5 Questions: Janet Beveridge Bean

Janet_Beveridge_Bean Janet Beveridge Bean

At the age of 16, Janet Beveridge Bean joined her first band as a means to get into the over 21 punk rock clubs. 35 years and over 30 critically acclaimed full length albums later, she’s still at it. As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter she is a founding member of the long standing post punk band Eleventh Dream Day (Thrill Jockey Records) and the genre bending gothic folk country band Freakwater, (Bloodshot Records).  More recent projects include the jazz folk ensemble The Horse’s Ha (Fluff and Gravy Records), the “devotional ambient dreamscapes” of Mind Over Mirrors (Paradise of Bachelors), and along with Sally Timms of the legendary band The Mekons, a feminist dada  reaction to disaster capitalism, !MOXIE TUNG!


Janet Beveridge Bean

1. What’s been keeping you up at night? 
Around 4am the demon that wreaks havoc just before the dawn tends to enjoy spending time with me. I usually spend the hours between 4 and 6am contemplating death. Then the radio comes on to wake my husband at 6am and this immediately puts me back to sleep.  I have been deeply troubled/fascinated by the concept of death since I was a small child. I had a terrible time going to sleep when I was young for fear death would take me.

When I wake suddenly at 4am I often begin thinking about my death or the death of those I love. I might weep for a bit from the thought of it all, or I might imagine how to best prepare my son if I died.It’s really bad if I start thinking about my son’s death. I feel the air knocked from my lungs like I took a punch. I then just think about how I would have to kill myself.

I feel the air knocked from my lungs like I took a punch. I then just think about how I would have to kill myself. 

I go through a very elaborate process when thinking of the death of those close to me. I imagine each moment from knowing of their death to living again without that person. How each thing I did, like brush my teeth or mail a letter, those quotidian details of life, how they would each become, a first, the first time since that death.There’s a devastating novel on the anguish of “first times”by Stephen Dixon that I should have never read for it has cursed me.

It’s a pretty overwhelming process. I was happy to find out from a therapist that this obsession with what I would do after someones death is a way to calm myself and not merely a morbidly egotistical exercise. I know no amount of mental run throughs will ever prepare me for the death of someone I love, but it does have an oddly calming effect.  Fun stuff like that keeps me up. There’s an old English word for the time of night just before the dawn when you lie awake. It’s called “uhtceare”. Uht means the restless hour before dawn and ceare translates to care and sorrow. Uhtceare and I are frequent lovers under the cover of darkness.

2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?
The Hideout Block party this year on September 23rd was one of the coolest things I have done, seen, heard lately. Rick Rizzo had the idea to bring a bunch of bands together that all had a member turn 60 in 2017.

It was also 60 years ago that sputnik was launched. It was a sputnik baby birthday bash. The bands Rick brought together have all been close for decades now. There was 75 dollar bill , Antietam, Jon Langford, Condo Fucks (Yo La Tengo’s bitchin side project) and eleventh dream day. It was so beautiful to see these bands play with such joy and abandon.

We have all been very close for many many years. Hell, Tim and Tara from Antietam I’ve known since I was 16. We had a band together. To see a collection of musicians, none of us with any sort of real commercial success, still playing together after 30 years and still making fucking great music while a big enthusiastic crowd of people of so many different ages are totally digging it, well, it was just so satisfying!

3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
I have a couple fun musical things I am working on. The Freakons- a mash up of the Mekons and Freakwater, is turning into a real rock opera, or maybe I should say coal opera. We were kindly given a grant to make a record. All record sale and poster sale profits go to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

KFTC is a do-gooder Ky org that works to help diversify the mono-economy of Appalachia as well as end the practice of mountain top removal in coal mining.  We just played a few shows in September and recorded one of then.  We found that there is a historical connection between the Appalachian coal culture and the Welsh Coal culture. I think we found the Rosetta Stone in the form of Richard Burton’s soliloquy on the Dick Cavett Show. He spends about 5 minutes describing the muscular buttocks and bowed leg of the darklords of the underworld We have been under his spell ever since. 

I dare you to watch it and not be stunned into service:

The songs we’ve written are of a whole new breed for either band. I think one was said to be reminiscent of The Alex Harvey Band, although I think it’s more Queen like. I am pretty excited about it and look forward to using it as a great excuse to travel to Wales and drink beer together.

I also have been working with the talented Jaime Fennelly. He asked me to join his project, Mind Over Mirrors for his last record, Undying Color. I guess it worked out because I toured on it and was asked to go into the studio again with him for his next record. It’s extremely fulfilling music to play and unlike anything I have ever done. For the upcoming record, out in February I think on Paradise of Bachelors, we will be performing it  during a week long residency at the MCA, here in Chicago. Jaime has built, with the help of others a rather expansive zoetrope that will be part of the performance. I am very much looking forward to traveling on this record and playing a different type of performance space.

4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?
Without a doubt it would be my mom. She was such a crucial support for me. She died in 2009 and I miss her daily.

5. When the movie of your life is made what will it be called?
The Reluctant Musician Who Never Said No.