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article imageOp-Ed: New documentary of Janis Joplin makes premiere tonight at Roxy Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 4, 2015 in Entertainment
San Francisco - Like echoes of a song, faintly lingering in the background of one's memories of youth, former journalist-turned-job counselor, Kathy Bramwell Ostram wanted very much to be at tonight's premiere of "Janis: Little Girl Blue."
The new documentary film by award-winning filmmaker Amy J. Berg, showing at the Roxy Theater in the Mission District, will have a question and answer session with David Getz, band member of Big Brother and The Holding Company moderated by Ben Fong-Torres. Ostram, now a grandmother who is babysitting this weekend will have to catch a later showing during the week as the documentary has a six-day engagement at The Roxy.
She was disappointed she could not make it to the special premiere. Yet, when this reporter talked to her earlier, she mentioned "Janis was such a real down-to-earth-person. I was at San Francisco State, (in the late 1960s majoring in journalism and wrote for the school paper. We got passes to all the shows at The Fillmore West, Great American Music Hall, you name it," she said. "It was a special time and the music was great," she added.
After graduating from SF State U with her degree in journalism, Ostram went to work for the public relations office of UCSF Medical Center. "I would have stayed there. But I got married and my husband got a job at the time, that required moving out of the City and out of California. And so that was that."
Still happily married to the same husband (whom she met while attending those shows at The Fillmore West, etc.), "It is hard to forget those days. A lot was happening then; in the world," she said. "The '60's and 70's were a time of tremendous change. And, much of that was reflected in the different movements, like the Peace Movement, the Ecological Movement and of course, said Ostram, the music."
Ostram was not alone in wanting to be there. "I can't make it to The Roxie tonight, said Steve Keyser. But I am definitely planning on seeing this film soon." Keyser became the manager of Big Brother and The Holding Company in 1987 and has been with them ever since. "That was when the original four members of Big Brother re-united," he said. Although, he noted, "I never met Janis (in person) I have always been a big fan!"
When I asked him 'what is it about Janis Joplin that endures even 45 years later after her death?' He replied, "her vocal style was so very felt her pain....she was marvelous to watch as well as listen to," he said. And, like Ostram he too said, "Janis was real.....just a simple person who told it and sang it like it is."
The life-story of Janis Joplin has been told through the media many times. Some of it has become legendary. And at other times, a tragic-cautionary epitaph about the dangers of recreational drug use.
No matter from which angle, the music she sang continues to echo. One most recent of this was the Off-Broadway 2001 musical production of "Love, Janis." Initially it had been produced by The Denver Theater Company in the early 1990's, based upon the book by her sister Laura Joplin.
The interest in the iconic rock-and-roll blues singer has continued, even when tastes in music changed. And, the subsequent youth cultures following the 1960s and '70's that went through a conservative phase in the 1980's, did not obscure her entirely.
Elements of her style and gutsy approach to music and performance are everywhere. Country singer Faith Hill made a rendition of Joplin's "Take a Little Piece of My Heart," and took it to the Billboard Charts. And, while some still prefer the original, no doubt the influence of Joplin as an icon or point of reference in rock music remains.
Amy J. Berg as a critically acclaimed filmmaker has been nominated for an Academy Award and won an Emmy Award for her previous work. Officially, released this past Nov. 27, written and directed by Berg "Janis: Little Girl Blue" continues at The Roxy Theater until December 10. For more information visit The Roxy Theater web site or see the web page at FilmRise Distribution.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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