will remain here forever.

Photo Credit: Richard Dollarhide

Written by Richard Dollarhide

Photographer, Photojournalist, Executive Chef and Full Time Artist


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