Valentina Janie brings world-weary blues tracks to Tin Can Bar show

The blues is its own thing, an African-American musical form born of pain, sorrow and spirituality, initiated in the deep South, and spread the world-over.

Proof of the blues’ length, breadth and the universality of its emotions now comes courtesy of Philadelphia singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Valentina Janie. Within the scope of world-weary tracks released onto the audio distribution platform Bandcamp, and a playing schedule that involves monthly residencies at East Passyunk Avenue’s Flannel and a live showcase at Tin Can Bar, Janie—an Italy native—encompasses a world of hurt, heart and joy in her music.

Metro spoke with Janie in preparation for her March 17 show with her full band, and the imminent release of a self-produced, solo acoustic EP.

Why move to America in the first place?

American music has inspired me since I was very young. After a 2007 mini-tour with a band where I played drums, I decided that the U.S. was indeed the place where I wanted to grow — as a person and as an artist. So, almost-15-years-ago, I packed a couple of bags, moved across the Atlantic, and it was the best decision of my life.

Coming from Napoli to the United States, what were you inspired by?

Many artists, but my main influence was Pino Daniele, the greatest Italian blues songwriter and guitarist. That was the second concert I ever saw when I was 14-years-old. As a child I listened to what my father listened to, a lot of classic 50’s and 60’s rock n’ roll. That is where I discovered Little Richard, one of my favorite artists.

How did your musical tastes and inspirations change when you got to the U.S. permanently?

I am not going to lie, my life was turned upside down. I was very young and went from my parents’ house to another continent. I changed and grew a lot. It was very difficult at first, but, at the same time, I felt like I was finally in a place that would allow me and my music to thrive.

Tell me about coming to the blues. Why does anyone choose to sing the blues? It is a very specific music.

It is strange because I didn’t really choose it – the blues just happened. Once I started playing more lead guitar, the blues came out of me. I loved that sound because it is so expressive. My love for Janis Joplin contributed too, but I sure do love its guitars.

Of all your songs on Bandcamp, I know ‘Isolation Blues’ was written while in quarantine, but I sense a theme running through all of the tracks. How would you describe the arc of your lyrics? 

I let my demons out. At times I don’t even realize what a song is about until much later and its’ meaning suddenly becomes clear. My darkest fears and deepest feelings come to life and they become more bearable. My lyrics are vulnerable and reveal fragility, for the most part.

Your attraction to Bandcamp – why use this service in which to release your music?

Bandcamp makes it easy for artists to share their music, and it can be uploaded in real time without distribution, unlike streaming platforms. It is free, and it allows artists to sell their music and merch, which was a lifesaver for many during the pandemic.

What can you say about your connection to Philadelphia’s live music scene? You seem attracted to rooms off-the-beaten track such as Flannel and Tin Hat.

Philly is amazing and has given me so much. I met some of my closest friends at indie shows. You can find so much beautiful music everywhere, from a friend’s basement to the Kimmel Center. There is so much happening, and I love being able to show up at a random jam session on a Monday night and play.

Defining without confining — who is Valentina Janie that Valentina Virgilio, your real name, isn’t?

Valentina Janie is more vulnerable, but for the most part I think they are very much alike. They’re both very blunt and loud, and they both move their hands a lot when they speak.

Valentina Janie will perform at Tin Can Bar (2537 E. Somerset Street) on Friday, March 17; and also has a monthly residency at East Passyunk Avenue’s Flannel. To hear Valentina Janie’s music, visit

A.D. Amorosi

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