Real Roots reviews Family Picnic

Johnny Dowd
Family Picnic

De in Fort Worth, Texas geboren Johnny Dowd is van 29 maart 1948. De Amerikaan debuteert in 1997 met Wrong Side Of Memphis. Family Picnic is het zeventiende (!) album van Dowd. Naast vijf live platen is er in 2006 Hellwood, de samenwerking met Jim White en Brian Wilson voor de langspeler Chainsaw Of Life. Voor Family Picnic schreef de Texaan veertien nummers.

Voor het schrijven van zijn nummers gebruikt Dowd vooral een ritmebox. Hij vindt een ritme en schrijft zijn meestentijds rijmende zinnen. Het zijn verhalen uit het familieleven. Onduidelijk is of het gezinsleven van Dowd deze anekdotes oplevert. In titelnummer ‘Family Picnic’ levert het de volgende observaties op.

Every year there’s a family picnic
And folks come from miles around
Mom buys fried chicken on the outskirts of town
Little sister makes a salad
Big sister waits fior a call
Brother John’s in the bathroomLord, he’s climbing the walls
How much emptyness can you swallow?
Would a sixpack get’s you through?
Would it take a quart of whiskey to drive away your blues?

Simpele zinnen, Vocaal wordt Dowd geholpen door zangeres Kim Sherwood-Caso, gitarist Michael Edmondson siert het nummer met functioneel spel. Dowd slaat akkoorden aan op zijn gitaar. Het klinkt eenvoudig, maar is veel meer dan simpel en gemakkelijk uit te voeren.

Johnny Dowd is een zanger zoals er weinig zijn. Muziek maken die simpel klinkt is een gave. Gaat de luisteraar meezingen met een van de veertien nummers, blijkt hoe lastig de tracks in elkaar zitten. Dowd kan als geen ander de melodielijnen van een ritmebox volgen en toch een volkomen eigen geluid laten horen. De frasering van de op leeftijd zijnde zanger is uniek. Daarbij worden de juiste muzikanten ingezet om de muziek naar een volgend, hoger niveau te tillen.

Voorganger Twinkle, Twinkle (2018) verloor de aandacht door een overdaad aan experimenteel gefröbel. Bij Family Picnic heeft Johnny Dowd de gulden middenweg weer gevonden. Tracks die alleen van zijn hand kunnen komen, muziek die uit de pas loopt en toch telkens binnen de bekende lijnen eindigt. Family Picnic is een mooie start van een hopelijk geweldig muzikaal 2019. (Mother Jinx Records)

– Original article

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Johnny Dowd is from March 29, 1948. The American debut in 1997 with Wrong Side Of Memphis. Family Picnic is the seventeenth (!) Album by Dowd. In addition to five live records, there is Hellwood in 2006, the collaboration with Jim White and Brian Wilson for the long player Chainsaw Of Life. The Texan wrote fourteen songs for Family Picnic.

Dowd mainly uses a rhythm box to write his songs. He finds a rhythm and writes his most commonly rhymed sentences. They are stories from family life. It is unclear whether the family life of Dowd yields these anecdotes. In the title number ‘Family Picnic’ it provides the following observations.

Every year there’s a family picnic
And folks come from miles around
Mom buys fried chicken on the outskirts of town
Little sister makes a salad
Big sister waits fior a call
Brother John’s in the bathroom
Lord, he’s climbing the walls
How much emptyness can you swallow?
Would a sixpack get’s you through?
Would it take a quart of whiskey to drive away your blues?

Simple phrases, vocally Dowd is helped by singer Kim Sherwood-Caso, guitarist Michael Edmondson adorns the song with functional play. Dowd makes chords on his guitar. It sounds simple, but is much more than simple and easy to implement.

Johnny Dowd is a singer as there are few. Making music that sounds simple is a gift. Will the listener sing along with one of the fourteen songs, shows how difficult the tracks are. Dowd is able to follow the melody lines of a rhythm box like no other and yet make a completely unique sound. The phrasing of the old singer is unique. In addition, the right musicians are used to take the music to the next higher level.

Pastor Twinkle, Twinkle (2018) lost attention due to an excess of experimental gefröbel. At Family Picnic, Johnny Dowd found the golden mean again. Tracks that can only come from his hand, music that is out of step and still ends within the familiar lines. Family Picnic is a great start to a hopefully great musical 2019. (Mother Jinx Records)

Editors Note:

Copies of Family Picnic will be available at a release party gig and collaborative art show opening March 1st at the Grayhaven in Ithaca.There’s going to be all kinds of Dowd art on the walls and tables, some snacks and drinks, a photo booth and, most importantly, all proceeds go to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.

Live @ Grassroots – In the Cabaret Sat. 9pm One Show Only

“Country-soul rejects no useful tool in its arsenal of dark expression – in the house of Johnny Dowd, drum machines and punk guitar tear the place apart, and story puts things back together, even if there are cracks left in the walls from all the ruckus. Find Johnny in the Cabaret Hall on Saturday at 9pm.”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 9, 2017: Johnny Dowd performs at Hill Country Live in Washington, DC opening for Pere Ubu. (Photo by Richie Downs)

 

Grassroots interview 2015

 

UPDATE FROM JOHNNY’S SITE (www.johnnydowd.com):

The new record is coming along swimmingly. I guess if I were to put it in a genre, it would be Alt Country/Roots Rock/Americana, etc. They’re the kind of tunes I was writing 20 years ago. Mike Edmondson plays some great rock and roll guitar, and the icing on the cake is the return of Kim Sherwood Caso, singing better than ever. Still some work to do, but this may be a breakthrough album. Grammys, here I come. 

 

Grassroots 2016 with The Sex Robots

Oor and The Independent review Twinkle Twinkle

The older, the crazier? Next year he turns 70, but since he discovered the use of synths, electronics and beats alongside his guitar, a whole new world seems to have opened for the New York singer/guitar player.He lets himself go, wonderfully off-key and against the grain, with songs from among others Jane Taylor (etc)

‘As if Hank Williams is transformed into Captain Beefheart who bought himself a bunch of primitive electronics’ the Independent wrote. We agree. Soon he will be touring with Melle de Boer. Nice couple!

 – Translation by Tamara Veldman via Facebook

 

Real Roots Cafe reviews Twinkle Twinkle

Johnny Dowd, Twinkle, Twinkle

De eerste prachtige uitgave van en voor 2018 is een feit. Twinkle, Twinkle van Johnny Dowd is een release waarbij de mond meerdere malen van verbazing openvalt. Op zijn site vertelt hij in zijn eigen woorden over zijn nieuwe langspeler:“Howdy all. I have finished tracking my new record, tentatively titled Twinkle, Twinkle. All the songs are in the public domain — ‘Tom Dooley’, ‘St. James Infirmary’, ‘Red River Valley’, ‘Rock of Ages’… you get the picture. It features Anna Coogan and Mike Edmondson on vocals. If you ever wondered what folk music would sound like in an electronic setting, this is it. I’ll release it on my own label, Mother Jinx Records. Not sure when. I’ll keep you posted.” Twinkle, Twinkle staat in januari 2018. Zoveel is nu duidelijk, in de schappen van de winkels.

Dowd heeft een paar eigen composities aangevuld met Amerikaanse liedjes uit een ver en muzikaal verleden. ‘The Cuckoo’, ‘St. James Infirmary Blues’, ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ en ‘John The Revelator’ zijn overbekende traditionals. Dowd haalt elk nummer door zijn elektronische studio en stopt de nummers vol afwijkende, vreemde en verrassende klanken.

Na een eerste beluistering ligt een conclusie voor de hand. Dowd heeft zijn hand overspeeld. De nummers zijn slechts in de verte te herkennen en spatten uiteen door de wens te verbazen en misschien wel te choqueren. Precies op dat punt is er ook de oprechte verbazing. Dowd heeft de nummers aangepakt, gegeseld bijna én met respect behandeld. De glimlach op de lippen van de luisteraar om zoveel gekte, verandert af en toe in een sardonische grijns. Het verleden verdient respect, maar mag ook dienen als basis voor muzikale gekte en brille.

‘Execute American Folklore, Again’ opent en is een nummer dat Dowd bij optredens in 2016 al speelde. Hij voegt op deze release het woord Again toe. Het is bekend dat Dowd de Amerikaanse muziekgeschiedenis graag op zijn geheel eigen manier vertolkt. Op Twinkle, Twinklle gaat hij ‘again’,  opnieuw de Amerikaanse folklore te lijf.

Na vele luisterbeurten is er vooral de verbazing gebleven. ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ loopt al na ruim twee minuten moeiteloos over in ‘Oh, My Darling, Clementine’. De solo tussen de coupletten is typisch Dowd, simpel en schurend. De Amerikaanse bard melkt de nummers niet uit. Zoals altijd heeft hij lak aan conventies en schakelt bijna verveeld naar een volgend liedje.

Twinkle, Twinkle is een unieke plaat. Het is een release die te denken geeft en telkens om aandacht vraagt. De luisteraar draait nummers om gedachtes tijdens eerdere draaibeurten te bevestigen. Dowd zet iedereen continue op het verkeerde been.

Afsluitend nummer is ‘Job 17: 11 – 17’. “Thank God it’s Friday. I’m gonna have a party. Gonna have a funky, funky good time,” zingt Dowd. En dat is uiteindelijk precies wat Twinkle, Twinkle is. Een feest voor de oren van iedereen die avontuur zoekt in folklore. (Mother Jinx Records)

Zaterdag 27 Januari 2018 in Paradiso. Zaal open 21:30, Aanvang 22:00

 – Original article

SoundBlab reviews Twinkle Twinkle

JOHNNY DOWD – TWINKLE TWINKLE

New Album

Johnny Dowd first caught my ear in 1999 with, Pictures From Life’s Other Side.Wherein he demonically skewered a maudlin Hank Williams ditty. As for the rest, it was the musical equivalent of Sam Shepherd’s, Buried Child. To this day, it remains one of my favorite albums. On Other Side’s ‘God Created Woman’ there’s the ominous line, “Meet me in the parking lot, up on level three. There’s something I gotta show you. There’s something you just gotta see.” Dowd’s latest, Twinkle Twinkle might just be that something.

His last album, Execute American Folklore, pretty much was a statement of intent. Twinkle Twinkle, takes its cue from there and then proceeds to wreak unholy carnage on what have become the standards of American Folklore. By the time he’s done, you won’t recognize them. They’re beyond redemption. Like Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask ReplicaTwinkle Twinkle is an ornery, willfully perverse work of Art.

“The coo coo is a pretty bird,” Clarence Ashley once crooned on a scratchy bit of shellac sometime in early 20th Century. Well, Dowd’s version is just plain cuckoo. Here this well-worn standard sounds like it joined up with Devo after a 5th of Jim Beam. This bird is so mean, it will rip your heart out like a buzzard if you so much as tip toe around it. And you not only won’t recognize this ‘St. James Infirmary’, you’ll need directions home after sliding all over the guts spilled on the floor.  In Dowd’s hands, Son House’s ‘John The Revelator’ reads more like a Dear John letter to Nietzsche’s lost, dead God. ‘Tom Dooley’ gets a make- over with a pair of brass knuckles. And God help you if you’re caught snoozing in this ‘House of The Rising Sun’. If that weren’t enough, Dowd has cut the most unsettling and terrifying version of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ you’ll ever hear. Mozart must be laughing in his grave.

In terms of Dowd’s song choices, nothing on this album is arbitrary. Titles like, ‘Trouble In Mind’ and ‘Going Down The Road Feeling Bad’ have resonance in regards to what’s currently going on in the ol’ Red White and Blue. Forgive me for getting political here, but in its entirety Twinkle Twinkle can be viewed as a biting commentary on the America so many bigots like to “God bless” all the time. This album is undeniably a crooked middle finger to our political culture and times. It doesn’t take a stable genius to see that. What Dowd has laid down here, is no accident. If one’s followed Dowd’s career, he’s been moving in this direction for years. In fact, he’s always dealt these cards out. But with Twinkle Twinkle he goes for the jugular with all the gusto and surgical precision of Jack the Ripper. In fact, this little opus could have just as easily be entitled, Jack The Ripper Sings American Folk Songs. 

In any event, Twinkle Twinkle is the perfect soundtrack to the madness under the surface of our affable myths of melting pots, baseball, apple pie and fireworks on the 4th of July. Here Dowd is ripping the band aid off and staring that ugly beast right in the face. And doing it with brains, heart and moral outrage. Not to mention one hell of a twisted sense of humor.

Woody Guthrie wrote, “This Machine Kill Fascists” on his guitar for a damn good reason. Despite Pete Seeger and the Civil Rights movement, a lot of these songs were watered down by the white bread likes of the Kingston Trio. Glossed over as coffee house clap a-longs for entitled college students. Then later, came O Brother Where Art Thou and the shallow hipster Alt Country/Americana revival. By comparison, Twinkle Twinkle isn’t easy or pretty listening. But it sure has balls. Not to mention, vision. If you despised what the likes of Kingston Trio did to American Folk Music, you’ll take pure delight in this. Revenge is sweet.

 – Original article