reviews Twinkle Twinkle – CD Release @ The Dock Tonite 2/17

Johnny Dowd “Twinkle, Twinkle” (Seven Shooter Music, 2017)

New AlbumFrom beneath the waters of this dark and eerie sonic soundscape emerge some of the most well-known songs in the American canon. The songs on this fine album are as familiar as, well, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ – the title cut – along with ‘Tom Dooley’, ‘Oh My Darling Clementine’, ‘Red River Valley’, ‘St. James Infirmary’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’. But it’s a safe bet you’ve never heard them done this way. Dowd is highly original, even eccentric. Sometimes these songs, familiar as they are, can be recognised only by the lyrics.

This album is dominated by dark, deep electronic sounds, anchored by a heavy beat. Dowd is credited with playing ‘all instruments’, but there’s little here that will remind you of any instruments you’ve ever heard before. The vocals are also handled mostly by Dowd. But ‘intones’ would be a better word than ‘sings’. Mostly he just speaks the words.

This isn’t an album you’ll put on when your Aunt Clara comes for a visit. Nor will you dance to it. Of the 13 tracks, only the opening cut – ‘Execute American Folklore, Again’ – was written by Dowd. All the others are songs for the ages. There are no spaces between the tracks. One song sinks into the sonic depths; then, soon enough, a new song emerges from the electronic murk. While the album cover lists 13 tracks, this is really one 36-minute long meditation on the great American songbook.

Dowd, 69, didn’t begin his music career until he was nearly 50, when he released the album ‘Wrong Side of Memphis’, devoted to songs of sin and murder. The album turned him into a cult figure; since then he’s released one unconventional album after another. The music can fall harshly on the ears on first listen. But the album grows on you. And while it’s not dance music, it definitely has a beat – deep pounding drums punctuate the songs.

This, in short, is a work of creativity and imagination – the work of a highly unusual mind. You’ll hear some of the most familiar American songs of all time, reinvented as if they’d been run through a mad computer. But madness and genius are closely related. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ is an album that, over time, will speak to you in many different ways. This one’s a keeper.

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

AltCountryForum reviews Twinkle Twinkle

Johnny Dowd – Twinkle, Twinkle

New Album

Johnny Dowd – 69 years old, from Ithaca, New York – an ex-mover and a failed vocal talent with a large list of solo albums behind his name full of wrath with an experimental and industrial character. Not devoid of any sense of black humor and insanity. But hey, who has not gone crazy about his records with which Dowd terrorizes the music world since the 1998 debut “Wrong Side Of Memphis”? Again the eccentric Dowd on “Twinkle, Twinkle” is doing his utmost best, especially absurd and cut. to come over, passing the line from his previous record “Execute American Folklore”. A continuation with which he makes the connection with the opening track Execute American Folklore, Again . And that is exactly what Dowd accomplished on the album where he played almost every instrument. He does not turn his hand to genuinely kill a selection from the American and English songbook with unrecognizable frightening interpretations. And that’s what Johnny does with great pleasure. Stirring sensitive souls on rods and delivering nightmares. Fascinating, but also exhausting. Because “Twinkle, Twinkle” requires nerves of steel to keep the experimental drift of spoken word, bouncing bleeps, rudimentary beats, deep basses, synthesizers and a mud pool of primitive electronic instrumentation untouched. If you think you have endured everything, Dowd concludes with a number of quotes from the bible book JOB:

My days have passed; my thoughts, the possessions of my heart, are plucked up.

They adjust the night in the day; the light is near the downfall because of the darkness.

If I wait, the grave will be my house; I will spread my bed in the darkness.

I call to the quarry: You are my father! To the worm: My mother, and my sister!

Where would my expectation be? Yes, my expectation, who will see them?

They will suffer with the staves of the grave, when the rest will be together in the dust

Johnny Dowd & Melle de Boer

07-02: Haarlem, Patronaat
08-02: Den Haag, paard
09-02: Rotterdam, Worm
10-02: Utrecht, Tivoli
11-02: Middelburg, Kloveniersdoelen

(Johan Schoenmakers)


Johnny Dowd – 69 jaar, afkomstig uit Ithaca, New York – een ex-verhuizer en een mislukt zangtalent met een flinke lijst aan soloplaten achter zijn naam vol grimmigheid met een experimenteel en industrieel karakter. Niet gespeend van enig gevoel voor zwartgallige humor en krankzinnigheid. Maar ja, wie is er niet gek geworden van zijn platen waarmee Dowd de muziekwereld sinds het debuut “Wrong Side Of Memphis” uit 1998 terroriseert?Ook nu weer doet de excentrieke Dowd op “Twinkle, Twinkle” hard zijn best om vooral absurd en verknipt over te komen, waarbij hij de lijn doortrekt van zijn vorige plaat “Execute American Folklore”. Een voortzetting waarmee hij met het openingsnummer Execute American Folklore, Again het verband legt. En dat is precies wat Dowd verwezenlijkt op het album waar hij bijna elk instrument inspeelde. Hij draait er zijn hand niet voor om een selectie uit het Amerikaanse en Engelse liedboek op geniale wijze om zeep te brengen met onherkenbaar beangstigende interpretaties. En zo te horen doet Johnny dat met veel plezier. Gevoelige zieltjes op stang jagen en nachtmerries bezorgen. Fascinerend, maar ook uitputtend. Want “Twinkle, Twinkle” vereist stalen zenuwen om de experimenteerdrift van gesproken woord, stuiterende bliepjes, de rudimentaire beats, de diepe bassen, synthesizers en een modderpoel van primitieve elektronische instrumentatie onberoerd te laten. Als je denkt alles te hebben doorstaan sluit Dowd af met een aantal citaten uit het bijbelboek JOB:

Mijn dagen zijn voorbijgegaan; uitgerukt zijn mijn gedachten, de bezittingen mijns harten.

Den nacht verstellen zij in den dag; het licht is nabij den ondergang vanwege de duisternis.

Zo ik wacht, het graf zal mijn huis wezen; in de duisternis zal ik mijn bed spreiden.

Tot de groeve roep ik: Gij zijt mijn vader! Tot het gewormte: Mijn moeder, en mijn zuster!

Waar zou dan nu mijn verwachting wezen? Ja, mijn verwachting, wie zal ze aanschouwen?

Zij zullen ondervaren met de handbomen des grafs, als er rust te zamen in het stof wezen zal.

Johnny Dowd & Melle de Boer

07-02: Haarlem, Patronaat
08-02: Den Haag, paard
09-02: Rotterdam, Worm
10-02: Utrecht, Tivoli
11-02: Middelburg, Kloveniersdoelen

(Johan Schoenmakers)

 – Original site 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.

Feeling Bad Tour @ Rock Lobster 2/4


If you wonder whether you should attend tonight’s show at Rock Lobster, here are a few reviews from the tour so far to encourage you…

(And check out Melle’s ongoing report of life on the inside)

Anna Coogan presents The Blood of a Poet + Johnny Dowd and Melle De Boer – Live At TAPE

Secret Meeting score: 80

by Phil Scarisbrick

TAPE is community arts project based in Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay. It is a fantastic initiative to help creative local people in music and film get their projects made. Tonight though, their venue was the location for an intriguing concert, quite unlike anything I’d experienced before. For starters, we would be viewing tonight’s acts from the comfort of red leather sofas. There was no bar selling over-priced warm lager and no security to rub you down on entry. We took our seats at 7pm for the first act.

Anne Coogan is an American singer-songwriter with several studio albums under her belt. Here though, she is performing a soundtrack she composed for Jean Cocteau’s 1930 debut film, Le sang d’un Poete (The Blood of a Poet). Armed with a Fender Stratocaster, a pair of Fender amps, a tambourine and an array of guitar effects pedals, she provided the atmosphere for this avant-garde masterpiece. With a powerful sense of dread, soaring yet jarring melodies and hints of French nursery rhyme Frere Jacques, Coogan was able to create an emotional backbone to Cocteau’s stunning black and white visuals. It was a truly captivating experience.

Following a short break, the cinema screen was put away and Dutch singer/songwriter Melle De Boer took to the stage. Backed by multi-instrumentalist Suzanne Ypma, he sat cross-legged on the floor and sang his opening number, evoking Harvest-era Neil Young with his fragile vocal delivery. Now standing, the duo moved through tracks from De Boer’s latest album Temporary Bandage. This included Roof Above My Head – an Eels-tinged, synth –led tune – and Crow, a song De Boer said was about “how I killed my mother”. The music is pure Americana, with touches of Woody Guthrie and Son House, and more recently Alabama Shakes. The two voices meld together in a way that evokes Johnny Cash and June Carter to make this a thoroughly enjoyable set.

Final song Hold On builds to a huge crescendo and is the nearest thing to a ‘sing-a-long’ moment. Just before the song’s climax, the pair are joined by Johnny Dowd, Anne Coogan and a guitarist named Mike. They then took over the stage seamlessly as Melle and Suzanne left.

Dowd set the tone by announcing “We’re going to play some classic American tunes because, well fuck it, I love America. I know we’ve got our problems but who doesn’t?” before ripping into a powerful cover of blues standard, St. James Infirmary, with Coogan taking the initial lead vocals. They followed this up with a track that they announced they’d written in their hotel room before the gig entitled I Ate Colwyn Bay for Lunch. Sounding like Pete Seeger being backed by the White Stripes on a North Walian jaunt, with its chorus proclaiming – ‘I love the bright lights of Colwyn Bay/I want to be a star like Conway Twitty’ – a nod to the county of Conwy in which Colwyn Bay is situated.

Though much of the set was made up of covers, Dowd confidently owned them through his performance. His vocal delivery is sharp and every syllable sounds like a proclamation. I mentioned Pete Seeger earlier and there is a definite cross over in delivery style, but Dowd sounds like nobody but himself. I have read comparisons to Tom Waits, particularly the dark humour which tinges both his music and between-song chat, but his guitar work is pure Marc Ribot (Waits’ collaborator from 1985’s Rain Dogs right through to 2011’s Bad As Me). With its jarring, angular sounds, it almost ignores everything that is going on around it and occupies a space all of its own. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does to great effect.

The final song of their main set was Charlie Chaplin’s Smile. Coogan takes the opening verse, singing beautifully over sparse backing before kicking in and Dowd taking the lead sounding every bit as fun and raucous as Sid Vicious’ version of My Way. Melle and Suzanne then came back on for a final run through more American classics before closing on The Cuckoo. This final section was like an old-style musical review, basically a big jam with great musicians having great fun.

Though this music was tinged with elements of France, The Netherlands and Britain, it was pure Americana. Going into the event with no preconceptions other than a few Johnny Dowd songs I’d heard, I was mightily impressed with all that was on offer. If any or all of these acts are in a town near you, go and enjoy some fine musicians, making Americana great again.

 – Original Site

St. Pancras Old Church show

Crazy Crazy Nights

  • By Ernie Goggins  January 30th, 2018

I got my first gig of the year under my belt last night. I enjoyed it greatly, but I think it is safe to say that I’m unlikely to see anything quite like it again this year.

The venue was St. Pancras Old Church, and the headliner was Johnny Dowd. Support came from the Dutch duo of Melle de Boer and Suzanne Ypma (formerly of Smutfish and Woof Woof Ridicule respectively – no, that’s really true).

They were promoting Melle’s new album “Temporary Bandage”, from which the first track below comes. They reminded me quite a bit of our old pal from over the German border, Dad Horse Experience. Like Dad, there were a couple of songs about matricide, alongside more surreal ones about – for example – an abandoned smile that wrote a letter to its mother who drove over in a Lincoln Continental to rescue it.

Then we had Johnny himself, ably accompanied by Mike Edmondson on guitar. The first half of the set was what we had come for – mostly discordant blues riffs with Johnny hollering things like “Hotpants! I wanna get spanked!” over the top.

That part of the evening came to a close with an Oi! version of Judy Garland’s “Smile”, which one might charitably call a brave experiment that doesn’t merit repeating. Johnny then brought Melle and Suzanne back on stage to join him and, for the rest of the evening, we were treated to a set of American folk and country standards. Think Bruce Springsteen’s “Seeger Sessions” but with Bruce replaced by the crazy old man who stands at bus stops shouting at cars. “Tom Dooley” will never quite be the same again.You had to be there really. And I’m very glad I was.

Demons” – Melle De Boer

Betty” – Johnny Dowd

A World Without Me” – Johnny Dowd



Feeling Bad Tour @ PaRaDoX rootZclub 2/3



Als twee mensen lang genoeg graven komen ze elkaar uiteindelijk tegen. Johnny Dowd en Melle de Boer graven al jaren tunnels in de menselijke ziel. Als Orpheusen dalen ze af in de onderwereld en nemen met gevaar voor eigen leven de mooiste dingen mee naar boven. Nu komen die tunnels samen. December 2017 komt Johnny Dowd uit met een album met zijn interpretaties van Amerikaanse Folk klassiekers. Liedjes als: Going Down the Road, St. James Infirmary, Tom Dooley, Oh my Darling Clementine. Het zijn Traditionals, de basis van de Amerikaanse muziek. Johnny en Melle zullen ze bijna onherkenbaar brengen. Niet oubollig, maar zoals ze nu moeten klinken, actueel, vol ziel, elektriciteit en noodzakelijkheid. Ze spiegelen een directe reactie op de huidige Amerikaanse samenleving, met alle spanningen en onzekerheden die daarbij denkbaar zijn.

Melle de Boer brengt begin 2018 een album uit. Een solo album heel dichtbij zichzelf. Dit album wordt opgenomen op zijn zolder. Eenzelfde zolder als waarnaar de vader van Melle vertrok na zijn scheiding. Op die zolder wonen spoken. Spoken die liedjes fluisteren. Johnny en Melle gaan touren door Nederland. Ze spelen hun liedjes. Oude liedjes, nieuwe liedjes. Geen suf singer-songwriter avondje maar elektrisch, chaotisch, hard en lelijk, zacht en mooi. Alleen en samen. Ze combineren hun volstrekt eigen werelden om een onvergetelijk, maar vooral uniek optreden te verzorgen. Johnny neemt zijn gitarist Mike Edmondson mee. Hij zorgt voor een gedegen slaggitaar waar Johnny al zijn gekte en chaos in kwijt kan. Mike zingt ook mee. Melle wordt bijgestaan door Suzanne Ypma. Zij heeft samen met Melle zijn nieuwe album opgenomen. Suzanne is van de elektropop. De synthesizer heeft een belangrijke rol in het nieuwe album.

Johnny Dowd wordt al tijden een van de laatst overgebleven échte folk originals genoemd. ‘Dowd is misschien niet naar de vorm, maar wel naar de geest een late volgeling van de vooroorlogse blueszangers’ NRC 2001. Johnny Dowd (geboren 29 maart 1948 in Fort Worth, Texas) is een Amerikaanse alt country musicus uit Ithaca, New York. Typisch voor zijn stijl zijn experimentele, luidruchtige, pauzes in zijn liedjes en sterke gotische (in de zin van duistere en sombere) elementen in de liedjes en in de muziek. Er is ook een sterke onderstroom van zwarte humor en het absurde in zijn werk. Als singer-songwriter wordt zijn muziek vergeleken met de muziek van Tom Waits, Nick Cave en Captain Beefheart.

Vanaf 2001 is Melle bezig met het duiden van zijn ‘Amerikaanse’ muziek.Zijn band Smutfish, opgericht in 1999, heeft sinds het debuutalbum ‘Lawnmower Mind’ een omvangrijk oeuvre opgebouwd en bij verschillende platenmaatschappijen 5 cd’s opgenomen. Door optredens op onder andere Noorderslag, SXSW in Austin, Texas, de Popkomm in Berlijn en het Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg, heeft de band veel getourd door Nederland en Europa. Ook noemenswaardig is de tour met Daniel Johnston in 2007 en 2008. In 2015 vond de release van het album “Trouble” plaats bij het toonaangevende Nederlandse label Excelsior Recordings. De daaruitvolgende tour langs filmhuizen maakte duidelijk dat door tekeningen toe te voegen aan de muziek, de teksten beter begrepen werden, zodoende werd er een extra dimensie aan een optreden toegevoegd.

Melle de Boer

 – Paradox Rootz Club

When two people dig long enough, they eventually meet each other. Johnny Dowd and Melle de Boer have been digging tunnels in the human soul for years. As Orpheusen they descend into the underworld and with danger to their own lives bring out the most beautiful things. Now those tunnels come together. December 2017 Johnny Dowd comes out with an album with his interpretations of American Folk classics. Songs like: Going Down the Road, St. James Infirmary, Tom Dooley, Oh my Darling Clementine. They are Traditionals, the basis of American music. Johnny and Melle will bring them almost unrecognizable. Not quaint, but as they should sound now, current, full of soul, electricity and necessity. They mirror a direct reaction to current American society, with all the tensions and uncertainties that are conceivable in this respect.

Melle de Boer will release an album in early 2018. A solo album very close to itself. This album is recorded in his attic. The same attic as the father of Melle left after his divorce.Ghosts live in that attic. Ghosts that whisper songs. Johnny and Melle are going to tour the Netherlands. They play their songs. Old songs, new songs. Not a dull singer-songwriter night but electric, chaotic, hard and ugly, soft and beautiful. Alone and together. They combine their completely individual worlds to provide an unforgettable, but especially unique, performance. Johnny takes his guitarist Mike Edmondson with him. He provides a solid percussion guitar that Johnny can put all his craziness and chaos into. Mike also sings along. Melle is assisted by Suzanne Ypma. She has recorded his new album together with Melle. Suzanne is from the electropop. The synthesizer has an important role in the new album.

Johnny Dowd has been known as one of the last remaining real folk originals. ‘Dowd may not be in the form, but in spirit a late follower of the pre-war blues singers’ NRC 2001. Johnny Dowd (born March 29, 1948 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American alto country musician from Ithaca, New York. Typical for his style are experimental, noisy, pauses in his songs and strong gothic (in the sense of dark and sombre) elements in the songs and in music. There is also a strong undercurrent of black humor and the absurdity in his work.As a singer-songwriter his music is compared with the music of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart.

Since 2001 Melle has been interpreting his ‘American’ music. His band Smutfish, founded in 1999, has built up an extensive body of work since the debut album ‘Lawnmower Mind’ and recorded 5 CDs at various record companies. Through performances at, among others, Noorderslag, SXSW in Austin, Texas, the Popkomm in Berlin and the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg, the band has toured a lot through the Netherlands and Europe. Also noteworthy is the tour with Daniel Johnston in 2007 and 2008. In 2015 the release of the album “Trouble” took place at the leading Dutch label Excelsior Recordings. The ensuing tour of film houses made it clear that by adding drawings to the music, the texts were better understood, so an extra dimension to a performance was added.


– Translation by Google