Alternative Country, Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop
Dennis Blair is a successful musical comedian/satirist who has appeared on the Tonight Show and on HBO and has opened for and toured with such celebrities as Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason, Tom Jones, Gloria Estefan and George Carlin. Although he has enjoyed much success as a comedian specializing in song parodies as an opening act and a headliner in comedy clubs, hotel/casinos and on cruise ships, he started out his show-business career as a singer/songwriter and has always kept that fire burning.
He started writing songs in Queens, New York at the tender age of 12, both alone and with his grammar school friend John Durkin. He continued in that vein, co-writing songs with John and trying desperately to break into the music business. Together they won the Top 40 category of the American Song Festival with their song entitled “When I’m Loving You”. They also started several bands in their twenties, most notably a band called “Cottonmouth”, which included such stellar musicians as Pete Saladino on bass, Robbie Kondor on keyboards and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, who went on to become lead guitarist for Bob Dylan for many years and then to produce and perform with Levon Helm of the Band, appearing in Helm’s biographical film “Ain’t In It For My Health”.
Eventually the band split up and John and Dennis drifted apart. The music business proved a hard nut to crack. Becoming disenchanted, Dennis turned to comedy, skewering popular songs of the day with wicked parodies he would write at clubs where he was performing. This new style garnered him attention as well as laughs, and in 1979 he caught the eye of comedian Rodney Dangerfield who took Dennis on the road with him. Suddenly comedy was his new career path, and he soon found himself in demand, opening for numerous celebrities in 3000-seat theaters and also headlining comedy clubs across the US and Canada. He also wrote the movie “Easy Money” with Rodney as well as two ABC comedy Specials. He was the subject of John Canemaker’s short film, “Confessions of a Standup”, which won an emmy and is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He hooked up with Joan Rivers and Tom Jones for extended tours, until a 3-month engagement opening for George Carlin turned into a 20-year tour as George’s exclusive opening act, until his death in 2008.
Through it all Dennis never stopped writing songs, both serious and humorous, never having given up on his first artistic love. He recorded an album of songs called “I Sleep Naked in the Rain” and continued on his own to write and record the occasional song and jam with friends whenever possible . As fate would have it, after a long period of not being in touch, Dennis reunited with his old friend John Durkin, who had become a successful restaurateur and the mayor of Roslyn New York. On a whim one day, John sent Dennis some lyrics he had been working on. Dennis set them to music, a song (“Water Under the Bridge”) was born, and a songwriting partnership, as well as a friendship, was rekindled.
In the time they’ve reconnected, Dennis and John have written and recorded a plethora of songs, mostly at Bieard Music Group in Nashville TN. Although he continues his comedy performances, Dennis is once again pursuing his musical ambitions. He recently performed a sold-out concert consisting of all original Blair-Durkin tunes at Diane’s Café in Roslyn, and now appears regularly in his singer/songwriter persona at the Composer’s Showcase at the Smith Center in Las Vegas Nevada. He and John are planning performances in New York and Las Vegas and hopefully beyond. In the meantime, and in addition to all this, Dennis performs regularly with his friend and musician Kenny Davidsen on Friday nights at the Tuscany Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as guitarist, bassist and singer for the band “Kenny Davidsen and the Approximators”.
From music to comedy and now back to music. He loves doing both, and sees no need to choose one or the other.
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