Shoreworld: Breakfast With Janis
by John Pfeiffer
Breakfast With Janis - The Paramount Theater - July 18
When I think of Christine Martucci, I always think of that hard living singer that manages to claw her way through the dirt and out of the backyard while ending up in the hearts and minds of the music world at large. From tender beginnings to rough and tumble times of crisis, Martucci has always been an open book, making killer music no matter what the circumstance and giving concertgoers 150 percent.
She has also never been one to shy away from voicing her private ideas to the public, calling her fans the "Tucci Train," she exudes a maternal love for every one of them and has come to view them intimately as family. She trusts them deeply enough to bare her soul to all of them in her debut confessional play this Saturday entitled Breakfast With Janice at The Paramount Theater in Asbury, where Christine ponders her options of life and near death. She seeks inspiration and comfort from the parallels in both the lives of herself as well as Janis Joplin. She took a few minutes to discuss it with me today.
What lead you to this nocturnal conversation with Janis Joplin?
I was at a point I my life that was very dark when the dream happened. I was going down a path that was definitely self-destructive and - because my self worth was down, being a young artist and trying to make it in NYC - trying to make it anywhere. I was falling into an unreachable place, and I had this dream, which I call divine intervention on behalf of Janis Joplin. We had breakfast together, we laughed, we cried, and ultimately her visit saved my life. Janis saved me from my own destruction.
Do you relate to many of the same highs and lows in life?
Absolutely. There's one point in the middle of the play where I talk to Janis about how you feel so loved onstage and how everything is so intense, the lights, the fans. You're just so at home. But when you're off stage, your pushed right back into futility again. So a lot of personal sabotage went on, just stuff many artists get caught up in. Being a woman musician, there's insecurities, second guessing, can I hang with the big boys? The similarities between Janis and me and what my story is about.
You mentioned sabotage. Did using drugs and booze make things easier for you to deal with?
That's a great question. It just kept getting harder. Because now you're insecure and you have an addiction so, you know it's just a downward spiral and when you reach that point dark people start to surround you because you're like, 'Fuck it, I'm irrelevant so I don't care,' and they just move in and take pieces of you. I explore this a lot in this initial act of the play.
Is this a standard length play?
A lot of people ask me why we are just doing one act of the play and the reason is to test market it. Were inviting producers and professional theater people from New York to see if it will fly so to speak, and then we go to the next step. It's not like the old days where you just go out and play your music and bam! I knew this was the right time to tell my story and get it out there and with the right team, and money (laughs), turn it into a full-fledged play that will also have a CD of the music to go along for fans as well.
As a gay woman in the rock world, do you feel the presence of bigotry much in the same way that Janis must have dealt with in her past?
The only obstacles I have encountered are ones that I had put up myself. I have been very lucky to have major record execs want to sign or work with me in the past and present. So I'm not one of those people that say, 'Oh, I'm a woman in rock and roll and things are so unfair. Sometimes fear is good, sometimes it's not. I mean, I turned down Russell Simmons for an opportunity because I wasn't sure if I was ready and shame on my agent for not dragging me to that meeting at the time (laughs). Looking back I think I made the right decision for my present and future career.
Will you be playing any Joplin musical interpretations at The Paramount this Saturday or is it all you?
I am doing one song, its called 'Little Girl Blue' written by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, published in 1935. The song was introduced in the Broadway musical Jumbo. I do that right before the end of the first act. And my god, Janis nailed that song when she was alive! I tested it out at The Wave Gathering and it went over very well.
So how will these other bands (Bob Burger, Mike Montrey, Linda Chorney) tie into your theme for the night?
Well, this first installment of my play is pretty heavy and I don't want people to feel like, 'Oh my god, what's gonna happen next?' It's a rock and roll celebration, I'm celebrating my life and survival and I want these three awesome bands to be a part of that unity, like 'were all in this together' feeling. So it's, 'Hey everything's gonna be ok, I'm still here.' (laughs)
Who would you cite as a major musical influence in your life that's not famous and why?
That would be my father because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have appreciated the Beatles or Motown or anything else. I was really into blues and horns, and my father was a trumpet player, and was the one that brought that creativity, that musical designer out in me. I wrote my first song when I was nine and I haven't stopped, he died quite young, but before he died he got to hear my first EP and he was so excited and I know that he's proud of me and watching me now. So I'm keeping our dream alive.
How did you start working with Anthony Krizan of The Spin Doctors?
It was kind of like right place, right time thing. I value his writing and had heard things he's produced for other artists and I thought he could really bring something out of me. We started a couple of writing sessions to get to know each other and it gelled immediately and I said, 'Look I have this play I'm doing that I need to concentrate on,' and he offered some songs and wound up coming up with 'Sin And Redemption' which is the opening number for the play. And he's also playing in the band with me.
What's the most important thing you want to stress about Christine Martucci as a person and a musician in today's crazy world?
I'm here. I survived. There are no limits or rules. I've always called myself the Rocky Balboa of the industry because my fans root for me, they want me to succeed. The most important thing is that I now love and respect what I do and whom I meet and come in contact with. I'm so thankful for Madison Marquette and Live Nation helping me with this, John D'Esposito, Gary Mottola - real developmental support. My manager had to go pick up tickets from the promoter and they handed my manager a letter that somehow made its way to them and it was simply addressed to me. It was from a 78-year-old woman named Ruth who was a Janis fan who just wanted to wish me luck on the play. And I'm gonna make sure she remembers this because to me the most important act is the love and respect you show others. If you give love it always comes back and that's what I stress in my life.
The Paramount Theater is located at 1300 Ocean Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712 (732) 897-8810. Doors are at 7p.m. christinemartucci.com.
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