Martucci channels the spirit of Janis Joplin at the Wave Gathering

The Star Ledger

by Jay Lustig

Christine Martucci grew up in the Flemington area and still lives there. But as a musician, her base is in Asbury Park.

"Every time I set foot in the Stone Pony, on that stage, I feel like I'm home," says the singer-songwriter-guitarist.

Martucci, a blues-rocker whose strong voice and fiery attitude has inspired comparisons to Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin, will perform at a free outdoor street festival that is part of this year's Wave Gathering.

It won't be her first Gathering appearance. "Any time that people get together and say, 'Hey, we're a community, let's celebrate the music and the artists, and the diversity in the styles of music,' I think it's awesome," she says. "Since the onset of the Wave Gathering, I've always been a big supporter of it. I love the fact that I can go see a country band or a blues band or an avant-garde fusion thing, all in one night."

For her Saturday performance with guitarist Tim Quick, Martucci will feature a few songs from "Breakfast With Janis," a musical she has written about herself and Joplin.

"It's based on a dream I had when I was going through a very dark time in my life," she says. "She came to me in a dream, and we had breakfast together."

In the play, Martucci's first attempt at anything theatrical, she recounts struggling with the idea that a rock musician should die young, like Joplin did in 1970 at age 27.

"I struggle with that skewed reality," Martucci says. "If I keep playing my music, it's going to die a slow death, but if I die young, at the top of my game, then I'm going to live forever. And Janis basically comes to me and says, 'No, no, no, you've got it all wrong, baby. This is not how it works.'"

Martucci will return to Asbury Park on July 18 to showcase the first act of the play at the Paramount Theatre before presenting a mixed set of Joplin songs and her own material with her band. The Bob Burger Band and the Mike Montrey Band will also perform at the show.

Her long-term goal is to present "Breakfast With Janis" off-Broadway.

"I don't see it as a Broadway play," she says. "I want it to be really organic and independent. I've been doing music for 15, 20 years now, and I've always done it my way, and I think off-Broadway would be a better fit."

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