Greg Johnson can be brutally frank when sizing up musicians because he's seen so many walk through the front door of his concert venue, The Blue Door. It wasn't long after he first laid his ears on 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist John Fullbright that he signed on as the singer/songwriter's manager and agreed to release "Live at the Blue Door" to introduce the musician to the world.
"I've found the next great American songwriter," Johnson said.
Spending equal time belting out blues, folk, blue-eyed soul and even verging on gypsy jazz, Fullbright blends "Moondance"-era Van Morrison soulfulness with Billy Joel's knack for pitch-perfect pop composition.
The playful and funky "All the Time in the World" is dangerously addictive and its Okla-centric lyrics are likely to be doomed to over-saturation on local radio waves, but that shouldn't diminish Fullbright as a razor-sharp songwriter.
"I don't have a clear approach to the songs I write; I just want the melody to be original and the words to be lasting. As long as I have those two things, then I don't really worry about the rest," he said.
"Live at the Blue Door" is all about guitar and harmonica, but Johnson said future recordings will highlight Fullbright's sizable skills behind a keyboard. He added that a growing number of industry-based true believers are starting to rally around Fullbright, but are careful not to saddle him with any guilt by association.
"There are two rules we have when talking about John," Johnson said. "First is we are not going to call him a 'red-dirt' artist, and second, we aren't going to call him an 'Americana' artist. He can walk in those worlds pretty easily, but there is a vastness to his music that I haven't seen in a long time from anyone."
Fullbright admitted having a longtime venue owner as a manager has its benefits.
"I get to open a lot of shows," he said with a laugh. "Just look at the schedule. I'm sure everybody hates me by now, because I open just about every show here." "Charles Martin