The earlier replies from Ted Samsel and Judy McCulloh about Janis Joplin's early days in a hillbilly band were pretty much on the mark. Here's a colorful account in her own words from an old interview (courtesy of "Piece of My Heart", a biography by David Dalton).

"I was in a hillbilly band, mostly hanging out - I was supposed to be going to college, but I just went up there so I could get it on. I was singing in this hillbilly group called the Waller Creek Boys, Waller Creek runs right through Austin, and Powell St. John was in the group, and a young guy called Lanny Williams who got married and had babies.

"We used to sing at this place called the Ghetto and just hang out and get drunk a lot, get in big fights, roll in the mud, drink beer and sing, pick and sing, pick and sing. Walked around carrying my autoharp. Never went anywhere without my autoharp.

"We were singing at this bar called Threadgill's on the outskirts of town. It was a converted gas station, it still had that awning and everything, you'd pull the car in an go in and have a beer, and Mr. Threadgill was a hillbilly singer. Every Saturday night everybody would go there. It was a very strange amalgam of people. There were all these old Okies, all the kids, little grandkids. Then there were a bunch of college professors - older cats that were into country music intellectually - the first of the folk trend, and then there were the young upstarts that were into it, too, and that was us.

"And then there was Mr. Threadgill - he surpassed them all. He was old, a great big man with a big belly and white hair combed back on the top of his head. And he was back there dishin' out Polish sausages and hard-boiled eggs and Grand Prize and Lone Star, "another eighteen Lone Star," dishin' out the Lone Star. And someone would say, "Mr. Threadgill, Mr. Threadgill, come out and do us a tune." And he'd say, "No, I don't think so," and they'd say "Come on, come on," and he'd say "All right." He'd close the bar down, and then he'd walk out front, and he'd lay his hands across his big fat belly, which was covered with a bar apron, just like in Duffy's Tavern. He'd come out like that and lean his head back and sing, just like a bird, Jimmie Rogers songs, and he could yodel - God, he was fantastic!

"We used to go there and sing every Saturday, and I was the young upstart loudmouthed chick - "That girl sounds a lot like Rosie Maddow, don't she?" And I'd sing Rosie Maddox songs, and I'd sing Woody Guthrie songs, but one time an evening I'd say, "Can I do one now? Can I do one now?" and they'd say, "Okay, let that lady have a tune," and I'd say, "give me a 12 bar in E." I sang blues, I could only sing one a night... made it there every night!"

Reminds me a little of some of Frank's accounts of bluegrass bars of that era.

- Jeff Miller