Activist Singer-Songwriter Janet May Wows The Sold Out Subterranean Crowd

Janet May performs at Subterranean in Chicago, IL on 2/11/2020 Photo Credit ©Ian Bardecki 2020

Chicago, Il – Former backup singer for the Bombay Bicycle Club, Janet May is currently on tour promoting her solo material, opening for Palace who is on their first-ever North American tour which is now officially sold out in every city.

As Janet May took to the sold-out Subterranean stage, she picked up her Gibson guitar. There are no other band members tonight. Just herself, her guitar and a backing track with a suitcase housing a turntable and vinyl record, ready to play. Her own little reminder that, “Music has to travel,” she told me as I ran into her by sheer luck after her strong opening set. “I’m for bringing my music to where it’s needed, where it belongs. Any opportunity to offer music at an action or for an initiative for movement. I will bring my music however I can. Let it connect us. We are not so different from one another and music reminds us who we are and how much we share together. That’s why I present my music with a vinyl player in a suitcase.” Janet was dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with “Built For Comfort” and a pair of blue jeans that she picked up just a few hours before the show, “Can you believe it?” she said. “I put my clothes in to wash, came back from the old Chess Recording Studio and the laundromat burned down! Seriously! I have pictures!” she said while laughing. She had a great sense of humor about her slight misfortune tonight regarding her laundry that lead her needing to buy clothes to perform just a few hours later.

As I listened to her set, I found her lyrics to be incredibly empowering and thought-provoking, especially in “Lessons To Learn”, where she talks about the challenges and hardships in life that all of us face. The line that stuck with me the most, “And I can’t seem to hold my head up high / Look my demons in the eye / As the seasons of my life / Echo in time.” Describing what all of us have felt at some point, or are feeling now — dealing with the challenges of life and our own demons, owning those hardships and overcoming them.

Janet May is right about us not being so different from one another. Music is definitely what connects humanity; it helps us understand the world around us, each other, and ourselves. Maybe if we all stopped for a minute, just listened, we could all be a little better for it.


Janet May Online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Ian Bardecki
Born in Scotland, raised in the United States, based in Chicago. Ian Bardecki is a professional photographer, avid motorcyclist, reader, IT geek, gaming and comic book nerd, who was bathed in music at a young age by his mother who constantly played classical piano in their home. While she also introduced him to the Beatles and Elvis, his father forced on him Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, the local paper boy had him listening to Alice Cooper, his uncle then turned him onto KISS and his first 8 track tape, while his friends turned him onto punk music. Today, his music library ranges from Amadeus Mozart to ZZ Ward and everything in between. Hesitantly agreeing to fill in one night to photograph a concert at a local venue in San Francisco for a friend, was where the accidental love and passion for concert photography was born and hasn’t stopped growing since. As a freelance photographer, Ian has had the honor of working with various artists like, John 5, Sick Puppies, Scott Stapp, Drowning Pool, Anti-Flag and Art of Dying, just to name a few. Ian can be found on Instagram and Facebook under Center Stage Pictures.