Live @ The Running Horse (Americana.uk interview)

Johnny Dowd with support by John Marriott

JOHNNY DOWD BRINGS “FAMILY PICNIC” to Running Horse.
Ticket : £12 (Door £15)

Thirty years on from his remarkable, indescribably dark and damn right startling Americana debut Wrong Side Of Memphis, legend Johnny Dowd returns to the roots rock arena with Family Picnic, his new album

Over the last thirty years, Dowd has been releasing records that defy trends, a unique catalogue of work that stands head and shoulders above many of his lauded contemporaries. Now in his seventieth year on God’s good earth, Dowd has lost none of the vigour, enthusiasm, and attitude that has seen him forge his position as one of America’s most inquisitive musical minds, a musical explorer who has charted expeditions to genre-defying destinations that, at their heart, question, challenge, and dissect in their own way notions of the American Dream.

Family Picnic is the first time Dowd has really looked backwards in all that time, instead of plunging forward into a sonic unknown with the playfulness of a child.

As Dowd says himself: “I had to dig pretty deep for this one.
Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick Tock!
This record took an unexpected turn to the past – my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

 

Van Life – Johnny Dowd

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Ithaca NY’s Johnny Dowd has been patrolling the dark, uneasy, unclassified byways and B-roads of the American heartlands for over two decades. A blistering, uncompromising guitar slinger and songwriter, Dowd is set to release his new album ‘Family Picnic’ this month, an ‘americana’ gem that returns to the topics and themes that inspired his legendary debut, ‘Wrong Side Of Memphis‘ and once again underlines Dowd as one of America’s true musical explorers. Americana-UK catches up with him as he prepares to embark on another European tour and asks him about the music that accompanies any such road trip.

So Johnny, how’s life on the road for you and what’s in that glovebox?

There comes a time on every tour when the next drive is too far, your emotional tank is nearly empty, and you can think of nothing but your mortality. At that point, you pull out ZZ Top’s ‘Greatest Hits,’ and you are again ready to conquer the world.

After a gig I want to hear something as far away from the music I played as possible. Sun Ra fits the bill. Any Sun Ra album. It doesn’t matter. He is the tallest giant in a universe of giants.

Today is an easy drive. You feel like you are not a day over 60. In other words, all is groovy. It’s time for Grant Green’s ‘Ain’t it Funky Now.’ Funky and sophisticated.

One of the first albums I bought was James Brown, Live at the Apollo. The very first album I bought was by Percy Faith. I don’t know what that was about. I do love a string section. So many great James Brown albums, but I guess James Brown Live at Paris Olympia 1971 has got to be high on the list. Speaking of high, I don’t know what the band was on, but some of those tempos are ridiculous.

This is another album that’s good after a greasy English breakfast. Incredible playing, uber funky, socially interesting. Of course I’m talking about ‘Headhunters,’ Herbie Hancock. Anything you can do, he can do better.

It’s that boring time after sound check and dinner. You really have nothing left to say to your band mates, let alone strangers. I might go to the van for some alone time and listen to Mary Wells, ‘All the Best.’ This album is like a time machine for me. I can usually only listen to a couple of songs before I start getting too emotional. Then it’s time for a brewski.

Any time is a perfect time to play this record. You could listen to it before your greasy English breakfast, just to get your mind and belly in alignment. ‘Paid in Full,’ Eric B. and Rakim. (Have I mentioned Betty Davis, the woman who put the funk in Miles?) ( Yes, MANY times…. ed.)

Late night. Trying to find the hotel. Lost. Twenty minute drive turns into an hour-and-a-half. No problem. ‘The Very Best of ‘ Johnny Guitar Watson (Rhino Records) will keep you focussed, relaxed, and alert. I just love his guitar playing.

You have a day off. You would prefer to stay in your motel room and watch tv. But your band mates want to drive somewhere to see ancient ruins. What can you do? Dial up some Sonny Sharrock, ‘Ask the Ages.’ This album affects me the way The Dark Side of the Moon affects hippies.

Sometimes, hopefully only once per tour, you are lying in bed in your motel room, it’s 3 AM, and sleep is impossible. You are engulfed in an ocean of loneliness and regret, and there is only one album that really captures that feeling: ‘Only the Lonely,’ Frank Sinatra. But if it’s the last day of the tour, and you are headed to the airport, then the only album to play is his ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers.’ Boundless swinging optimism. So that is touring. Hours of great music in the van. Followed by a gig, motel, breakfast. Repeat.

The Making of Family Picnic

 

Mark your calendars-John’s official CD release and bonus Family Art show opening is March 1 at the Grayhaven in Ithaca, a venue making a really interesting cultural addition to the Ithaca scene . You’ll get to see a new expression of John’s wack sensibility, and a peek at his genetic co-conspirators talents as well. To top it all off, profit from the art sales goes to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. (That right, it’s yet another Dowd bringing that great cause to the table).

Thanks to Low Profile for making it happen…

                                                                                 – Ed.

 

UPDATE FROM JOHNNY’S SITE:
Michael Edmondson and I are gearing up to cross the Atlantic with a whole passel of new tunes, along with some oldies and a couple of great covers. I’ll be bringing my buddy Park Doing to open for some of the shows. He’s wackier than I am, if you can believe that. The new record, “Family Picnic,” will be available March 1— at all the usual digital outlets and on CD at my site and on tour. Buy it!

Photo by Kat Dalton
Tour schedule: www.johnnydowd.com/tour/

Image may contain: John Dowd, standing and sunglasses

 

A Retrospective look at the making of FAMILY PICNIC

Johnny Dowd: new album in the Spring

photo: Kat Dalton

The new Johnny Dowd record is still a work in progress, but so far everything is going as planned and it should be available next Spring:

Headed into the studio yesterday to put the icing on the cake — that would be Kim Sherwood-Caso’s vocals. She totally nailed it. I’m really pleased with how the record is turning out. Roots rock, if you can believe that. Lots of guitar, courtesy of Mike Edmondson. Will release the CD in the spring.

 

Johnny and Rocket -WRFI radio Fri 11/16 7-9pm

                       The Rocket Morton Show
                                     WRFI Community Radio

Raw power from the old school, some familiar, most not, all killer no filler. Wild R&B shouters, lysergic weirdos, avant-garage, hillbillies, rockabillies, funky freaks, soul crooners, outsiders, acid blues, odds & ends served up by your host with the most Rocket Morton.

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>  Johnny on the radio, always unpredictable<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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

Wrapping up the Twinkle Tour

“on the final leg of super fun euro tour–i want to thank all the peeps who came to the shows–it was blast playing for you–also thanks to melle and suze–u were/are incredible–and to joost who kept the whole machine running–and course mike who played like a demon—special thanks to kat dalton–without her there would be no johnny tours or music career–and to to dave hinkle who keeps zolar moving co. going—and to jenifer edmondson-[ace blogger and merch salesman]”

Johnny Dowd

Check out Melle’s blog for his behind the scenes take on the Feeling Bad tour and Johnny Dowd.. You’ll have to scroll to get to the tour,because Melle is a busy,creative guy, so I suggest you read from the top and see what he and Suzanne are up to these days. Here’s some excerpts to whet your appetite:

Temporary Bandage # 29

January 25, 2018

After the uncomfortable handshake, the Americans are in the car. John and Mike. With bags so big that there might be more Americans. It just fits.
I drive a bit. John sees a truck on the way. For piano transport. He knows that moving pianos in the Netherlands is difficult. Those narrow stairs in those high houses. Pianos need to go outside the houses around the houses. Mike knows that Dutch houses sometimes have hooks where they can lift pianos.
I finally know the way again. And bring them to their temporary home. It is a nice house.
In the evening we practice in the attic of their house.
We are going through songs.

Wayfairing Stranger
Wreck on the Highway
Clementine (I think I think the best sentence in a song is)
Worried man blues
Tom Dooley (That sang my father and he taught me guitar)
And another one I now forgotten.
Singing together twinned and everything that goes wrong is much nicer than what sounds good.
On to the Altstad in Eindhoven!

A bit of a cunt photo, but my phone fell out and was not possible again.

johnny1

Temporary Bandage # 34

January 30, 2018

On a sign it says that it is one of the oldest Christian settlements in Europe. It is a beautiful, London church where we play. Out of stock. On a Monday night. That’s because of johnny. Suus and me see them for the first time. Almost all my CDs have been sold afterwards. So many enthusiastic people, that I’m going to think something is wrong. It is a great experience.

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Afterwards the after party in the hotel room of Johnny and Mike.

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