Janet Beveridge Bean has been writing and playing innovative music in two underground bands since the early '80s.
Eleventh Dream Day, the rock group Bean started in Chicago in 1983 with guitarist Rick Rizzo, continues to release albums of Neil Young/Velvet Underground-influenced alt-rock. But Bean's country side project, Freakwater, has garnered just as much, if not more, attention from critics recently.
Bean was born 35 years ago today in Louisville, Ky. She gigged as a drummer in her teens, when she met Rizzo, a student at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Rizzo was into punk rock but learned to play guitar by copying Neil Young records.
Five years after forming Eleventh Dream Day, Bean and Rizzo married in 1988. The band's grungy rock was augmented by the twin guitar sound provided by Rizzo and Baird Figi. EDD's music is country-tinged and Rizzo writes most of its songs. Atlantic Records was attracted to Eleventh Dream Day's 1988 indie LP, Prairie School Freakout (which supposedly was recorded in six hours), and signed the group.
The next year's Beet was the band's major label debut and was a college-radio hit. Bean wrote and sang quite a few numbers on the acclaimed 1991 Lived to Tell, but Figi soon quit and was replaced by Eleventh Dream Day roadie Matthew O'Bannon (also of Bodeco).
Because of the commercially disappointing El Moodio -- which featured a duet between Bean and Rizzo, "Makin' Like a Rug" -- Atlantic dropped Eleventh Dream Day. Bean and Rizzo took a musical hiatus and had a child. In 1994, Eleventh Dream Day issued Ursa Major, mixed by Liz Phair producer Brad Wood and recorded by Tortoise's John McEntire. O'Bannon soon left the band. EDD's most recent LP is 1997's Eighth (Thrill Jockey Records), featuring such cuts as "For a King" and "Writes a Letter Home."
Meanwhile, Bean has issued five albums with Freakwater (which also includes singer Catherine Ann Irwin and bassist Dave Gay), including their 1989 eponymous debut; 1991's Dancing Underwater, 1995's Old Paint and last year's Springtime. The latter LP is filled with Appalachian-influenced tracks like "Lorraine" and "Heaven" (RealAudio excerpt). Freakwater has covered tunes by such artists as Bill Monroe, Nick Lowe and Conway Twitty.
It's anyone's guess whether the next recorded music from Bean will come under the umbrella of Eleventh Dream Day or Freakwater.
Other birthdays: Don Wilson (Ventures), 62; Roberta Flack, 60 ... Peter Allen, 1944-1992; Cliff Burton (Metallica), 1962-1986.