We are sad to report that John Braislin passed away early this morning, May 16, 2015. John had a long career in the entertainment industry, primarily in TV. In addition to folk singer, he was a camera man, a director, and a producer. Enjoy this 2006 piece on him by Carolyn Kingsnorth.
From the January 2006 Jacksonville Review:
PEOPLE IN REVIEW – TWO GUITARS AND MORE….
by Carolyn Kingsnorth
Jacksonville resident, John Braislin, will be one of two featured performers when the Friends of the Jacksonville Library host a musical start to 2006 with a new offering in the Linda Scovill Memorial Concert Series. Billed as “Two Guitars and More,” John and Ashland guitarist Keith Baldwin will share a program of folk, country, Western, and American standard tunes on Saturday, January 7, at 3 p.m. in the Naversen Room of the Jacksonville Library.
John has been playing guitar since childhood. He recalls, “When I was a kid, my uncle gave me an old guitar, and I learned to play a few chords. Then when I was 15 or 16, I heard Burl Ives. He really got me going! I got some of his recordings and those of other singers and learned more folk songs.” John played for family, friends, and dates. During World War II, he entertained wounded soldiers from the local hospital at the homes of friends.
His career really started after the war when he pledged a fraternity at UCLA. John remembers, “Every year, UCLA had this huge variety show called ‘All You Sing.’ It was a major event, with talent scouts coming from all over. My pledge master made me go audition for the show. I was petrified. However, it was one of those perfect moments, one when everything goes right. I got on “All You Sing,” and from there I got a TV show.”
The show was called “The Johnny Braislin Show,” but John dismisses his career as a professional performer. “It was in the days when very few people had TV sets. I also made a couple of forgettable records with Liberty Records and a couple of really bad movies like ‘Kentucky Jubilee.’”
At that point, John decided to change his relationship with the TV camera, moving from performer to cameraman. “I worked The Red Skelton Show for a couple of years and then The Steve Allen Show—525 ninety minute [live] shows. Then I got into television production with Sid & Marty Croft Productions (Land of the Lost, the Buggaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, HR Puffnstuff).”
Now retired after many years in the entertainment industry, John has returned to his earlier love. “I’ve always continued to perform as a hobby,” he explains, then turns reflective. “I’ve had a lot of fun over the years, and I’ve met a lot of people. But of all the things I’ve done, I think being able to play the guitar and sing has given me the most pleasure.”
Keith Baldwin echoes many of John’s sentiments. “I was going to college during the folk music scene of the 60s. I’d listen to the performers and think, ‘if they can do that, I can do that.’ I picked up a guitar, and I’ve been playing and singing ever since.” Keith performs mainly American country and Western standards with some folk mixed in.
However, Keith laughs when asked about a professional career. “You obviously don’t understand the economics of this business. Only a small number of people make a living at it. I spent 38 years with IBM.”
Keith continues, “I perform for pleasure with people in song circles. We’ll play every week or so and swap songs. I also play at the Rogue River Senior Center and with a group in Shady Cove.” Keith has played small festivals for a long time on both coasts. Washington, D.C. is a favorite venue. “There’s a group I sing with there every year. We don’t consider a session complete unless we see the sunrise—at least twice. I’ve never wanted to get paid for this—I just do it for the love of the music. Like a friend once told me, ‘if you can’t give a song away, what good is it.’”