Johnny Dowd Excorcises the Devil with a Rythmbox
23 april 2015, Paradiso, Amsterdam
Author: Jaks Schuit
Published: 26 April 2015
Three minutes before the start of his show Johnny Dowd walks on to the stage. He chats a little with a few people in the audience and plugs in his guitar. Dowd had already been accused of killing American folk Music long before the release of his most recent album, That’s Your Wife on the Back of my Horse. It is what he enjoys doing, he downplays his own achievements and always succeeds in entertaining his audience.
Dowd opens his lyrics notebook and takes off with the title song of his fourteenth and latest album. During the next song Dowd’s companion guitar player breaks one of his strings. Mike Edmondson has to return to the dressing room to repair the damage. Dowd turns on a rhythm box and continues the show by himself. He requests the audience to assist him. ‘Holland has the best singers’, he says.
He starts the chorus of ‘John Deer Yeller’ and asks the audience to sing along with the line ‘Gonna love that girl, till the day I die’. When they start Dowd calls the singers ‘a choir of angels’ and he joins with the first verse. The song is concluded with a guitar solo that could have been the assignment for a very young student at his first music class. Dowd’s way of playing the guitar seems surprisingly simple, but always sounds just right. In addition he has the pleasant ability to sing a few false notes at exactly the right moment.
In the meantime his companion Mike returns to the stage and decides to take a break after a job done. Dowd puts down his guitar and recites the song ‘Drip Drop’. Each verse finishes with the beautiful sentence: ‘That was long ago / That was yesterday.’
After each song Dowd chats a little and and manages to keep the audience entertained continuously . He makes a few dance steps and gives companion Mike another break. After approximately sixty minutes Dowd starts a christmas song. After ‘XMAS’ he stands up, thanks his parents, the audience, Mike and Prince. ‘Still one of the best artists on guitar’, he says. And announces his encore ‘Smile’ by Charlie Chaplin rightaway.
Dowd concludes his show in the same way he started it. He shakes a few hands and waves at the audience. Dowd is not a musician for a perfect show, but with a rhythm box and a fellow musician he is capable of entertaining any audience for over an hour. He is mocking everybody and mostly himself in the process. For his last album he wrote ‘The Devil Don’t Bother Me’, a song that fits him like a glove. Nobody is calling the shots but Dowd. Let’s hope this will be the case for years to come.
-Translated by Wieke Wagenaar (saving us from Google translate!)