Family Picnic, Sister Style

JDF is always up up for any article even peripherally related to Johnny Dowd, but this one, I think, qualifies as VERY related! And Marjorie, we’ll take you up on that Johnny interview… – Ed.

Jyl Dowd: Radiantly unconventional and devoted

By Marjorie Olds | on October 14, 2020By Marjorie Olds

Emily Dowd (left) stands with her mother, Jyl Dowd, events coordinator for the Cancer Resource Center. Photo by Emily Dowd.

Practically a townie, Jyl Dowd has called Ithaca home since she was 6 years old. After her parents divorced, Jyl, her mother and the two next oldest siblings journeyed from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, to Memphis, Tennessee, and then to Ithaca (a move brought on by one of the two oldest siblings, who was attending Cornell University at the time).

Jyl remembers a lively, free-spirited, loving family life growing up. Graduating from East Hill Elementary School, under the tutelage of Principal Dan Lee (“Gentle Giant”), Jyl next attended the fledgling, short-lived New Junior High Program (NJHP), housed in the old Markles Flats building (at Court and Plain streets prior to demolition) and became one of 12 in the first graduating class of the Alternative Community High School (ACHS) in 1979. (NJHP and ACHS merged into what is now LACS, the school Jyl’s children later attended.)

Jyl’s mother, Virginia “Jinx” Dowd, founded the Labor Action Coalition, along with Dan Leahy, as part of the Cornell Human Affairs Program. Many of Jyl’s earliest memories are of being hauled out of the draft board during the “Mothers and Daughters Against the Vietnam War” sit-in, handing out flyers to future Cornell graduates to encourage them not to buy their gowns from child labor factories and protesting against nuclear power.

There were also many nights spent at school board meetings, as Jinx was very involved in the early stages of bringing alternative education to the Ithaca area with her good friends Leslie Puryear, Betty Halton and Teresa Grady.

After graduation, Jyl ventured out to Colorado, where she obtained her degree in nursing, only to return to Ithaca, her family and the network of progressives with whom her family lived, worked and celebrated.

“Once my biological clock started ticking, I knew the only place I would want to raise a child was Ithaca,” Jyl said.

Jyl’s daughter Emily now lives in New Orleans, but they visit each other often.

Upon return to Ithaca, Jyl devoted the next 13 years to working for HOMES, Inc., providing inclusive, integrated care for the mental health community managing the group home Evergreen, founded by Ron Mack.

After Lakeview Mental Health took over, the emphasis on integrating the residents into the community diminished and became more custodial, so Jyl resigned to stay home to take care of her mother and her new blended family (Gregar Brous and his three children). Though the two split up 15 years ago, the families remain close.

Some of Jyl’s fondest memories are of the time she spent as a groupie for her family’s band Neon Baptist, hosting “Melrose” parties with her friends of 25-plus years, lots of traveling with and without the kids, and attending every dance recital, play, concert and sporting events the children and their friends participated in.

Anyone who has ever attended one of Jerry Dietz’-Gregar Brous’ Taste of the Nation or AIDS RIDE feast in Stewart Park, the Just Be Cause Party or Cornbread for Kids will recognize Jyl Dowd. Community is part of her DNA, and organizing volunteers is one of her favorite pastimes, as anyone who has been recruited to work at one of her events can attest.

For the past 14 years, Jyl has served at the Cancer Resource Center (previously the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance) as the event coordinator. Many residents are touched by loved ones facing cancer, and the Center offers a wide array of services for those people.

“Whatever people need, we will try to provide,” Jyl said. “We offer support groups, peer-to-peer support, wellness activities, educational services, financial advocacy and a boutique with free head coverings and comfort bags.”

CRC also recruits, trains and supervises volunteers in the Cancer Services Department at Cayuga Medical Center to keep patients company while they are getting treatment and to bring them snacks.

Though affected by COVID-19, people are reassured they can call or email and arrange access to services. While Executive Director Marilee Murphy and Jyl are the only full-time staff, along with three part-time colleagues and a sizable group of amazing volunteers, they are able to continue to provide all of their services free of charge.

When I asked Jyl when she last visited the Boulder area, she told of taking a former resident who lived in the Lakeview Mental Health building on Cascadilla Street. Jyl casually mentioned that this former client now resides happily at Old 100, where he is encouraged to be an active member of the community and is very happy and well-loved.

Keep an eye out and you’ll see Jyl on her bike, living and pedaling around town. Fingers crossed that her older brother Johnny Dowd will read this, and we will get his take on local life soon.

The Cancer Resource Center is located at 612 W. State St. in Ithaca. For more information on the services offered, call (607) 277-0960 or email

– TompkinsWeekly

Hideaway Video Release


Take that, Pandemic Hell! Thanks to the wizardry of Justin Asher, Johnny has several of his band iterations getting together for a kind of quarantine version of the Last Waltz finale…except it’s not going to be a finale. Hold your breath till Thanksgiving, unless you’re busy screaming.

Hello good people.

Hard times and more coming. About all we can do is take it day at time. 

Something that really gave me a lift was the virtual reunion of my band: Justin Asher, Brian Wilson, Kim Sherwood-Caso, Anna Coogan, Mike Edmondson, Mike Stark, and honorary member, Sally Timms. We recorded “Hideaway,” which is about my mother. Lyrics by me and music by Brian. 

The project was Justin’s idea, and he organized and produced the whole thing — did all the audio engineering and created the video above.

It was so much fun, we’re doing another song, “Thanksgiving Day,” which should be done by Thanksgiving.

I’m still writing and recording. At this point, I’ve got more in the vault than Prince!

Stay safe, stay in touch, and see you down the the road.

— Johnny


Johnny Dowd Band eenmalig terug samen

Of hoe corona dan toch ook positieve dingen kan veroorzaken.

Ok, het was virtueel, maar Justin Asher, Brian Wilson, Kim Sherwood-Caso, Anna Coogan, Mike Edmondson, Mike Stark en erelid Sally Timms, ooit de band van Johnny Dowd werden eenmalig verenigd en namen zo Hideaway (zie hieronder) op, een song over Dowds moeder op muziek van Brian Wilson. Het project was een idee van Justin Asher, die alles regelde en produceerde inclusief de clip. 

En Johnny Dowd liet al weten dat hij nog van alles achter de hand heeft: “I’ve got more in the vault than Prince!'” oktober 2020Patrick Van Gestel© 2004-2020 daMusic – Alle rechten voorbehouden.
daMusic is niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van de externe websites.

                                                                                                                – Da Music

Johnny Dowd: virtual band reunion for “Hideaway” video

Former Johnny Dowd band member Justin Asher got in touch with other musicians who have played with this musical maverick over the years. The virtual band reunion led to a video of them recording of Hideaway, a song from the Temporary Shelter album.

                                                                                                                 – HCTF

Johnnys at the Mic

John’s making the switch to online, and one wonders if he’ll ever go back… He was part of a John Prine tribute recently, and has been posting tunes on Facebook pretty regularly, keeping our spirits up in a life sucks but what can you do kind of way. Hunt those Facebook posts down, or may be they’ll show up on this YouTube channel-they are pretty awesome.

I’ve also heard there might be a collaborative project in the works. And then there’s all the drawing-yeah, you got it, the visual arts. Bet he’d sell you some if you asked…

Stay safe everybody!


The Falcon and a Secret Show by the skin of their teeth


Whoa, just made it to these shows before NYS shutdown. None of us got sick afterwards, and we hope no one who came to the shows did, either. The rest of the house party tour got cancelled, and a couple of art shows in the making put on hold. May both these venues are up and running safely soon, because they were both most fun hangs.

The Falcon on March 6 was a major revelation. How did we not know about a venue as magnificent as this, and an owner/soundman as interesting as Tony Falco? Not only did Tony and his superhero wife (she’s a teacher) put us up, but he walked us through, yes, fixing another tour flat tire.

First off: location location location.

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The inimitable George Spafford opened for Johnny and Mike.







Next on March 7, skidding into MA broadside in a cloud of smoke, was what turned out to be the last show of the shortened tour. The Super Secret One that must have somehow leaked out, because not only packed house, but Brian and Kim!

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(Swag mucho appreciated, Jim!)


So sorry Lucky Penny and Roadmaster Stage. We missed you guys! If John comes your way someday, here’s my fav sign ever by the fans in MA-feel free to use!:



Live @ Super Secret Show Haverhill MA

Johnny Dowd: house concert in Haverhill, MA


Hans Werksman

Live in vicinity of Haverhill, MA? On March 7 Americana outsider Johnny Dowd plays an intimate show in someone’s house. Inquiries via email. with any luck he might play some of the stuff he is working on for his next album.

Live dates:

  • 03/06 Marlboro, NY @ The Falcon & The Falcon Underground
  • 03/07 Haverhill, MA @ house concert


HCTF review of Family Picnic.

Johnny Dowd: working on a new album


photo: Andy Muscroft

Johnny Dowd is messng around in the studio, reinventing himself again for his next album, the follow-up for Family Picni. Technology and rock ‘will meet and weird and wonderful things could happen as part of the process:

Working on some new stuff — going in a whole new direction. Samples and heavy drum machine. Somewhere between brilliant and total self-indulgence. At the same time, I’m working with buddy Mike Edmondson on some straight-up rock songs. Can I put the two together? My point is, I’m still cranking it and chasing the dream — or my own ass. Whichever comes first.

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