Boogie for the State – Online

Here’s a behind-the-scenes of John and Mike working on a new tune for this show. Check them out along with the other great artists we’ve been missing all year at a boogie for the State Theater!

Local musicians boogie for State Theatre fundraiser

By  Parker Schug

"Boogie for the State" is the name of this year
“Boogie for the State” is the name of this year’s virtual Boogie Shakedown concert and fundraiser for the State Theatre.

The annual Boogie Shakedown celebration is typically held during a chilly Ithaca Memorial Day weekend. However, this year, Boogie Shakedown is becoming Boogie for the State, a virtual event to celebrate local music and raise money for The State Theatre of Ithaca.

The Shakedown will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and will showcase performances from over 10 local bands. Since 1998, Boogie Shakedown has been a backyard get-together for Ithaca musicians and their families. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, live performances have mostly been put on pause. The State Theatre has adapted to a virtual setting to maintain the tradition. The concert, which will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube, is free to watch, but donations will be encouraged throughout the event.

Viewers can expect performances from artists who have graced the Boogie Shakedown stage in the past, like Plastic Nebraska, Maddy Walsh & The Blind Spots, Sim Redmond Band, Johnny Dowd, Mary Lorson and Billy Cote of Madder Rose, Common Railers, The Small Kings, The Rungs, Janet Batch, The Sutras and Don Bazley and The Moles.

Brian Fiorello, manager of Plastic Nebraska, said it is important to keep the spirit of local music alive amid the pandemic.

“This area is big with original local music and music festivals, so [Boogie Shakedown] was kind of the first gathering of people, and you started to get that first taste of music and a little mini music festival,” Fiorello said.

Many in-person festivals in Ithaca last year were canceled or shifted to virtual programming because of the pandemic, including Ithaca Festival, Porchfest and the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance.

Maddy Walsh, lead singer of Maddy Walsh & The Blind Spots, said that for performers, this is an opportunity to reunite — even if it is over a screen.

“I remember when we first started playing, there were a few musicians who had babies, and now there’s this whole other part of the party,” Walsh said. “There’s a bunch of kids running around, and they all know each other from having been at this party for years and years.”

The State Theatre opened in 1928 and is located in Downtown Ithaca. It is the last historic theater in Tompkins County.

Doug Levine, executive director at the State Theatre, said many live event venues are struggling amid the pandemic. Nearly 90% of independent concert venues are at risk of closing their doors due to the pandemic, according to a June report from the National Independent Venue Association.

Boogie for the State is not the theater’s first effort to keep itself afloat. In November, the theater launched the Save Your Seat campaign. Supporters had the opportunity to purchase a customized plaque to be placed on one of the theater’s seats. With 1,600 seats in the theater, the goal was to raise $160,000 to cover the deficit from not hosting a show since March 2020. The theater also held a virtual concert as part of this effort Dec. 1. The State Theatre announced that it met its goal Dec. 30.

Prior to the pandemic, students from Ithaca College would attend concerts at local music venues like the State Theatre and The Haunt, located near the Ithaca Farmers Market. However, the local music scene has changed rapidly over the previous year. The Haunt was sold last year, and the demolition of the building began the week of Feb. 22.

Junior Brooke Bernhardt attended a Walk the Moon concert at the State Theatre in 2019 and said she would be sad if the theater had to close.

“It’s a beautiful old-fashioned theater and a nice concert space,” Bernhardt said. “I’d hate to see a space like that shut down.”

In an effort to make Boogie for the State run smoothly, each performer pre-recorded their performances. All of the performances will be edited together for the livestream.

“One thing that we learned is with true live streaming, there’s a lot of risk and a lot of stress involved because so much can go wrong, but when you have people recording them in advance, you get the good take,” Levine said. “Then you can put it all together, and the way we stream it out, we kind of ensure that it’s a smooth, good stream, so there’s no buffering, there’s no hiccups.”

Walsh said she is looking forward to not only participating in the concert but also watching other performances.

“We’re happy to submit a musical contribution from ourselves, but I love tuning into the other bands, and that’s sort of the joy of this particular festival, party, is that musicians get to watch other musicians bring their stuff to the stage,” Walsh said. “To see them and hear them again will be a total joy.”

BAND ORDER for Boogie for The State – A Virtual Shakedown!

Common Railers

Plastic Nebraska

Mike Ryan

The Rungs


The Small Kings

Janet Batch

The Don Bazley Project

Johnny Dowd Trio

The Moles

Maddy & Suave

Mary Lorson and Billy Coté

Sim Redmond Band

Velvet Sheep picks for Xmas 2020


Without further ado, it’s over to Jim for his eggnog flavoured but definitely not cheesy “Xmas song for ewe”…

“I’m a massive fan of the Xmas song and obviously being a Midlander love that golden year of 1973 when Slade and Wizzard released the two classic Christmas songs in one year! But for this year I thought what better song than Johnny Dowd with “Christmas Is Just Another Day.”

Johnny Dowd is a prolific twisted Americana songwriter from Ithaca NY. His albums veer from straight country to weird funk and residents style weirdness. His main lyrical obsessions are the usual country subjects divorce, booze and Jesus but also at least one song an album about his dislike for Christmas. (See also his mangling of Jingle Bells!) This song hits the nail on the head for Christmas haters in the way it can just remind you of missing loved ones, in this case his mum. Merry Christmas!”

And the beat goes on…

Johnny Dowd: Man Up for Xmas

Johnny Dowd has posted a video of him playing his brand new song Man Up for Xmas, giving some sound advice to Santa. This might be the definite title for the tune, but it will do nicely for now.


Pandemic Productions Presents: Johnny and Friends

Looking back, it’s been kind of amazing seeing the plethora of collaborative stuff that’s appeared online in 2020, aka the year of stay-the-hell-away-from-me. Where there’s a will there’s an app, I guess.

Hopefully you all checked out the great Hideaway video Justin Asher put together showcasing former/current/future/past/ongoing members of the Johnny Dowd Band (Mike Edmondson, Anna Coogan, Brian “Willie B” Wilson, Matthew Saccuccimorano, Kim Sherwood Caso, Michael Stark, Justin himself, and special guest talent Sally Timms). It was followed in short order by Thanksgiving Day, same crew. Which do I like better? I can’t say, but if you haven’t seen TD yet, be prepared for some wacky guitar work and music video action. No lie.

Justin tells us:

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I’ve been busy this quarantine putting together a virtual reunion with the past and present members of the Johnny Dowd Band. I spent much of the late 90s and early 00s touring and recording with them, and it’s been wonderful to reconnect and make noise together. This month we made a version of Johnny’s song “Thanksgiving Day“. May it bring you as much joy and introspection as it did for us putting it together. Check it out and spread the word. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hope y’all have a relaxing and safe holiday!
(P.S. I mixed and edited the audio as well as the video. Apparently I’m a video editor now.)


Another collaboration produced Fine Time, part of the Conductors Tale by Rik Van Iersel, with Johnny reciting his poetry to music by Senga Etna and Johnny Dowd.

Neither last nor least, Johnny and his family did what families should do, and worked together for a whole series of art projects. Continue experiencing this cornucopia with more art and music videos.
And so it goes, keeping on keeping on. Hope you are, too.

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