By Lindsay Toler
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In the flush '90s, she provided musicians with jobs at the Rock Star warehouse -- alumni include Hermes, Noon, the Spiders' Zach Chasnoff, Pave the Rocket's Mike Belfield, Sicbay's Dave Erb and Greg Silsby of Cumberland Gap. And she continues to offer her wardrobe services to local rockers in need of a stylishly earthy look for a photo shoot or tour.
"Adam [Reichmann] and Steve [Rauner] met her hanging out in Cicero's basement," says Nadine manager Jeff Jarrett, describing the band's first encounter with Johnson several years ago. "She invited me and the band into the warehouse. We'd just go in with a trash bag and get as many clothes as we could. It was just a bunch of our friends, a lot of people from Undertow [Records].
"Deb has so much cool stuff in her warehouse," Jarrett goes on. "She's always been very helpful in terms of suggesting what to wear onstage. Deb's the kind of person, if you see her at the Rocket Bar or Hi-Pointe, she always knows everybody who's there. You're kind of drawn to her. That sort of personality really helps her get a huge number of people into the sale and warehouse."
Back at Parodi's bar, where four gentlemen are seated, a paper sign reads, "If you came in here to bitch, you've just wasted 98% of your time. I suggest you use the other 2% to find the door." Above it hangs a hockey stick covered with dangling women's underwear.
More pitchers are summoned -- they've lost count -- and Johnson tells of her experience outfitting Lucinda Williams for a local gig. Johnson asked the alt-country goddess why designers weren't clamoring to shower her with free duds.
She mimics Williams' deadpan reply: "'Honey, I'm not Jewel.'"
But then, if she were, Johnson probably wouldn't buzz her in. ¡Viva la rock!