Janis Joplin’s most memorable performances include Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock Art and Music Festival, making her an icon of the hippie movement. Despite this, most people don’t know about what is possibly her strangest performance. In 1970, Joplin, along with Buddy Guy, The Band, and the Flying Burrito Brothers among others participated in “Festival Express,” in which all participants shared the same train and rode across Canada, stopping to play shows along the way. The train dropped the party off in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary between June 24th and July 5th.
The first show in Toronto was met with protest by potential attendees, insisting that the festival should be free, prompting performers to publicly rehearse in front of the protestors to calm the masses. Footage found of the musicians on the train in between performances shows the artists engaged in a nonstop party, jamming together and consuming a precarious amount of alcohol. In the end, the tour ended up being a total loss of money. Promoters would remark in the 2003 documentary Festival Express that the tour was for the fun of the musicians, not for the audience nor the musicians’ management. The footage from the tour, showcased in the aforementioned documentary, contains classic performances by Joplin and her band, showcasing exactly why Joplin continues to be remembered for her musical talent and genius.
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