The Long Haul
2015/03/02 by Blaine Schultz
As iconoclastic as his peers, the Ithaca, New York-based, Johnny Dowd plays music that might be described as Country-Western influenced gothic R&B with a seriously dark sense of humor. He may be better appreciated by fans in Europe than his own backyard – which is our loss. Consider the first time I saw him play with some Mekons in a corner bar in Milwaukee, Dowd had a iron C-clamp attached to the headstock of his Telecaster.
Also consider his new album is titled That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse.
Dowd is also matter of fact if a bit tongue in cheek. “I’m not sure I would call it a career–it’s more an all consuming hobby/vocation/calling. Ii make a record once a year–it’s a kind of snapshot of where I am at musically at that time–it’s a way of emptying the trash so I can move on to something else. If I can be home home by 9pm i will play free–after that you have to me–at this point i take what i can get.”
“I look up to anybody who is doing what they are doing just for love of it like Sun Ra or Captain Beefheart, “ he said. “The challenge is to be like the shark– keep moving and avoid the harpoon.”
While the music business has evolved to the point where most artists are forced to take the reins to keep their careers moving forward, Lee provides a sagacious mantra. Recognizing the worth of his self-optimism, he says “I’m pleased with my improvement as a musician. I’m finding it’s never too late to buckle down and learn something. My one man circus feels like it’s getting better too. I am proud of that. At this age, I’m finding it’s easier to accept this- You’ve got your good days, you’ve got your bad days and you’ve got some days you can’t even tell what the Hell it is. It’s a day though. I’ll take it. A lot of my old pals, these days, they’re not getting any days at all.”