Sophie B. Hawkins headlines Bradenton festival

Twinkle and others share the bill for the first Pussycat Festival

mclear@bradenton.comNovember 7, 2013 

Sophie B. Hawkins

It's been 18 years since Sophie B. Hawkins topped the charts with her huge hits "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and "As I Lay Me Down," but she's still making music for the masses.

"I've been being Janis Joplin," said Hawkins in a phone interview from her New York City home.

Hawkins has been starring in a musical biography of the late singer, titled "Room 105: The High and Lows of Janis Joplin." Both the show and Hawkins' performance received enthusiastic reviews around the country.

Hawkins will perform a couple of Joplin classics ("Ball and Chain" and "Piece of My heart," specifically), along with her own two big hits and newer material, when she performs on Saturday at a new event called the Pussycat Festival at Tarpon Pointe Tiki Bar & Grill.

Hawkins is an active advocate for animal rights, which makes her a great choice to headline the festival. It's a fundraiser for the Gulf Shore Animal League, which operates several programs aimed at reducing stray animal populations. It runs a "trap-neuter-release" program aimed at reducing the size of feral cat populations and a "bottle baby and foster care" program that feeds newborn orphan animals.

Hawkins is the headliner, but she's just one of the acts slated to appear during the six-hour event.

Also on the bill are Beverly McClellan, an alumna of the TV talent competition "The Voice," Dina Ward, Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio, "American Idol" finalist Melissa McGhee and folk-bluegrass band Passerine.

Hawkins said her years-long stint as Joplin left her even more respect for the late blues-rock star. She called Joplin an "opera singer with a tremendous amount of technique."

But portraying her was not easy.

"That was a powerfully moving experience," she said. It was really all-consuming. Being Janis Joplin is not an easy thing. She's difficult to be inhabited by. To be her, I had to go to the edges. Now that I've been Janis Joplin, being Sophie B. Hawkins is so much easier."

Besides being a singer, a songwriter and an actor (besides portraying Joplin, she recently played herself on an episode of "Community,"), Hawkins is a playwright, and she's been finishing up a script that Kristin Chenowith will be involved with.

Something that may surprise audiences here is that Hawkins is an accomplished drummer. She'll been playing several instruments during her shows here, but drums are her main instrument.

"Drums are the only instrument I've studied, the only instrument I play well," she said.

Details: 4-10 p.m. Tarpon Pointe Tiki Bar & Grill, 801 Riverside Drive, Bradenton. Tickets: $20. Information: 941-747-2284, www.gsalinc.org.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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