Texas Int'l Pop Festival - Janis Joplin

I didn’t realize this until today, but Janis Joplin’s birthday was Saturday. Had she lived, she would have been 65. I found a story in the online Houston Chronicle about a celebration in Port Arthur, the city not too far southeast of Houston where Joplin was born and raised. (I’d link the story for you, but I can’t find it now. Here’s an AP story instead.)

I made a trek down to Port Arthur once, not too long after I moved to Houston in 1998. Not knowing how long we would be living there, the ex-wife and I had promised ourselves that we would see as much of Texas as we could. One weekend, we decided the time was right to drive down to Port Arthur and visit the Museum of the Gulf Coast, see the Janis Joplin exhibition there, and see what else was happening.

The trip itself took us a little more than two hours. As we were to learn time after time, nothing in Texas was nearby. It would take at least an hour to drive from the north suburbs to the west suburbs to see friends. But we eventually got to Port Arthur, Tex., population roughly 58,000. I don’t know if I would treat Port Arthur as a travel destination. Granted, it’s been about 10 years since I was there, but I don’t remember seeing much of anything happening or anyone out doing it. The picture in my mind is of a hot, deserted town.

The museum, for being so out-of-the-way, is very, well, museum-y. There was, of course, the exhibit commemorating the town’s most famous daughter, as well as an entire Music Hall of Fame. Displays celebrate such Texas legends as Edgar Winter, The Big Bopper, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, to name just a couple. This isn’t just a small town Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though; the Museum of the Gulf Coast has plenty of regular exhibits as well. Like I say, I wouldn’t make Port Arthur a vacation destination, but if you find yourself in Houston with an afternoon to kill, take a drive out I-10 and check out what they’ve got. It’s worth the trip.

Today’s music is from Janis’ Aug. 30, 1969, appearance at the Texas International Pop Festival, in Lewisville, Tex. She was touring at the time with the Kozmic Blues band. The band featured a large horn section, lending a more jazz-oriented blues sound to her music.

Stage Announcements by Wavy Gravy.mp3
Raise Your Hand.mp3
As Good as You’ve Been to This World.mp3
Try (Just a Little Bit Harder).mp3
To Love Somebody.mp3

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