Mike Blair
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Mike Blair

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"Mike Blair Burning Down Rome Review"

Mike Blair has a way with the audience, a calm and easy going style of singing and talking to people that sounds uncannily natural and trouble-free for the singer-guitarist. He does what few singers do between songs – he talks to people, tells stories between the musical ones. On Burning Down Rome, an album recorded live with The Silvermoon Orchestra at Worshipfest Greenville, Blair plays acoustic guitar and sings on nine songs that showcase his warm and tender singing abilities.
What begins seemingly as a simple live album becomes an emotional affair, specifically around the time he plays ‘Carnival’, a song he tells listeners was crafted while on a road trip stuck in a car for eight hours. His road buddy was missing his wife and Blair viewed a carnival outside the vehicle. It’s an elegant song, haunting and cozy simultaneously. ‘Cry’ follows the tempo with starker results, with gallows pole vocal cries and western era guitar melodies.
Blair’s playing is sturdy, backed by a band that learned the soulful and transcendent ‘Crystal and Coal’ about twenty minutes before the actual performance began. ‘Miriam’s Song’ is both funky and reflective as Blair sings, She was the love I lost as easy as the water flows. On ‘To My June Carter’, he pays tribute to the love between June Johnny Cash and lent added texture by Blair’s harmonica.
Blair’s performance is reserved and inviting, like older James Taylor. Melodious as he is funky, Blair’s sound and delivery is all encompassing, working melody and warmth into songs that are as relatable as they are inspiring.
- Bootleg Magazine


"Mike Blair"

When Mike Blair was in high school, he interviewed singer/songwriter Livingston Taylor for his senior project. And to this day, he considers something Mr. Taylor said to him the best advice he’s ever been given about performing. “It was to watch my audience and never close your eyes,” he recalls. “If you eyes aren’t open, then you’re not connecting – you’re just simply singing a song. He told me to watch people receive your song and it will let them know that you are putting your heart and soul into the endeavor.” Blair, a native Wilmingtonian and a modern day troubadour, has been connecting with audience and himself ever since.

Like many musicians, Blair’s introduction to the life of song had innocent beginnings. He recalls his sister, Sarah, introduced the guitar into the family, but lost interest, so he started playing around with it. “I learned the basics from my praise and worship teacher, Scott Hobbs,” he states. “Once my folks saw that I was becoming serious, my dad fixed up his old Martin guitar, and I began playing it.” At that point, Mike was learning praise and worship songs, but was open to find and learn as much music as he could. Then one day perusing through his Dad’s CD collection, he discovered James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, and upon listening, it “blew my mind.” As a result, Blair began to immerse himself into the whole 70’s singer/songwriter scene. He continues, “Crosby, Still and Nash, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan – that vibe. My dad bought Woodstock on DVD. I was mesmerized and watched it over and over.” Then one afternoon, after watching it, Blair picked up the guitar, started to strum, and wrote his first song at the age of fourteen.
Since that day, songwriting has represented many things to Blair. Sure, it’s about a sense of connection to others, but it also opened up an awareness of his individuality. “I think what attracted me to writing songs was the control that it offered. It was only me writing these things. It wasn’t my family or my friends; I was saying what I wanted to say. Songwriting was really my first form of expression,” he confesses. But as it developed, Blair’s songwriting also became a vital form of communication for him. He explains, “I write because it is my way of trying to connect with people. Perhaps I’m inept in the conventional ways people relate. Songs provide only a few minutes to say something and you have to be able to say exactly what you mean in that length of time. Many times, it seems I get caught with my foot in my mouth without my guitar. Whether it is ‘I love you’ or ‘I don’t get this’ or whatever, it is my attempt to be honest with myself and others.”
Nowadays, Blair continues to write and perform his songs. He admits that “music will always be in the cards for me, but I realize not to simply depend on just that.” As a student at UNCW, Blair juggles the academic life with performing up and down the East Coast. “I love playing my songs for people. The idea that someone can relate to something in one of my songs and we don’t even know each other is very cool. My goal is to be as authentic as possible. And this isn’t just a music goal but a life goal. I want people to be able to know e and feel like they are part of my music.”
I think Livingston would be proud!
- The Beat magazine


Discography

Mike Blair- 4 song EP *out of print* (2002)
Mike Blair: Live & Alone *out of print* (2003)
Mike Blair & The Silvermoon Orchestra *out of print* (2005)
Mike Blair with The Silvermoon Orchestra "Burning Down Rome (Sept. 2007)

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Bio

Mike Blair has performed his original material in and around southeast North Carolina for the last four years. He has played a variety of gigs which include coffeehouses, festivals, retreats, and the occasional cook-out. His influences range from James Taylor to BB. King, John Mayer to Dave Matthews, and Ray Charles to Nickel Creek. Mike does not wish to be boxed in by one certain type of music. Mike bases his shows and songs off relationships. He loves entertaining an audience and meeting them where they are. Mike believes if he can help his audience for an hour or so take their minds off their problems and simply enjoy themselves that he's done a good job.