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.
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