We met “singer at large” Johnny J Blair seven years ago when we produced his live-in-studio record, Treadmarks. The passion, commitment, and standard of performance he brought to that session were unforgettable. Treadmarks went on to bend ears, garnering comparisons from Amplifier magazine to Steve Forbert, John Wesley Harding, and Billy Bragg.
One of the record’s best songs was a splashy toe-tapper called “I Like the Street.” It was about a world that contained every conceivable kind of person — “the grifters and the starstruck / the poets and the punks / the PhDs, the jailbirds / the models and the drunks.” In this lyrical sketch, Blair said more in four minutes than some novelists say in 400 pages.
Before long he decided to expand the song into a full-blown album, I Like the Street. The characters, streetscapes, and spiritual quandaries proliferated, and rendered a familiar world in three dimensions.
Thanks, Johnny, for disregarding every story except the one you had to tell.