Cathy-Ann Wells moved to the North Okanagan in 1990, a time when there were bands playing at the Lakeside Hotel, country bands periodically playing at the Wild Horse Saloon, rock bands playing the Vernon Lodge, blues bands playing at the El Paso lounge and it seemed there was always a local band throwing their own dances at the Paddlewheel Hall.
As a musician with nowhere to play, Cat (her stage name) auditioned to cruise ships and has been performing on them for the past few years. She started as a vocalist in a show band, moved to pub guitarist and now performs as a guest entertainer.
Wells saw a potential to bring live shows back to the area.
“I am blessed to take in some world-class entertainment. I have met many of the acts that grace the main stage. So I had this idea to bring some of the acts to the Okanagan,” she says. “I reconnected with my friend and promoter Mike Schell of Schell Shock Entertainment and we worked out a plan to bring my Janis Joplin show to town during my down time.”
The last time Wells performed at the Salmon Arm Rec Centre was in 1998, when her band PHAT Betty along with Doug and the Slugs hosted a fundraiser after the wildfires.
Wells found early heroes in Etta James and Billie Holiday. In its Okanagan hayday, PHAT Betty was the “go-to opening act” for touring bands such as ZZ Top, Jeff Healey, Trooper, Crash Test Dummies and more.
With her near four- octave range, Wells would perform the sweetest Ella Fitzgerald jazz ballad and without a blink be belting out Led Zepplin’s rock and roll with such conviction she’d give Robert Plant a run for his money.
Along with her ability to mimic Joplin’s voice with her throaty blues style, Wells has paid close attention to every detail, from costumes to moves and mannerisms giving outstandingly memorable performances.
“When I would perform with my blues band, fans kept asking for Janis Joplin. I admit I was annoyed at first because I didn’t understand what they were hearing/seeing,” she says. “When I finally sat down and watched a videotape of Janis performing, I was amazed at how similar our performances were.”
Wells has been performing as Janis Joplin for the past 15 years.
Backed by some of the hottest musicians on the west coast, the show adds the Okangan’s “Uptown Hornz” to their Interior performances, creating an impressive nine-piece band.
The show takes place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at on Jan. 14 at the SASCU Rec Centre. Tickets are available at Wearabouts or online at TCBLegends.com.
Reserve a table of 10 or more and receive a 10 per cent discount.