‘Rock chick’ and ‘theater baby’ Jana Peri shows off her vast range of music skills in the East Village

Jana Peri at Pangea
Jana Peri at Pangea, the site of her upcoming show
Photo by Bob Krasner

Jana Peri didn’t waste much time getting started — she got her first guitar at age seven, with a precocious start writing songs around that same time — and she shows no signs of slowing down.

A solid power pop rocker, East Village resident Peri was born in Manhattan, raised on Long Island and returned to New York at 18 to study drama at NYU.

“I’m a rock chick, but I’m also a theater baby,” she explains. A background of ballet, tap, jazz, serious acting training and some forays into “weird, experimental theater” have all led to her upcoming show at Pangea in the East Village entitled “One Woman is Enough! (Songs, Stories, Humor and Heartbreak).”

Peri promises an “alt-cabaret rock show” that will touch on her history as a singer-songwriter, the things she has done to get by and the problems brought on by her “love life and bass players.” When she graduated college, she “waitressed and auditioned, because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do,” she recounts.

There were roles in plays and extra work in films while she worked her way up to forming her own band. Along the way, Peri worked with the legendary promoter Sid Bernstein, her job occasionally being taking the octogenarian to Beatles conventions.

Peri, a “self-sufficient only child,” was never going to fade into the background. “I was wearing fishnets at an early age and stopping traffic in Long Island!” she says.

Jana Peri performing
Jana Peri rocking the Bowery Electric Map RoomPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri with longtime drummer Rob HolmPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri takes flight at the Parkside Lounge, Rob Holm stays groundedPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri, soon to be uncaged in The Library at Joe’s PubPhoto by Bob Krasner

Whether fronting her own band or taking part in the current series of tributes mounted by F*Bomb or the Loser’s Lounge, Peri puts her all into each performance. Joe McGinty, the Loser’s Lounge maestro, has frequently had her onstage since 2006 at Joe’s Pub to celebrate the likes of the Beatles, Blondie, the Kinks, the B-52’s, David Bowie and the Talking Heads, all of whom have been influences on her.

“Jana always goes above and beyond for her performances at Loser’s Lounge,” McGinty notes. “Maybe sometimes ‘too’ above and beyond, but that’s Loser’s Lounge, and that’s Jana.”

“My voice is my first instrument — I just love to sing,” Peri informs us. “But I don’t just stand there and sing, I sell it. And I don’t turn into a folkie when I play an acoustic guitar.”

She has occasionally turned into other folks — as when she dressed in drag to honor Paul McCartney, Bowie and Michael Jackson. “I did ‘Beat It’ and stole the choreography from the video. I was spot on,” she humbly notes.

Peri’s participation in these gigs is just an enjoyable side note to her own shows, which feature years worth of original material. From statements of intention (“I Wanna Rock”) to statements of fact (“Dating Sucks”) Peri takes elements of her life, adds some fictional elements and keeps rocking.

“I was happy for a long time,” she muses, “but the songs have changed in the last couple of years. They come from deep pain. It’s been rough — losing relationships, jobs … COVID. But I believe in making lemonade from lemons.”

Jana Peri, just a girl and her guitar at Joe’s PubPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri, Femme Fatale at Bowery ElectricPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri, pre-show for an F*BOMB performance at Bowery ElectricPhoto by Bob Krasner
Jana Peri ready to rock at Arlene’s GroceryPhoto by Bob Krasner

Luckily, she hasn’t lost her sense of humor, as evidenced in some of the newer, as yet unrecorded tunes: “Romance is Dead (The Hell It Is!),” “Get It Up” and “Deadbeat Boyfriend.”

“Music is really therapy for me…. I work out stuff in my music. And I’m way overdue to put out new stuff. But for now I want to tell my story.”

Of all the downtown venues that she plays, Peri has chosen Pangaea to mount her show.

“Pangea is truly a special place and unlike anywhere I’ve ever hung out or played before,” she explains. “ The venue has a wonderfully warm and welcoming environment. It’s very old school and clearly a labor of love for the co-owners Stephen and Arnoldo and their staff.”

Peri promises interaction with the audience, some accompaniment from pianist Drew Blood and a few surprises.

Looking ahead, Peri mentions that she “feels like I’m evolving” and she’s looking forward to what’s next. “I feel like something good is coming,” she admits. “ I just don’t know yet what it is.”

Jana Peri is online at janaperi.com, and announces her upcoming shows on Instagram at @janaperimusic. Info for the Pangea show can be found at pangeanyc.com/show/cabaret-room-jana-peri-one-woman-is-enough-930pm-2/