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Catching Up With Recording Artist/Songwriter Johnny St. Clair
By Cindy Beth Gordon
(more articles from this author)
2004-01-06
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I recently spoke with Recording Artist/Songwriter Johnny St. Clair. Johnny appeared at Fanfare and at the Country Radio Seminar this year. ( www.johnnystclair.com ) Johnny is busy promoting his latest single, "Haggard & Jones," from his CD Fixit Man. The song is currently sitting at #12 on the Texas Music Charts and Johnny is at the brink of the Top 10. With a great music video behind the video, this song should continue to climb the charts.

A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Johnny is a father of three to Stephen, Jacob and Stephanie. Johnny began playing the mandolin at age six. Buying his first guitar several years later, he began devouring a steady musical diet of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Farron Young, and George Jones, falling in love with the long-established style of country music that continues to influence him today.

Johnny first took to the stage at age 14 as part of a band that played proms and dances and then went on to a gig as a bass player in a bluegrass band, The Hill City Cut Ups," which became a mainstay on the North Carolina concert circuit. Stints as a solo act, featured in the major hotels of North Carolina, helped him develop and refine his rich baritone voice and helped in the formation of his band, Western Star, in 1987. It gave him the experience of playing nightclubs and honky-tonks from Florida to Maryland.

He opened for roots vocalist Keith Whitley, and for Grand Ole Opry and Hall of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens. Johnny became a key player as front man and master of ceremonies at the local "Old Dominion Opry." It served to showcase his talent and brought him to the attention of executives for the Busch and Budweiser Resorts. St. Clair became a fulltime performer for the Busch family's resorts and spent eight years with their corporate promotions.

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With his CD, Fixit Man, Johnny effectively evokes memories of country music's stellar past. From the title cut, "Fixit Man," inspired by a buddy trying to impress a woman in a bar, to "Holding onto Nothing," which focuses on a long-term relationship which neither party will accept is over to "Don't Throw Stones," about two sets of cheating couples, St. Clair confronts life issues that only country music can address so well.

Johnny St. Clair offers a refreshing combination of affable stage presence underscored by Marlboro Man good looks and skillful musicianship that brings everyday-man songs to life. As Johnny says, "Hopefully, someone will hear a song or two that they can relate too. That connection is what I strive for and what country music has stood for since the beginning."

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Johnny. It's great to talk to you. So what have you been up to lately?

Johnny St. Clair We've been doing a radio promotional tour for the single that we released off the CD Fixit man project. The single is called "Holding Onto Nothing." It did well. I made a lot of friends. It was a nice experience.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] What inspired that song?

Johnny St. Clair I had been in a relationship for quite some time, and with kids sometimes your life gets so busy with everything else you forget the little important things. I think that's where it originally came from. It was originally written as a ballad, but after a few years it evolved into this swing tune, which was kind of cool the way it came to be.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] So you've been working a lot in Texas promoting that song?

Johnny St. Clair Yes. We probably did 160 stations in about a 6-month period, back and forth and played some festivals in different towns. This trip was a real nice experience. We made a lot of friends and met a lot of really neat people.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Did you play with a band or on your own?

Johnny St. Clair This time I did a solo act which I do a lot in the East Coast. I'll take bass pedals, play guitar and sing - there's a lot going on but it sounds really neat. For the smaller clubs, it works real well.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] What inspired you to become a performer and songwriter?

Johnny St. Clair When I was 5 or 6 years old, I had a guitar but I wasn't really big enough to play it, so my Dad bought me a mandolin. One of his close cousins taught me to play it. A lot of my dad's family played and they would come to the farm on the weekends and camp out. It was an every weekend thing when the weather was warm enough to do it.

My dad also brought me to Nashville. He was probably laying the groundwork for opportunities - as a kid you don't realize that. One of my greatest childhood memories is going to the Grand Ole Opry. During visits to Nashville, my family and I would go to Ernest Tubb's Record Store and watch the live bands and somehow, I just knew that I wanted to do that too.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Johnny St. Clair I'm just amazed to have gotten to this point with this. It was the coolest thing recently working with Billy and John Northrup and Ken Mellons, too. It's real cool to venture into this thing and get to this level and end up working with people that you've been fans of. It's really rewarding. If we never go any further than we are here, it's worth it and it's been great. I'm thankful - just glad to be here!

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Thanks, Johnny. I wish you the best of luck with your Fixit Man CD and the current single, "Haggard & Jones," off that CD.

Johnny St. Clair Thanks, Cindy.

For more information on Johnny St. Clair, contact Publicist John Clore at PLA Media (615) 327-0100 www.plamedia.com.


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