The Cole Porter Project

The Cole Porter/Americana Project

A dry martini in a mason jar

Americana artist Janie Barnett has long-nurtured the idea of setting Cole Porter’s songbook in a roots instrument setting. This project, which can be represented with 3-6 performing musicians, can shine in a small sultry club setting or a cutting edge performing arts center.

What if the longing, the lusting, and the True Love that is Cole Porter were dressed with a fiddle, a mandolin, a dobro, as well as the classic jazz-age piano and upright bass?

What if the singer drinks her dry martini out of a mason jar?

What if this Cole is the one that opens your floodgates and gives you permission to surrender to love?

These are songs from an era before twitter and auto-tune, not a perfect age by any means, but a moment in our musical history when great songwriters could create without so many restraints of genre. In the words of Cole: Anything goes!

The Cole Porter songbook is full of love and longing, divine sex barely disguised; wit, wisdom, and political decay; polished literary references, and Hollywood drama.

And so? We embrace these exotic, quixotic and downright folksy songs and set them spinning within the Americana setting. We bring it off the Broadway stage, the Hollywood movie set, and into the local saloon, the local library, the back porch, and the performing arts center. 

We bring delight and whimsy to Cole’s repertoire with the instruments that always make us smile.  The fiddle, the banjo, the accordion.  And do not forget the longing.  That’s the dobro, of course.

photo by Susan Wilson (right-click to download high-res photo)
Photo by Susan Wilson (right-click to download high-res photo)

Virginia native Janie Barnett cut her teeth on bluegrass festivals, church coffeehouses, and the American Folklife Festival.  Her love of hybrid genres began there: Stringed instruments playing folk, spirituals, zydeco,  bluegrass, pop, and jazz. Janie began playing instruments at a young age.  She is an accomplished guitarist and piano player, as well as a singer and songwriter.

“In one day my dad came home with several LPs:  The Weavers “Live at Carnegie Hall,” the cast albums of “My Fair Lady” and “Kiss Me Kate,” Danny Kaye’s “Mommy Gimme A Drink of Water,” and Billie Holiday’s “Lady Day.”   So began Janie’s love affair with exotic pairings of the great music of our culture.

She spent many years on the New England folk circuit, before making the mecca to New York City.

 Janie’s career as an Americana performer, a freelance session singer in New York City, and a prolific roots music songwriter, has meant performances with iconic artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Rickie Lee Jones and Celine Dion, performances on a variety of day and nighttime variety shows such as the Today Show and SNL.  She can be heard on countless national commercials, film scores, and other artists’ album releases.  She was a member of the legendary session musicians’ all-star band, The Supreme Court, formed by singer Marc Cohn.

Janie’s 2017 album release, “You See This River,” with her band BlueRoom, enjoyed heavy rotation on the roots music stations, and garnered her a place on several Top Releases lists of 2017.  One reviewer, Jason Valasquez, wrote: “Janie released one of the very best albums in the Americana universe certainly of 2017, and likely this decade.”

After that release Janie and BlueRoom played to sell-out crowds at her quarterly residency at NYC’s City Winery. As Janie and BlueRoom continue to develop songs for their live show as well as the next Blue Room album, Janie and colleagues from both Americana and jazz worlds are deep into the project that is called Cole Porter’s Fiddle. Cole Porter’s Fiddle can truly be called a passion project, which Janie has been developing for several years.  It has long been her vision to wrap the iconic and effervescent songs of Cole Porter in the instrumentation of our back porch Americana music.  A fiddle, a mandolin, a dobro, a guitar, along with the classic jazz-based acoustic piano and upright bass create a rich and exotic environment in which to fall in love with Cole all over again; to journey with these songs through the longing, lusting and loving of life, which these artful songs render.