Treasure Man

Feb 09, 2023
Web Exclusive

By Hays Davis

John Fizer may have had to wait decades for the rescue of his moldy master tapes, but the singer/songwriter’s recordings have finally reached the light. After getting his start playing in New York’s Lower East Side clubs in the ’60s, Fizer became a fixture in Berkeley, California, where he remained. While his “Trainsong” was included on the 1986 Smithsonian Folkways collection Original Folk, the masters of Fizer’s recordings were thought to be lost until they were discovered in the old Volvo where he had been living for several years.

Following restoration of the original reels and production by James Johnson, who had befriended Fizer and initially became interested in his music through old cassettes, Treasure Man (available in a limited vinyl edition of 500 as well as digitally) presents a set of 1977 studio tracks recorded with a full band in Colorado on its A side and a solo live Berkeley performance recorded in 1992 on the B side. His studio recordings play like lost gems from the early ’70s rather than ’77, with Fizer sounding comfortably indifferent at that time to current musical trends and closer in spirit to artists like Arlo Guthrie and Jerry Jeff Walker. Whether listeners perceive him today as a cosmic cowboy or an evergreen folkie, Treasure Man makes a memorable case for Fizer to finally be heard. ( /

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