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Jammin' For Joplin

Written by Annie Billups.

Mosey on down to Port Arthur for the 19th annual Janis Joplin Birthday Bash on Saturday, January 28th, even if you have to “thumb a diesel” like Bobby McGee.

The stars aligned for Port Arthur on January 19th, 1943, when the Gulf Coast oil-refinery town birthed one of rock-’n’-roll’s most recognizable bangle-wearing, crazy-coiffed female stars. If it hadn’t been for Janis’ troubled teen-age years here, she might not have had the fire in her soul to belt the “kozmic blues” and revolutionize the role women play in rock music.

The bash usually takes place in the Port Arthur Civic Center, but this year, because of damage from Hurricane Rita, the party rocks on in the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College. Janis Joplin fans from across the United States and beyond have poured into Port Arthur every January since the festival began.

Amby Martin, originally from nearby Nederland, performed as Janis at the Birthday Bash three years ago. She’ll return this year, along with Grammy nominee Johnny Winter, Mississippi’s The Beat Daddys, and Houston’s Navasota-Rio. During Johnny Winter’s set, he will be inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame, where he will join Janis and other Gulf Coast music-makers.

General admission tickets cost $20 in advance (at A & S Music in Nederland, Penny Record in Bridge City, and Swicegood Music Co. in Beaumont); $23 at the door. The Ramada Inn in Port Arthur (409/962-9858) offers concert packages that include two tickets and one night’s stay the weekend of the bash. Call 800/235-7822; www.portarthurtexas.com.

From the January 2006 issue.

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