I will always remember the first time I saw Janet Robin play. A good friend and colleague of mine kept insisting that I come watch his cousin Carol play in her band, an all female band. Please keep in mind in the early to mid ‘80’s L.A. was infested with “chick” bands, most of them bad.
After months of incessant nagging I was finally cornered; the band, Precious Metal was playing locally, and worse yet it was my day off. Left without an excuse to attend I made the best of it. With any luck they would at least be cute.
The “big” day arrived and we had front row seats, or should I say the stage crushing our chests. It was a typical L.A. club except it was packed. Either the line up was good or there was a free buffet. Still skeptical, I kept looking for the food. As I stood there with a monitor in my face I was wondering what I was doing and if I had lost my mind.
Curtain call: Precious Metal filtered on to the stage. My attention was on the reason for being there, the drummer, was pointed out to me; an impressive blond Amazon that approached her kit the way a lioness stalks a gazelle.
Carol took her place and opened the set; the concussion from her force and the maple Gretch kit created a sonic wave that was felt as well as heard. I knew I was in for a good night.
Enter the guitar. A chord struck so passionate
and demanding I damn near threw out my neck to focus on the source. To
my surprise the source was a radiant lady that appeared to be no more than
a child. I glanced at my watch; it was 11:45pm, surely it must be past
her bedtime. As I stood there with my mouth agape I watched what should
not be believed. This “child” did not only wielded her axe with the skill
of a master she communed with it. It was difficult to tell where the instrument
ended and she began. She played with an ease and ferocity that would rival
any pro on the circuit, be they man or woman.
I followed the band until their demise, sad but true all good things must come to an end.
Years later, long after I had given up hope on ever seeing Janet play live again, on one boring yet fateful evening I plugged her name into my favorite search engine and hit pay dirt. She is now an indie and she was on the road. To make matters better she was on the road touring my new digs. Needless to say I jumped in my car and high tailed it to the next venue she was playing. I came with the hopes of sharing her history with those who would listen. If nothing else I was in for one hell of a fun night.
In order to understand completely how Janet became such a consummate artist it is necessary to examine her beginnings. Heavily influenced by her brother, also a guitar player, Janet was driven to begin playing as well. She was six years old. She studied folk and classical guitar for four years before she showed an interest in electric. As fate would have it Randy Rhoads’ mother owned the school she was taking lessons at. Janet studied with Randy exclusively for five years. “I was his only girl student, but he really didn’t care about that he was all about teaching and guitar”
After Precious Metal broke up in 1991 she briefly played with her former lead singer Leslie Knauer. A year and a half later she got an audition call for Lindsey Buckingham. She ended up playing with Lindsey for three years and attributes much of her current direction and musical evolution to his influence. “Lindsey was very motivating and inspiring. I would play these little riffs here and there and he would say ‘that’s really cool’ He helped me unknowingly with my confidence”
Although there is an obvious change in her sound from her beginnings her roots have not been abandoned. “It’s not that I am not a rocker and I think you can even see that when I play acoustically. My influences have always been the rock bands of the 70’s. Then I got to play with one of the great guitar players of the 70’s [Buckingham]. When that gig ended I had all these great mixtures of music in me”.
It was an extreme pleasure seeing her live
again after so many years. Not knowing what to expect I was pleasantly
surprised. Her current works are imaginative, refreshingly diverse, and
as always, executed flawlessly.
Article written by: Leslie
Leslie Sallee is a former audio engineer and is currently trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.
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