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


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


Uncut and The Sun review Twinkle Twinkle



 – Uncut


 – The Sun

The Sante Fe New Mexican reviews Twinkle Twinkle

TERRELL’S TUNE-UP: Johnny Dowd’s Twinkle Twinkle

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

I love great old American folk songs and other hoary tunes from past centuries. And I love radical reinterpretations of great American folk songs, ancient murder ballads, epic love ballads, supernatural weirdness, field hollers, proto-Tin Pan Alley standards, Stephen Foster classics, and spirituals.

Neil Young’s Americana, with its fearsome take on “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain” (retitled “Jesus’ Chariot” and recast as an appeal to our space-alien forefathers), is a prime example of this. Lesser known is Snakefarm’s Songs From My Funeral, in which singer Anna Domino puts a funky, electronic, atmospheric twist on spooky old tunes like “St. James Infirmary Blues,” “Banks of the Ohio,” and “House of the Rising Sun.”

If stodgy old purists balked at these efforts, Johnny Dowd’s new album Twinkle, Twinkle should give them all heart attacks. Dowd doesn’t bring these songs into the present. He doesn’t take them to the future. He takes them straight to hell — and listeners not only will feel the heat, they’ll smell the devil’s breath.

With Dowd on vocals, guitar (torturing the poor thing), keyboards, and other instruments, plus backing vocals by Anna Coogan and Michael Edmondson, most of the songs here will take on different shades, spotlight hidden corners, and reveal strange new meanings. It’s like a dream in which familiar things — in this case, the lyrics of the songs — melt into menacing new forms. The closest comparison I can come up with is The Residents, those mysterious masked mutants who have applied their strange craft to the works of Elvis, Hank Williams Sr., James Brown, and others. Dowd sounds downright Residential on this album.

Dowd’s prominent drawl is not affected. He was raised in Texas and Oklahoma. But for the last few decades he has resided in Ithaca, New York, where he has earned his daily bread operating a moving company. He didn’t start recording until he was nearly fifty, when he released his 1998 debut, Wrong Side of Memphis, full of off-kilter original murder ballads and other tales of the underbelly.

Starting off Twinkle, Twinkle with an original song called “Execute American Folklore, Again” (an obvious reference to the title of his previous album), Dowd lays out his purpose. And while you’re still scratching your head over that one, he goes into the title song, a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with industrial percussion, Coogan singing a surreal soprano, and a demonic electronic voice that seems to be mocking Dowd’s earnest recitation.

That’s followed by a Dada-like take on one of my favorite folk songs. Even before Dowd got his hands on it, “The Cuckoo” was filled with mystery, with its seemingly unconnected references to Independence Day (“She never hollers cuckoo ’til the fourth day of July”) and the Jack of Diamonds robbing you of your silver and your gold. It’s an old British ballad that I suspect has evolved into a patchwork of two or three songs. It became a folk-scene standard in the ’50s when Harry Smith put Clarence Ashley’s version of it on his Anthology of American Folk Music.There are great versions by Doc Watson, The Holy Modal Rounders, Taj Mahal, Dave Alvin, and — perhaps my favorite — by Big Brother & The Holding Company. But Dowd does the most cuckoo “Cuckoo.” He makes this bird holler louder than anyone (and several months before the fourth of July).Dowd’s take on the New Orleans classic “St. James Infirmary Blues” sounds even more ominous than a song about viewing your sweetheart’s corpse in a hospital morgue is supposed to sound. He includes an opening-verse framing device that Cab Calloway and others omitted:

“… Old Joe’s barroom, it was on the corner of the square./The usual crowd was assembled, and Big Joe McKinney was there./He was standing by my shoulder. His eyes were bloodshot red/He turned to the crowd around him and these are the words he said.”

When Dowd sings the part in which the narrator fantasizes about his own funeral, he changes a line, perhaps to add cosmic significance: “Put a $20 gold piece on my watch chain/So that God will know I died standing pat.”

Other highlights of Twinkle, Twinkle include what sounds like a Martian hip-hop interpretation of “Rock of Ages.” Dowd punctuates the versions saying “Rock! I said Rock!” with a crazy guitar twang coming in behind him. On “John the Revelator,” Dowd delivers each line as if he’s relaying information that could get him killed. “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” sounds like a road trip into another dimension. Yes, it’s strange, but I bet Woody Guthrie would have gotten a kick out of it.

And there’s “Tom Dooley,” in which Dowd ends the song by singing a verse of “Jesus Loves Me.” And on “Oh, My Darling, Clementine,” Dowd actually sings the melody, backed up by Coogan on the choruses. This is about as straight as he plays it, at least until the last minute or so of the song — in which the music gets stranger and “Jesus Loves Me” makes a return.

He ends the album with some Bible verse — “Job 17: 11-17” — taking about as many liberties with the Good Book as he does with the folk songs. The Bible says, “If I wait, the grave is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, `You are my father’: to the worm, `You are my mother, and my sister.’” Dowd adds words you never heard in the Bible: “TGIF, thank God it’s Friday, gonna have a party. … Hey everybody, come on over to my house.”

When my kids were growing up, I warned them not to accept party invitations from strangers spouting Bible verses full of worms and death. But Dowd’s crazy party is pretty hard to resist.

Video time!

Well Hell’s bells, I couldn’t find any videos of Twinkle Twinkle songs to post here. But here are a few of my favorites from the past.

Here’s an ode to Nancy Sinatra:

To this next song, I pledged my eternal love .

And going way way back to 1999, this one from Dowd’s second album, Pictures from Life’s Other Side this one still haunts my nightmares.

 – Original site

aerostatica.ru reviews Twinkle Twinkle

Well, so that life does not seem to honey, let me introduce to you a gentleman named Johnny Dowd, the black sheep of modern country music. On his 16th album, he’s gutted the classics of American folk, blues and jazz and achieves this striking success.

Johnny Dowd – Twinkle, Twinkle

“There are a lot of synthesizers. A lot of singing. Many rhythm curves. These songs flow together as a soundtrack to the film about an electronic musician who got into the 19th century. “
Johnny Dowd is now about 70 years old, but few people dare to disregard such irreverent tails to sacred cows like him.

  • Johnny Dowd – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

It was Johnny Dowd. And now his colleagues from Britain – the group “Stick In The Wheel” (“Stick in the wheel”). They also play and sing ancient folk songs, and also fill them with today’s fury and passion. “Uncut” magazine calls them “the coolest of the current bands playing traditional music.” The Guardian writes about them: “The future begins here.” And they say to themselves: “We are playing the music of our people. This is our culture. This is our heritage. “

 – Original site

Ну, а чтобы жизнь мёдом не казалась, позвольте мне представить вам джентльмена по имени Джонни Дауд, чёрную овцу современной кантри-музыки. На своём 16-м альбоме он потрошит классику американского фолка, блюза и джаза и добивается в этом разительных успехов.

Johnny Dowd – Twinkle, Twinkle

«Много синтезаторов. Много пения. Много кривых ритмов. Эти песни льются вместе как звуковая дорожка к фильму про электронного музыканта, попавшего в 19-й век».
Джонни Дауду сейчас около 70 лет, но мало кто осмеливается так непочтительно крутить хвосты священным коровам, как он.

Written In Music reviews Twinkle Twinkle


 Door Cis van Looy op 11 januari 2018

Execute American Folklore was al niet het meest toegankelijke werk, van de eigenzinnige uit Ithaca, met Twinkle Twinkle neemt Johnny Dowd de warrige draad van de voorganger op. Vanaf de openingstune Execute American Flokore, Again een wordt de luisteraar met een elektronische brij met daarbovenop het ondertussen vertrouwde, gegromde parlando geconfronteerd, regelmatig komt de ijle zang van Anne Coogan daarbij. Met uitzondering van het titelnummer zorgde Dowd met enige hulp van Michael Edmondson uitsluitend voor ‘de muziek’.

Hij nadert ondertussen de zeventig maar zijn experimenteerdrift is geenszins  getemperd. Alom bekende singalong tunes uit het grote Amerikaanse songbook worden met synthesizers en primitieve elektronische instrumentatie in, op het eerste gehoor vormeloze, hallucinante klanktapijten getransformeerd.

Het zijn niet bepaald de mooiste klanktaferelen, meestal ontaarden de traditionals, enkel herkenbaar door de vertrouwde tekstflarden, in een beangstigde soundtrack die wellicht niet alleen puristisch georiënteerde luisteraars de gordijnen injaagt en vrij snel doet afhaken. Als je het even langer volhoudt ontdek je Trouble in Mind. Dat nummer passeert hier op een logge beatbox structuur, ongetwijfeld de meest opmerkelijke versie van de niet alleen in jazz en blues milieus tot klassieker uitgegroeide song die pianist Richard M.Jones in de vroege jaren twintig van vorige eeuw componeerde.

Met Red River Valley wordt nog een oudere folktune in een bizarre rocker getransformeerd. Het duurt even voor in de grillige structuren St James Infarmary Blues of Jon The Revelator ontdekken. Met de macabere spoken word versie van The House Of The Rising Sun en My Darling Clementine verloopt dat vlotter.

Het beluisteren van deze langspeler is geen gemakkelijke opgave, we vermoeden dat vooral Dowd zichzelf amuseerde tijdens de opnamesessies. Ongetwijfeld enkel geschikt voor avontuurlijk ingestelde adepten in een nooit voltooide zoektocht naar curiositeiten. Muzikale amateurs die aan dat profiel beantwoorden komen ongetwijfeld aan hun trekken op de komende tournee met Melle de Boer.

Tracklisting Twinkle, Twinkle:

  1. Execute, American Folklore, Again
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Litter Sister
  3. The Cuckoo
  4. Trouble In Mind
  5. Going Down  The Road Feeling Bad
  6. St.James Infirmary Blues
  7. Red River Valley
  8. Rock Of Ages
  9. John The Revelator
  10. Tom Dooley
  11. House Of The Rising Sun
  12. Oh, My Darling Clementine
  13. Job 17: 11-17

Foto: Kat Dalton

 – Original Site

Execute American Folklore was not the most accessible work, from the idiosyncratic from Ithaca, with Twinkle Twinkle Johnny Dowd takes on the messy thread of the predecessor. From the opening stand of Execute American Folkore, Again one, the listener is confronted with an electronic pulp and on top of that the familiar, growling parlando, regularly accompanied by the thin vocals of Anne Coogan. With the exception of the title track, Dowd, with some help from Michael Edmondson, only took care of ‘the music’.

He approaches the seventy in the meantime, but his experimental drive is by no means tempered. Well-known singalong tunes from the great American songbook are transformed into hallucinatory sound tapestries with first-class formulas and primitive electronic instrumentation.

They are not exactly the most beautiful sound scenes, usually the traditionals, only recognizable by the familiar text fragments, degenerate into a frightening soundtrack that may not only stimulate puristically oriented listeners to pull the curtains and quickly pull them off. If you persist for a while, you will discover Trouble in Mind . That song passes here on a cumbersome beatbox structure, undoubtedly the most remarkable version of the song that has not only become a classic in jazz and blues environments, which pianist Richard M.Jones composed in the early twenties of last century.

With Red River Valley an older folktune is transformed into a bizarre rocker. It takes a while to discover St James Infarmary Blues or Jon The Revelator in the erratic structures. With the macabre spoken word version of The House Of The Rising Sun and My Darling Clementine that goes float .

Listening to this long player is not an easy task, we suspect that Dowd especially amused himself during the recording sessions. Undoubtedly only suitable for adventurous adepts in a never completed search for curiosities. Musical amateurs who answer that profile will undoubtedly get their money’s worth on the upcoming tour with Melle de Boer.

 – Translation by Google

Da Music reviews Twinkle Twinkle


New Album

Hoewel je met Johnny Dowd uiteraard nooit weet, geeft het openingsnummer van ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ al aan waar de man naartoe wil: een vervolg maken op zijn ‘Execute American Folklore‘, maar dan nog verder doorgedreven.

Dat uit zich dan in de instrumentkeuze (drummachine, synth, gitaar en de stemmen van hemzelf en Anna Coogan), maar nog meer in de liedjes, die hij hier brengt. Want het betreft hier grotendeels covers van (traditionele) folksongs. Alleen kleedt hij die zodanig anders in (of uit) dat enkel nog het melodietje overblijft.

Trouble In Mind verdrinkt bijvoorbeeld in een modderpoel van synths waarover Dowd dan zijn grafrede afsteekt. Als Belg ben je uiteraard niet meteen vertrouwd met al die “klassiekers” als Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, dat dan wel een min of meer vrolijk deuntje meekrijgt, maar toch bijzonder zwartgallig overkomt, zoals dat eigenlijk met alle songs het geval is; niet in het minst met het eerder al vermelde Execute American Folklore, Again, de enige song van zijn eigen hand, waarin hij van alles “radio-active bile” maakt.

Maar naargeestig is de man allerminst. Want de humor druipt af van iets als Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. Wrange humor, dat dan weer wel, maar desalniettemin humor. Ongetwijfeld zal hij hiermee op lange tenen trappen, want de Amerikaanse traditie, mag daar wel aan geraakt worden? Wie Dowd een beetje kent, weet daarop trouwens al meteen diens antwoord.

Dit zijn gewoon hoogst originele versies van songs als Tom DooleyHouse Of The Rising Sun (nee, het origineel is niet van The Animals) of Oh, My Darling Clementine, liedjes die hier dan wel iets bekender in de oren klinken. En dat hij de plaat afsluit met een citaat uit de bijbel zegt veel over waar hij vandaan komt; de manier waarop zegt dan weer iets over wat hij daarover denkt.

Johnny Dowd is nooit voor een gat te vangen geweest en bewijst hiermee dat zijn liedje – of het nu zijn eigen liedje dan wel een cover is – nog lang niet uitgezongen is. Deze man staat voor alles open en daarvoor kan je alleen maar bewondering hebben. Dat de muziek ook bijna kinderlijk boeiend blijft, is dan een niet te versmaden pluspunt.

Johnny Dowd trekt in januari en februari door Nederland, maar zal in België slechts één keer te zien zijn.

 – Original source

Although you never know with Johnny Dowd, the opening track of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ already indicates where the man wants to go: making a sequel to his ‘ Execute American Folklore ‘, but then even further.

This then manifests itself in the choice of instrument (drum machine, synth, guitar and the voices of himself and Anna Coogan), but even more in the songs that he brings here. Because this mainly concerns covers of (traditional) folk songs. Only he who clothes in (or out) so different that only the melody remains.

Trouble In Mind , for example, drowns in a mud pool of synths about which Dowd then juts off his eulogy. As a Belgian, you obviously are not immediately familiar with all those “classics” as Going Down The Road Feeling Bad , which then gets a more or less cheerful tune, but still comes across as extremely black, as is actually the case with all songs; not in the least with the aforementioned Execute American Folklore, Again , the only song of his own hand, in which he makes everything “radio-active bio”.

But the man is by no means gloomy. Because the humor drips with something like Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star .Srange humor, that again, but nonetheless humor. Undoubtedly he will be keen on long toes, because the American tradition, can it be touched? Anyone who knows Dowd a little bit knows his answer right away.

These are just highly original versions of songs like Tom Dooley , House Of The Rising Sun (no, the original is not from The Animals) or Oh, My Darling Clementine , songs that sound a bit more familiar here. And that he closes the record with a quote from the Bible says a lot about where he comes from; the way in which then says something about what he thinks about it.

Johnny Dowd has never been able to catch a hole and proves that his song – whether it’s his own song or a cover – is by no means sung. This man is open to everything and for that you can only admire. The fact that the music also remains almost childishly fascinating is a plus point.

Johnny Dowd travels through the Netherlands in January and February , but will only be seen once in Belgium.

 – Translation by Google

enola.be reviews Twinkle Twinkle

Johnny Dowd

Twinkle, Twinkle
Guy Peters – photos: Kat Dalton – January 19, 2018


Dat Johnny Dowd geen doorsnee muzikant zou worden, stond ten tijde van zijn solodebuut Wrong Side Of Memphis al vast. Twintig jaar en een dozijn studioalbums later, kan je eigenlijk spreken van een totaalwerk dat, meer nog dan een inkijk in de geest van een eeuwige buitenstaander, een uitgebreide commentaar op de songtraditie is. Weliswaar met Twinkle, Twinkle als nieuw hoogtepunt van vervreemding.

Gedeeltelijk is dat te danken aan het feit dat ’s mans albums van bandaffaires zijn uitgedund tot solo-oefeningen, waarbij de focus gaandeweg verschoof van de klassieke combinatie van stem en gitaar, naar een vorm van bricolagekunst met ranzige beats, pompende bassen, eindeloze effecten en de monotoon uitgespuwde preken van een intussen bijna zeventigjarige experimentalist. Haalde That’s Your Wife On The Back Of My Horse (2015) een nieuw niveau van doorgeslagen dementie en knutseldrift, dan deed Execute American Folklore (2016) daar nog eens een schep bovenop. En Twinkle, Twinkle gaat nog verder, met dat verschil dat Dowd zich deze keer op the public domain gooit.

Dat heeft hij altijd al gedaan, onrechtstreeks, met invloeden uit folk, country, blues, spirituals en hymnes, en de talloze minder en meer expliciete verwijzingen die op platen en tijdens concerten opdoken, maar deze keer brengt hij interpretaties van klassiekers uit de folk- en aanverwante tradities die al even radicaal ontsporen als zijn eigen materiaal. Elf songs, waarvan de meest dateren van begin twintigste of zelfs negentiende eeuw (en eerder), omarmd door twee eigen constructies. Van die laatste is “Execute American Folklore, Again” de overgang met het vorige album. Dat execute zowel vertaald kan worden als “uitvoeren” en als “executeren” is geen toevalligheid. Bij Dowd is het altijd laveren tussen waanzin en bittere ernst (al liggen die vaak vervaarlijk dicht bij elkaar), kwansuis willekeurig rondgestrooide verzen en oneliners. Pruttelende synths, Butthole Surfers-gitaar, kitscherige effecten, doldwaze zang en andere vormen van muzikaal moddergooien. En achteraan “Job 17:11-17”, met de betreffende verzen die gedeclameerd worden als een gelaten terugblik op een sterfbed. Maar ook: “Thank God it’s Friday.”

Daartussen dus elf songs die stuk voor stuk gefileerd en gevandaliseerd worden. Verkrachtingen die gevoelige zielen op stang zullen jagen. Melodieën worden buiten gegooid of op hun kop gezet, waardoor songs soms pas herkend worden wanneer de titels passeren. Evergreens als “The Cuckoo”, “Trouble In Mind” en “House Of The Rising Sun”, die meerdere generaties roots-artiesten inspireerden om er hun draai aan te geven, krijgen nu misschien wel hun meest doldrieste of perverse uitvoeringen ooit, met passages die twijfelen tussen uitspattingen van kinderen die samen met opa losgelaten worden in de studio, en satanische rituelen met zieke stemmetjes en stuiterende bliepjes.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Litte Star”. Miljoenen kinderen werden ermee in slaap gewiegd. Niet hier. Dit is de Poltergeist-versie, met Dowds zombievoordracht in een coalitie met een rudimentair ritme en spookybackings. Of “Rock Of Ages”, een combinatie van stompende hardrock en mislukt 80s experiment. En soms duiken er ritmes op, zoals in “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”, die, mits een paar kleine aanpassingen, klaar zijn voor zweterige underground-fuiven, met Dowd als de hogepriester van het bacchanaal. Verder krijg je vooral zin om dit eens op te leggen wanneer je ouders passeren, want ook zij zijn ooit opgegroeid met songs als “Tom Dooley” (geen murder ballad die zo leutig klinkt) en het jolig walsende “Oh, My Darling, Clementine”.

Het wordt steeds moeilijker om nog iets nieuws te vertellen over Dowds oeuvre, dat intussen al twee decennia z’n eigenzinnige koers volgt, maar nu misschien verder dan ooit verwijderd is van wat conservatieve rootsliefhebbers verstaan onder hun geliefde genre. Kan wel zijn, maar tegelijkertijd ben je getuige van een onverschrokkenheid en daad van creativiteit die ook nu weer ontzag afdwingt. Artiesten als Dowd noemen we soms outsiders, de ongeleide projectielen, de luis in de pels, maar ze zijn meer dan dat. Het zijn de smaakmakers (ook al lijkt het soms smaakloos) en avonturiers, die net door hun baldadigheid nieuwe uithoeken en invullingen vinden, aantonen dat de traditie eindeloos verrijkt en vernieuwd kan worden van binnenuit.

Dowd speelt op 4 februari in de Rock Lobster (Antwerpen). Om een of andere reden heeft hij meer vrienden in Nederland. Daar speelt hij negen keer. Alle data zijn te vinden op de website.

 – Original article

Johnny Dowd

Twinkle, Twinkle

Guy Peters – photos: Kat Dalton – January 19, 2018

The fact that Johnny Dowd would not become an average musician was already confirmed at the time of his solo debut Wrong Side Of Memphis . Twenty years and a dozen studio albums later, you can actually speak of a total work that, more than an insight into the mind of an eternal outsider, is an extensive commentary on the song tradition. Admittedly with Twinkle, Twinkle as a new high point of alienation.

Partly this is due to the fact that man’s albums of band affairs have been thinned into solo exercises, with the focus gradually shifted from the classic combination of voice and guitar, to a form of bricolage art with rancid beats, pumping basses, endless effects. and the monotonously spewed sermons of an almost 70-year-old experimentalist. When That’s Your Wife On The Back Of My Horse (2015) reached a new level of knock-on dementia and craft drift, Execute American Folklore (2016) did a great job. And Twinkle, Twinkle goes even further, with the difference that Dowd this time on the public domain throws.

He has always done that, indirectly, with influences from folk, country, blues, spirituals and hymns, and the countless less and more explicit references that appeared on records and during concerts, but this time he brings interpretations of classics from the folk and related traditions that derail as radically as his own material. Eleven songs, most of which date from the early twentieth or even nineteenth century (and earlier), embraced by two own constructions. Of the latter, “Execute American Folklore, Again” is the transition with the previous album. That execute can be translated as “execute” and “execute” is not a coincidence. At Dowd it is always laziness between madness and bitter seriousness (although they are often very close to each other), quandary randomly scattered verses and one-liners. Prettling synths, Butthole Surfers guitar, kitschy effects, crazy vocals and other forms of musical mud throwing. And in the back “Job 17: 11-17”, with the verses in question that are to be pronounced as a resigned look back at a deathbed. But also: “Thank God it’s Friday.”

In between, eleven songs that are all filmed and vandalized. Rape that will hunt sensitive souls on rods. Melodies are thrown out or turned upside down, so that songs are sometimes only recognized when the titles pass.Evergreens like “The Cuckoo”, “Trouble In Mind” and “House Of The Rising Sun”, which inspired several generations of roots artists to turn it around, now get their most doldrieste (unbridled-Ed.) or perverse performances ever, with passages who doubt between the indiscretions of children who are released together with grandpa in the studio, and satanic rituals with sick voices and bouncing bleeps.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Millions of children were lulled to sleep with them. Not here. This is the Poltergeist version, with Dowd’s zombie presentation in a coalition with a rudimentary rhythm and spooky backings. Or “Rock Of Ages”, a combination of punching hard rock and unsuccessful 80s experiment. And sometimes there are rhythms, like in “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad”, which, with a few minor adjustments, are ready for sweaty underground parties, with Dowd as the high priest of the Bacchanal. Furthermore, you especially want to impose this once your parents pass, because they also grew up with songs like “Tom Dooley” (no murder ballad that sounds so nice) and the jolly rolling “Oh, My Darling, Clementine” .

It is getting more and more difficult to tell something new about Dowd’s oeuvre, which has been following its own self-willed course for two decades, but is now perhaps more than ever removed from what conservative roots enthusiasts understand by their beloved genre. Can be, but at the same time you are witness to a fearlessness and act of creativity that again commands awe. Artists like Dowd are sometimes called outsiders, the unguided missiles, the louse in the fur, but they are more than that. It is the tastemakers (even though it sometimes seems tasteless) and adventurers, who find new corners and fillings just because of their bastardism, show that the tradition can be endlessly enriched and renewed from the inside.

Dowd plays on the 4th of February in the Rock Lobster (Antwerp). For some reason he has more friends in the Netherlands. There he plays nine times. All dates can be found on the website .

 – Translation by Google

How I Wonder What You Are

New Album

                                    Samples from the album  here

Red River Valley , that’s the name of the new Johnny Dowd album ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ that will be in stores on January 12th. According to the press release it is a playful album with recognizable tunes.

More info about the release can be found on ‘s mans website . Dowd is back on track with Melle De Boer at his side. That brings him eight times to the Netherlands, but Belgium this time (for the time being) left. So keep an eye on it.

  – Original article

The twinkle of Johnny Dowd is finished with his seventeenth (!) Solo album.

In his newsletter, the man announced that ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ became the title of the successor of ‘ Execute American Folklore ‘, which was published last year. The album appears on its own Mother Jinx label in December.

Dowd said the following about the development process: “I thought it was going to be my most important inside record, but at some point it would go on and on.”

Then there is an American tour as support act of Pere Ubu before he goes down to Europe. And that all promises to be “a little different”, but more details in that regard are not yet known.

 September 25, 2017                                                                    Patrick Van Gestel

Ithaca’s finest singer-songwriter Johnny Dowd has a new record coming up. Twinkle, Twinkle is a collection of public domain songs, It is being mixed and will be released in January.

He will be on tour in the UK and The Netherlands in January and February to promote the release. He will be sharing he bill with Dutch musician Melle de Boer. They named it the Going Down the Road Feeling Bad Tour.
– Original article

Been fun watching the album progress, not to mention Kat Dalton’s photos illustrating that progression. We re-present, in the original order:

Good stuff happening in Dowdsville.

“Twinkle, Twinkle” is finished. I thought it was going to be my most inside record, but at some point it leapt the fence and took on a life of its own. It will be released on my label in January.

All for now.

Johnny’s new album, ”Twinkle, Twinkle,” will be released on January 12, 2018.

From the press release by Del Day (Ark PR):

”Wonderfully playful, yet bursting with creative juices, ’Twinkle, Twinkle’ is an album only Dowd would be brave enough to make. These are tunes we all know—tunes we hum, sing-along to at parties, solid bricks in the pantheon of American song—yet you’d be forgiven for thinking that you are hearing all of them for the first time given Dowd’s startling interpretations. Against a backdrop of scathing synths and menacing beats, tracks like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ and ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ adorn entirely different guises. ‘Trouble In Mind,’ originally recorded as a jazz song in 1924, here broods like some kind of long-forgotten Tom Waits song remixed by Burial, whilst ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ plays out as a soundtrack to Dowd’s dark and inquisitive mind.”  

Above is one of the tracks for you to enjoy right now, “Red River Valley.“

The Euro tour starts on January 25. Tour schedule here.

Check out the latest Euro tour dates on the Tours page. Johnny will have his new album, ”Twinkle, Twinkle,” for sale at the shows. It will also be available at this site starting January 12, as well as digitally at all the usual outlets.

A CD release show is scheduled in Ithaca, New York, at The Dock, on February 17. Special guests are Anna Coogan, Kim Sherwood-Caso, and Tzar.