Mary Reynolds and Louise Goldberg (Miss Brown To You)
Back in the early 80’s, Mary Reynolds lived in the building that is now the Blue Door. She had occasional house concerts there and she called the place Hotel Bohemia.
I remember the first time that I walked through that door over there. There are no right angles anywhere in the building. When I first walked into it there was a kind of vertiginous, dizziness that came over me. Not exactly sure where my feet were going to land. I got over it, but I just remember that feeling and also the feeling of potential, that this was a potential magic place. A feeling that I got, that would come back when we did a few music events here, a few parties. When the party was over and the evening air was just coming in and it would be quiet, I would get this feeling of magic having happened in this space. It was very compelling.
At what point does Greg Johnson come into the picture?
That was in 1983, and I was planning to move to Austin. I knew Greg when I was a musician in Norman. [His sister] said to me, “My brother is looking for a place to have music, and I hear you have this space.” So we started a conversation and I transferred my rental over to Greg. He had moved back [from Austin] and he told me he was thinking of moving to Nashville. But then he had this opportunity to do a music venue here, so he was talking about that. Michael Fracasso did a show and I was still living here. The last show I was still living here…Kevin Welch played the night before we left.
We were talking earlier about the painting on the wall back there, the two musicians. Somehow I had it in my mind that that was you…
It’s not me. The drummer is Elyse Angelo. The guitar player is Peggy Johnson. Elyse painted that.
[The Blue Door] is a refuge, in a way, for a songwriter who has something to say, has a way to say it, and is making this little thing of beauty. The world is a very, very tough place. It’s very tough out there. That’s why a place like the Blue Door is a gem. It’s just rare. Gems are valuable because they’re rare.
What Greg Johnson brings to it, besides being able to evoke with his writer sensibility the importance of a place like this, is he is just one stubborn son of a bitch. That the building is still standing in 2014 is a miracle. Also, that he is still running it and hasn’t run into the path of an oncoming train against the frustrations of the music industrial complex. I wrote him a note at the 20th anniversary, I said, “You are one stubborn son of a bitch, and I congratulate you.” Because it gets really hard, but he just keeps popping up no matter how much you knock him down.