As far as I was concerned, in 2008 Janiva Magness was nothing but the name of a blues artist I used to occasionally see on the Internet. Then one day she was booked to appear at McCabe's, which was sufficient reason for me to start looking into her music. I liked what I found, bought two tickets for her October 25, 2008, show and the rest is history.
The show started with two warm-up songs played by her band. Not bad. Then Janiva came out and knocked me out with her very first song. She went on to deliver a passionate and intense set of mostly funky uptempo songs, also a few ballads, all sung with power and feeling. The number that stood out the most was "You Were Never Mine", a fantastic ballad written, I learned later, by Delbert McClinton. This song has become - I think - Janiva's signature song. My wife was less appreciative of Janiva's performance, as she prefers softer and milder vocals. Well, Janiva is a blues belter, she's the real thing, so power and intensity is her game.
Jeff Turmes, Janiva's husband and occasional sax player in her band, is also a songwriter - Janiva never forgot to credit him whenever she performed one of his songs. Jeff was on stage with Janiva whenever there was no conflict with his other engagements.
|Janiva with husband and musical collaborator Jeff Turmes|
Watch "Get It, Get It", a song that she sang every time I saw her:
Janiva makes no secret of her age. Provocatively under-dressed, she announces her age at every show and I can tell you that, from my front row vantage point, she looks great.
In January 2010, Janiva spoke highly of Koko Taylor, who had passed away a few months earlier, then sang Koko's "Wang Dang Doodle".
After every show at McCabe's, a humble-looking Janiva mingled with her fans, signed autographs and appeared to be truly grateful for having fans who come to see her.
|Janiva with outstanding guitarist Zach Zunis|
Here's a partial list of the songs performed by Janiva Magness at McCabe's:
"Sometimes Yyou've Got To Gamble".
"What Love Will Do".
"You Were Never Mine"
"Wang Dang Doodle"
"Get It, Get It"
"Walking In The Sun"