Johnny’s Espresso Bio
Singer at Large and recording artist Johnny J. Blair is known for his innovative brand of “pop music with a twist,” a fast-paced mix of old school soul/rhythm and blues, psychedelia, punk/new wave, and a melodicism breathed by classical, gospel, jazz, and world beat. Goldmine Magazine said his music is “pop music with a conscience,” while Spotlight Magazine dubbed Blair “the Harry Houdini of rock and roll” for his ongoing “escape from typecasts.” Urban humor, romantic abstraction, and bittersweet spirituality are images in Blair’s lyrics. His vocabulary is influenced by the Bible, classic comedy (Charlie Chaplin, Marx Brothers), film noir, the poetry of T.S. Eliot, and the writings of Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, and John Steinbeck. Common song subjects are metropolitan allegories (“She’s Not Some Animal”), apocalyptic justice (“Throw the First Stone”), surreal road trips (“Desert Ruby”), and nutty nostalgia (“I Wanna Bein Pennsylvania”). As a solo act, Blair performs with “a vivid energy.”
Blair said, “Here’s my job description: Play songs that feed the soul and play them with passion. I hope to pass some of that on to the audience.” His typical concert set includes originals joined to wide-ranging covers, from glam rock to Motown to show tunes to spirituals. He was called “a white James Brown” by Brown’s legendary drummer, Clyde Stubblefield. Earcandy.com called him “a delightful entertainer.” Rock legend Brian Wilson called him “a virtuoso.”
For over twenty years Blair has issued acclaimed recordings—from the “new wave concept album” Door in the Water to the soulful masterwork Fire to the bare-knuckled acoustic “agitpop” of Treadmarks to the “Ziggy Stardust meets Pet Sounds of Grateful. (For a complete discography, scroll down.) Since 2003, Blair has been releasing most of his projects through Wampus Multimedia, starting with After Hours, a tribute to Lou Reed (produced with members of The Badlees), which was commended by Reed himself.
Blair has collaborated with and produced a variety of artists, including numerous projects with Davy Jones of The Monkees. (Blair plays bass in the Davy Jones touring band and has appeared with Jones on A&E, Biography Channel, and TVLand television broadcasts.) Blair said, “I’ve learned valuable stagecraft from David.”
In February 2010, Blair’s take on “Woody Guthrie’s America” was released online by progressive rock “freaky folk wildmen” Akron/Family, a project produced by Seth Olinsky with collaborators such as actress-singer Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield, Paper Heart). Blair’s 2010 recording schedule includes a new song “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen,” a collaboration with Beyondo (aka Eric Biondo), and new tracks for the Word2Soul Project, a neo-soul/gospel project with lyricist Amy Mintzer—including a music video, “Even in the Night.”
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