- State News
- Gas Industry
Williamsport Singer Blair Makes Street Music
November 1, 2011
The “bicycle diaries” of a working musician, film noir, actor Clive Owen, and “the dark sacred night” are are some of the elements in I LIKE THE STREET, the title of the new recording by “Singer at Large” Johnny J. Blair.
Blair said, “These songs are more sentimental in subject than what I’ve put out in the past, with more ‘up close and personal’ dynamics. I LIKE THE STREET extends from my ‘bicycle diaries;’ life observations from riding bike on city streets for years, mainly as a messenger on the streets of San Francisco.
“Musically, I’m reaching into my Roxy Music and Velvet Underground bag of influences. I’m covering VU’s ‘What Goes On.’ Then there are acoustic and world beat interludes, doses of Latin and Tango music, and a nod to Erik Satie in the closing song ‘It’s in Your Hands,’ which I produced with glam rock-Marc Bolan overtones.”
The song “Night Garden” testifies with a psychedelic-Cuban Pop-Rock groove. “Many of my songs come from my dreams, fully arranged, and this was one. The lyrics are an open-ended story.” “Night Garden” features the trumpet and percussion of Eric Biondo (Beyondo, Burning Spear, TV On the Radio) and the piano pyrotechnics of Mike Garson (David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins).
An online single has been issued of “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen,” a tribute to the British actor and “a song about how you wear your armor and the politics of fashion,” said Blair. The song quotes “spy movie music” and Sixties British Rock, tracked with Bret Alexander and Ron Simasek of The Badlees. They previously worked with Blair on the acclaimed AFTER HOURS tribute album to Lou Reed.
Williamsport-based guitartist Tim Breon (David Rose Band, Martha Reeves) is the lead guitarist on the Bryan Ferry-influenced “Even in the Night,” a collaboration with songwriter Amy Mintzer (Word2Soul Project). The song is accompanied by a “film noir-ish” video getting a lot of plays on You Tube. The video was shot at the Community Arts Center and includes cameos by Key of V.
Other musicians on I LIKE THE STREET include Carmen Estevez (Flamenkina), Keith Kavanaugh (Ron Fleeger & the Stranger), and Felipe Torres (In Musth, The Monkees)--who works with Blair in the Davy Jones Band and The Monkees. Blair has performed and recorded with the ex-Monkee since 1993 and he was the touring bassist for the 2011 Monkees reunion tour.
Parts of I LIKE THE STREET were recorded in New York and San Francisco, but most of the work was done in Williamsport at Mind's Eye Studio under the helm of Scott Francis and Hunter Wentzler.
Urban irreverence, romantic abstraction, and bittersweet spirituality define Blair’s “sunny brand of pure pop music." His catalog includes the New Wave concept album DOOR IN THE WATER, the neo-soul masterwork FIRE , and the “PET SOUNDS meets Ziggy Stardust” of GRATEFUL. Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) called Blair “a virtuoso.”
I LIKE THE STREET is available on Amazon.com and CDbaby.com on the Wampus International label (www.wampus.com), a record company devoted to releasing recordings "off the beaten path."
For further information go to www.johnnyjblair.com.