SNAPSHOTS: LIVE & HALF​-​PLUGGED Expanded Reissue

by Johnny J Blair "Singer at Large"

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about

SNAPSHOTS: LIVE AND HALF-UNPLUGGED STUDIO RECORDINGS--originally released 2002, and reissued in 2010 w/bonus concert footage from California, Michigan, & Pennsylvania.

After two highly-produced recordings (FIRE and EXOTIC ANIMALS), Blair took a more acoustic tack with SNAPSHOTS, mixing solo concert footage with semi-unplugged studio takes, in a set that includes some of Blair's most popular originals with highly-stylized covers of songs by Buffalo Springfield, Donovan, Sly & the Family Stone, and Patti Smith. Guest musicians include Bennett Green (Greg Kihn, Peter Tork), noted film composer Richard Marriott (Club Foot Orchestra, www.richardmarriott.com), & Kim Osterwalder (Barbara Manning, Julie Miller, Smog).

(Original 2002 news release): Cappuccino, novelists, and the Beach Boys' "American Gothic" period fuel the latest sounds of Johnny J. Blair. Also known as the "Singer at Large," he just released "Snapshots," a collection of acoustic-oriented songs recorded live in concert, in the studio, in loft space rehearsals, and on television broadcasts, from California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The high-spirited singer-songwriter has also been called "The Tasmanian Devil of the coffee house set." Goldmine magazine said, "(Blair) delivers pop music with a conscience, framed by jazz, punk and techno."

"I've always been a fan of 'big production,' but a part of my audience kept asking me to go organic," says Blair. On "Snapshots," he "goes semi-unplugged," drawing from blues ("I'm a Jerk"), old school pop/rock and gospel standards ("Workin' on a Building").

"Snapshots" culls from concerts and sessions tracked in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Live cuts include an energetic cover of "Dancing Barefoot" (Patti Smith) and a neo-prophetic, Staples Singers-styled remake of Stephen Stills' "For What it's Worth," performed on slide 12-string guitar.

Novelists are outsourced for Blair's ideas, heard in the Beatle-esque "Unresolved (Graham Greene's Script for Laurel and Hardy)" and "Steinbeck Found the Valley," an instrumental featuring accordion, cellos, piano and trombones. "Desert Ruby" is a semi-autobiographical "Los Angeles allegory," with images from The Bible, Raymond Chandler and T.S. Eliot.

"I'm Too Ugly for CCM, Too Stupid for TBN" is already getting attention as a satire of contemporary Christian media. Blair asks, "If Jesus were around today, would He tolerate this much image over substance?"

Blair is based in Williamsport PA but has lived all over the United States. His movements includes a five year stretch as a bike messenger in San Francisco. These "street experiences" provided material for songs about baptism, bus stops, coffee drinking, hope, love, smiling, racial harmony and religious hypocrisy.

"Snapshots" and Blair's previous recordings, "Fire" and "Exotic Animals & Beaches of Pennsylvania," are offerings from Fire Inside Productions, a musical partnership with Davy Jones (of The Monkees), with whom Blair records and performs with.

Blair says, "Here's my job--do music that picks people up and do it with conviction." He has shared the stage with Blessid Union of Souls, Jerry Garcia Band, Buddy & Julie Miller and others. His admirers include surf-guitar hero Dick Dale, Brit-pop legend Cliff Richard and Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), who called Blair "a virtuoso."

Review excerpt from Webb Weekly (Williamsport PA, 10/29/03): "There is a lot of music on this CD. Blair...covers a series of genres including blues, pop, jazz, and even more...overall, it is a solid effort...'Weirder Than Money' has a cool Barenaked Ladies-esque quality to it...(with) 'For What it's Worth,' Blair has taken this Buffalo Springfield classic and made it his own. It is an awesome take on an awesome song that could use another round in the spotlight."

Notes on the bonus material: These concert tracks were considered for the CD but were set aside because it would've made the CD too long. Enjoy them as a glimpse of my journey. Thanks for listening! --JJB

credits

released September 11, 2003

MUSICIAN CREDITS:
Cassie Blair: harmony vocals
Johnny J. Blair: accordion, bass, banjo, guitars, keyboards, percussion, violins, lead & harmony vocals
Bennett Green: bongos
Richard Marriott: trombones
Kim Osterwalder: cellos
Bridget Purifoy: harmony vocals
Steve Reid: interviewer
KR Spyker a.k.a. evinrude: percussion & harmony vocals

SNAPSHOTS was produced by Johnny J. Blair. Live recordings were made on camcorders, portastudios, & other contraptions by Jon Beckman, the late Aaron Gregory, Michael Ickes, & Steve Reid. Studio recordings mixed by Tim Breon, Erik Nielsen, & Greg Sostrom.

Technical note from the original release: "...Source material wasn't always optimal. Audio anomolies (audience chats, espresso machines, etc.) cannot be removed from the live recordings. It is my hope that these 'flaws' are not a distraction and, instead, add charm and context to the songs."

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about

Johnny J Blair "Singer at Large" San Francisco, California

"Singer at Large" 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.” ... more

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Track Name: Desert Ruby (TV broadcast 8/01)
http://www.johnnyjblair.com/?page_id=834
Track Name: Weirder Than Money (live 10/90)
Verse 1:
Burnt toast buildings stacked on vacancy crimes
When family men can't make the rent they wanna blow it on the wine
Blown out on the wine, get blown out on the fields
How much tragedy till someone gonna yield

Chorus:
Don'tcha know that the things you say
Can be held against you in a different closer day
You'd better not stray when a stranger calls you honey
Cuz power like that is weirder than money

Verse 2:
She'll be riding six white horses when she comes
Lecturing about her past lives, she calls her ex-husband scum
Dancing up the best-sellers list, her book is nearly number one
Funny how enlightenment books consign humanity to classes and rungs
But I still have my lungs

(repeat chorus)

Verse 3:
Supercalifragilisticultrahyperfundamentalist who forgot the basics
I'm torn between the media distortions and the extremists
Quite a show, pounding that book with your fist
Did you really think that you could tie God's wrists?

(repeat chorus)
Outro: AM and FM and AP and UPI
How much of this make you raise your hand up to the sky?
Track Name: I'm Too Ugly for CCM, Too Stupid for TBN (Church Basement Mix)
TOO UGLY FOR CCM, TOO STUPID FOR TBN by JJ Blair copyright 2002

Chorus:
I’m too ugly for CCM
I’m too stupid for TBN
I ask too many questions and I don’t fit in
All that’s left is say Amen! (Amen)

Verse:
I turn on the radio to hear a little soul
But all I get is a milky scroll
Playlisting salt-free spiritual schtick
I’m too unrefined for your satellite clique
I go to the bookstore to get Beatitudes
But the shelves are full of cute platitudes
Seeking sanctuary away from payola
I ran into a church but it seemed like a casino

Refrain:
You say you don’t care about doctrine at all
Jesus hangs next to you on the wall
As your congregation scurries and shouts
Which Jesus are you singing about?

Chorus 2:
I’m too ugly for CCM
I’m too stupid for TBN
I don’t look like a model and I don’t fit in
All that’s left is say Amen! (Amen)

Verse:
They got thousands of members and 50 million watts
Dropping their tithes like playing the slots
Using Bible words with just enough twist
Give more and God owes you a blessing fix
This gospel is New Age syncretistic
Pass the cash and apply more lipstick
I might be picky, take too many pains
But when did God give us air for brains?

Refrain 2 :
You say you don’t care about doctrine at all
Jesus hangs next to you on the wall
As your congregation scurries and shouts
Which Jesus are you singing about?

Chorus 2:
I’m too ugly for CCM
I’m too stupid for TBN
I read too much and I don’t fit in
All that’s left is say Amen! (Amen)

Verse:
Paul told the Romans leave the world behind
To be transformed and have a testing mind
We have the Holy Book that tells us how
To tell a true prophet from a sacred cow
Your Man of God is beyond reproach
I see Christian bodyguards lining his coach
Modern mega-church it just gives me the willies
I’m just too dum to get these new prophecies

2nd Refrain:
The prophets said the troubles
Come from blowing bubbles
With an illiterate brood
A healing mesmerist
Gives us experience
But what about the truth?

Chorus 3:
I’m too ugly for CCM
I’m too stupid for TBN
I care too much and I don’t fit in
All that’s left is say Amen! (Amen)
All that’s left is say Amen!
Track Name: One Planet One Utopia One Helmet (live 10/90)
http://www.johnnyjblair.com/?page_id=839