HCTF Best of 2018


3 Johnny Dowd: Twinkle, Twinkle

Superb covers album by an artist who can own a song but disassembling and rebuilding it to make it sound like an original.

His take on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star will gives little kids nightmares and the unnamed male in Red River Valley is now a guy who is likely to kill the girl this time around. Dowd becomes a fire and brimstone preacher when he takes over John the Revelator, a part he reprises for album’s closer, the spoken word lament Job 17:11-17House of the Rising Sun is a song that has been murdered by many a poor boy trying to impress the fairer sex sitting around the camp fire. Dowd is the man who takes his instrument away without blinking an eye and throws it into the flames after he is done with it.

A good cover makes other versions sound bleak and boring and after listening to Twinkle, Twinkle any straightforward take will sound superfluous. What Jimi Hendrix did for Dylan’s All Along The Watchtoweris what Dowd did for these traditionals. He owns them and he won’t give them back now that he has completed his mission to drag Americana into the 21st century.

» Full review

– Original Article

Live on WVBR 93.5 FM Tuesdays with the Band


Today features Johnny Dowd. So if you start with a rock base, add a bit of punk and run it through a gritty synth filter, here is where you’d end up. Check out his album “Twinkle Twinkle” below and listen with us today from 6-7 pm!



Johnny Dowd: working on a new record


  • By Hans Werksman
  • June 5th, 2018

photo: Kat Dalton (Polaroid SX-70)

Johnny Dowd is working on his next record. Too early to tell what it will sound like at this stage, but it will see the return of Kim Sherwood-Caso:

Hello good people. Working on a new record. Pretty early in the process, but so far it’s sounding like a grungy garage rock thing, circa 1965. My buddy Mike Edmondson laid down some nasty guitar tracks, and I tracked some vocals yesterday. Speaking of vocals, I’m going to get my old singing partner Kim Sherwood-Caso on this record. Sort of a return to Wrong Side of Memphis, nice and raw. Anyway, that’s what it’s sounding like at this point. Don’t hold me to it.

HCTF review of Twinkle, Twinkle.

 – Original Article

Johnny Dowd Live @ The Horseshoe Tavern



“Imagine if Hank Williams had mutated into Captain Beefheart, acquiring a bunch of primitive electronic equipment along the way, and you’ll get some idea of where Johnny Dowd is at . . . Gloriously deviant.” – The Independant (UK)

“It’s weird, uncompromising and, compared with anything I’ve heard this millennium, certainly unique…beatnik rock, poetry, prose, jazz rock, rap, screaming metal guitar, retro pop, spoken word and country noir.” – MOJO

“There’s nobody quite like Johnny Dowd, a dapper Texan absurdist…like Charles Bukowski backed by a jazz-country funk shuffle…putting to shame artists half his age.” – Uncut

JOHNNY DOWD > www.johnnydowd.com/


Brian Sasaki & The Scuffed Souls > http://www.briansasaki.com


Josh Mover & The Shakers > http://www.joshmover.com/

Doors 8:30pm – Adv. Tickets $9.50 @ Ticketfly: CLICK HERE > https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1672963-johnny-dowd-toronto/

Twinkle Reviews

Blabber ‘n’ Smoke

A Glasgow view of Americana and related music and writings

Johnny Dowd. Twinkle Twinkle.

twinklecoverforsite460wJohnny Dowd continues to eviscerate Americana on this wonderful collection of popular songs from the past which are chewed up and spat out by Dowd in his unmistakable style.  The album opens with a manifesto of sorts on the updated Execute American Folklore (Again)and it’s hard not to express a chuckle when this Residents like  caustic surge of electronica mutates into  Dowd’s delivery of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We all know this lullaby but here it’s a bad dream vividly reimagined, more akin to Der Struwwelpeter than Disney with Anna Coogan’s operatic voice adding to the disquiet. Like a mad scientist let loose in a laboratory of steam punk synths Dowd plays all the instruments on the album; farts, parps, clangs and ominous hisses permeate the disc sounding like Krautrock meets the Clangers at times. Songs such as Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, Red River Valley and Tom Dooley are punched into submission. St. James Infirmary Blues is spoken like a beat poet suffering from a benzo famine and John The Revelator is full on biblical fury as the synthesized sounds beep and warble while there’s more biblical darkness on Job 17:11-17 with Dowd coming across like a Manson type prophesiser although the song morphs from its biblical origins into an electro funk invitation to a Friday night funky party.  Dowd’s reworkings of these songs are bizarre and challenging but  he’s  continuing in the tradition of others, taking the songs and adding his own distinctive twist. I challenge anyone not to listen to his take on My Darling Clementine without a smile appearing. Website

 – Original Article

Twinkle, Twinkle by Johnny Dowd

From TheSampler,Radio New Zealand 27 March 2018

Johnny Dowd sings a few family favourites – as you’ve never heard them before. Nick Bollinger wonders whether it was worth the risk.

Johnny Dowd

Johnny Dowd Photo: (c) Kat Dalton

Don’t look now, but I think we’ve got trouble. The folk club has just been invaded by a floor singer with a questionable sense of pitch, and I don’t know what that instrument is he’s holding but it don’t look like a banjo.

The singer is, in fact, Johnny Dowd, and he’s artist I’ve admired ever since his first record Wrong Side Of Memphis came out 20 years ago: a set of his own southern gothic ballads, delivered in a voice bordering on the tuneless and accompanying himself with a rough but effective guitar.

Twinkle, Twinkle

Twinkle, Twinkle Photo: supplied

The whole thing seemed risky, yet it worked, as though a character in a Tom Waits song had seized the means of production and made his own record. Dowd has kept making his own records – fifteen at last count – and kept taking risks. He’s flirted with different settings – including lounge jazz and, believe it or not, prog rock – but the music has always been imprinted with his dark, Bukowski-esque world view. Lately he’s been trying his hand at electronica. Oh, and folk songs.

‘Tom Dooley’, the murder ballad cheerfully popularised by the Kingston Trio, is a song Johnny Dowd might almost have written himself, and no one has ever made the narrator seem more convincingly psychopathic as he does during the spoken verses. But if that one sits quite comfortably in Dowd’s oeuvre, his ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’is truly disturbing, and it’s not the only time Dowd does serious violence to a song held by many to be sacred. He also has a crack at the popular 18th century hymn ‘Rock Of Ages’ that goes for hip-hop and the hymnal simultaneously and I’m not sure either survives.

It’s startling, absurd and ultimately a little exhausting.

Still, an artist who doesn’t take risks is less likely to fail but by the same token is only going to give you the same stuff over and over again. Dowd is a risk-taker, so it’s always different.

Twinkle, Twinkle takes a risk and doesn’t quite carry it off, which doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth attempting, or that this experiment hasn’t simply cleared the creative paths to make way for something extraordinary. I’ll be listening to Dowd’s next one anyway, just in case.

Twinkle, Twinkle is available on Mother Jinx

 – Original Article

Croatia’s KLFM reflects on Johnny Dowd

Johnny Dowd – KLFM

Johnny Dowd spada među one rijetke kantautore što unatoč eklektičnom pristupu ipak zadržavaju svoj nativni identitet, a rezultat sukoba tradicionalnog i modernističkog jest jedan od najoriginalnijih izričaja u suvremenoj glazbi!

Johnny Dowd je rođen 29. ožujka 1948. u Forth Worthu, Texas. Tako započinje praktički svaki tekst kojemu je cilj ukratko ili poduže proanalizirati život i stvaralaštvo dotične persone. No, navikli ste na pomaknutu strukturu ovih ‘najava’, i znate da autoru napisa nipošto nije cilj prepisivati sa wikipedije, niti iznositi općepoznate kronološke činjenice ionako dostupne u relevantnoj literaturi, tek uz napomenu kako su česte poredbe s Waitsom i Caveom apsurdne koliko i Dowdovi stihovi. Pokušajmo onda krenuti od geografske odrednice.

Već i ptice na grani znaju da je savezna država Texas zadnjih desetljeća iznjedrila ponajbolje američke kantautore; od Townesa Van Zandta, Willie Nelsona i Krisa Kristoffersona, preko Guy Clarka, Steve Earlea, Lyle Lovetta, Rodney Crowella, Jimmy Dale Gilmorea, Roberta Earla Keena, Billy Joe Shavera, pa do Scotta H. Birama i Justina Townesa Earlea – da spomenemo tek neke elemente te bogate lepeze.

No, ime Johnnyja Dowda se vrlo rijetko spominje u tom zemljopisnom kontekstu. Razlog tomu dijelom (no, uskoro ćete shvatiti – tek dijelom!) jest činjenica da je dotični još u djetinjstvu započeo onaj sveamerički proces mijenjanja lokacija i saveznih država – između ostalog, do pete je godine života već živio u Tennesseeju i Oklahomi. Neko je vrijeme boravio i u Kaliforniji, a u Memphis se vraća 1965., nakon razvoda roditelja, a te da bi se na koncu skrasio u gradiću Ithaca, New York.

Srećom, stara poslovica kaže da možeš potjerati stvorenje iz Texasa, ali nikad iz njega u potpunosti izbiti, istjerati taj čudnovati duh kojeg teksašani upiju rođenjem. Rekli bi pravnici, Iur Sole – pravo rodnog Sunca! Ipak, Johnny Dowd se po nečemu bitno razlikuje od imena navedenih na početku teksta.

Svi su oni, naime, stvorili prepoznatljiv stil temeljen na folku, countryju, bluesu ili pak kombinacijama navedenih utjecaja u varijabilnim omjerima. To se u određenom može reći i za Johnnyja Dowda, konkretno za njegovu ranu fazu, kada je djelovao unutar sastava Jokers s početka osamdesetih, te Neon Baptist ranih devedesetih. No, Wrong Side of Memphis (1997.), prvi uistinu samostalni album, odnosno rad koji je sada potpisan isključivo imenom Johnny Dowd donosi poprlilično drugačiju zvučnu sliku. Kompozicije izlaze iz očekivanih okvira često balansirajući na rubu prihvatljivosti, barem kada je o tradicionalnim okvirima riječ. Dowdova je nastupna ploča prožeta mračnom tematikom tipičnog southern gothica, i potpisnika ovih redaka podsjeća na Williama Faulknera u luđačkoj košulji. Može i ovako – zamislite da se radnja romana To Kill a Mockingbirdspisateljice Harper Lee odvija u paralelnom svemiru gdje američki Jug utjelovljuje nekoliko zadnjih krugova pakla, i gdje Scout u naletu ludila spaljuje Boo Radleyja u krušnoj peći… jeste li vizualizurali? Onda vjerojatno polako naslućujete ambijent ‘pogrešne strane Memphisa’. Nižu se balade o ubojstvima, griješnicima i prokletstvu: Welcome Jesus, John Deere Yeller, Idle Conversation, Ft. Worth; Texas, Ballad of Frank and Jessee James, Papa Oh Papa…, skladbe tek prividno odjevene u klasično folk/country ruho, jer sama struktura pjesama u simbiozi sa neortodoksnim izborom instrumenata – sintetizator, između ostalih – kreira sasvim neočekivan i isčašen doživljaj. Možda je opus kantautora Jim Whitea, koji djelovanje započinje otprilike u isto vrijeme (i s kojim će Dowd 2006. ostvariti suradnju na projektu Hellwood) najbliža poredba?

Ovo definitivno stoji, jer štoviše, Dowd će odigrati bitnu rolu u dokumentarcu Searching for a Wrong-Eyed Jesus, nadrealnoj priči o američkom Jugu koja je 2003. nastala kao plod suradnje scenarista Steve Haismana i redatelja Andrewa Douglasa, a po motivima Whiteova albuma Mysterious Tale of how I shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Scena u brijačnici je doslovice antologijska, kao i Dowdova izvedba pjesme Murder, sirovog dvoakordnog bluesa kojeg Johnny izvodi pod sivim nebom na groblju automobila.

Ukoliko je Wrong Side of Memphis najavio Dowdovu samostalnu karijeru, predstavivši već poznatog autora u novom, prigušenijem svjetlu, album Pictures from the Life’s other Side ide korak dalje. Ovdje Johnny već okuplja prateći sastav, koji ga uz određene iznimke prati i dan danas (primjerice na trenutačnoj europskoj turneji koja, očekivano, zaobilazi morlačke krajeve), što mu omogućuje daljnja eksperimentiranja u zvuku. Iskreno, jeste li sposobni predočiti teksaškog kantautora čije se kompozicije mogu obilježiti jazz festivale, ili se pak provući kroz tipičnu funky, pa i hip-hop DJ listu, svejedno ostajući u nativnoj folk domeni?

Albumi koji se nižu čitav novi milenij (spomenimo tek Temporary Shelter, Pawnbroker’s Wife,Cemetry Shoes, No Regrets, Do the Gargon i Thats your Wife at the Back of my Horse), zaključno sa dva zasad posljednja koji se taman promoviraju u našem sjevernom susjedstvu (Execute American Folklore i Twinkle Twinkle) možda i ne donose nekakav primjetan napredak u odnosu na očekivani Dowdov zvuk, no to i nije nešto čemu bi trebalo prigovoriti, pošto je njegov opus u cijelosti već pomaknut iz songwriterskog  mainstreama. Istina, na pojedinim se ostvarenjima Johnny u određenoj mjeri vraća klasičnom izričaju (klasičnom u smislu kompatibilnosti s ljudima čija imena, ponavljam, bodu oči na početku ovog napisa), no to su rijetki trenuci opuštanja, pošto će se on već narednim albumom vratiti u vlastite vode spajanja naizgled nespojivog.

O Dowdu ne treba pisati litanije, pošto je njegov štih potrebno (i jedino moguće) doživjeti slušnim čulom. Stoga se, štovani slušatelji, udostojite preslušati mali, trosatni izbor iz opusa ovog vrhunskog i neobičnog kantautora, jer ćete samo tako biti u stanju donijeti osobni objektivni sud. A Dowdov je opus itekako vrijedan temeljitog preslušavanja, posebno ukoliko spadate u skupinu puritanaca koji s prezirom i gnušanjem gledaju na suživot tradicionalnog i eksperimentalnog. Jer, u tom bi slučaju Johnnyjeve skladbe mogle na Vas djelovati iscjeliteljski i prosvjetiteljski!

 – Vjeran Stojanac       15/02/2018

Dark Side of Texas
Johnny Dowd is one of the few cantoutists who despite their eclectic approach still retain their native identity, and the result of the conflict between traditional and modern is one of the most original expressions in contemporary music!

Johnny Dowd  was born March 29, 1948 in Forth Worth, Texas. Thus, practically every text starts with a goal that briefly or aims to proanalize the life and creations of the person concerned. However, you are accustomed to the shifting structure of these ‘announcements’, and you know that the author of the writing is by no means the aim of rewriting from the wikipedia, or to make known common chronological facts already available in the relevant literature, noting that frequent comparisons with Waits and Cave are absurd as far as Dowd’s verses. Let’s try to start from the geographical point of view.

Even the birds at the branch know that the federal state of Texas has emerged in the last decades of the best American royalties; from Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, through Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovetta, Rodney Crowell, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Robert Earle Keen, Billy Joe Shaver, and Scotty H. Biram and Justin Towness Earle some elements of that rich array.

But Johnny Dowd’s name is very rarely mentioned in that geographic context. The reason for that part (but you will soon understand – in part!) Is the fact that it is still in the childhood that the all-American process of changing locations and federal states has started – among other things, until the fifth year of his life he lived in Tennessee and Oklahoma. For some time he stayed in California, and in Memphis he returned in 1965 after the divorce of his parents, and eventually ended up in the town of Ithaca, New York.

Fortunately, the old proverb says that you can chase a creature out of Texas, but never completely break out of it, expel that strange spirit that Teddy bears in birth. Lawyers would say,  Iur Sole  – the right of the native Sun! However, Johnny Dowd is essentially different from the names mentioned at the beginning of the text.

All of them have created a recognizable style based on folk, country, blues or combinations of these influences in variable ratios. This can be said for Johnny Dow, specifically for his early phase, when he acted within the Jokers composition from the early 1980s, and the Neon Baptist in the early nineties. No,  Wrong Side of Memphis (1997), the first truly self-contained album, or the work that has just been signed by the name Johnny Dowd brings a somewhat different soundtrack. The compositions come from the expected frameworks, often balancing on the edge of eligibility, at least when it comes to traditional frameworks. Dowdova is an inaugural board interspersed with a dark theme typical of the southern gothic, and the signatories of these lines remind William of Faulkner in a hijack shirt. It may well be this – imagine the action of the novel  To Kill a Mockingbirdwriter Harper Lee takes place in a parallel universe where American South embodies a few last rounds of hell, and where Scout in a maddening madness burns Boo Radley in a baking oven … are you visualizing? Then you probably slowly feel the ambiance of ‘the wrong side of Memphis’. Ballads of Murders, Sinners, and Curse:  Welcome Jesse, John Deere Yeller, Idle Conversation, Ft. Worth; Texas, Ballad of Frank and Jessee James, Pope Oh Papa …, the compositions are apparently dressed in classical folk / country costumes, because the structure of the songs in symbiosis with the unorthodox selection of instruments – the synthesizer, among others – creates a completely unexpected and exaggerated experience. It may be the work of Jim White, who works roughly at the same time (and with which Dowd 2006 will co-operate on the project Hellwood ) the closest match?
This is definitely because, moreover, Dowd will play a major role in the documentary ”  Searching for a Wrong-Eyed Jesus”, a  surreal story about the South of America, which came in 2003 as the fruit of collaboration between scriptwriter Steve Haisman and director Andrewa Douglas, and White’s album  Mysterious Tale of how I shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus . The scene in the barber shop is literally anthology, as well as Dowd’s performance of the Murder song  , the crude two-tone blues Johnny performs under the gray sky at the car cemetery.

If  Wrong Side of Memphis  announced Dowd’s stand-alone career, presenting a well-known author in a new, duller light, the album  from the Life’s other Side  goes a step further. Here, Johnny is already gathering a companion, which, with certain exceptions, is still tracked today (for example, on a current European tour that, by the way, forbids the Morlachian regions), allowing him to continue experimenting with sound. Frankly, are you able to present a Texan singer whose compositions can mark jazz festivals or go through a typical funky and hip-hop DJ list, still remaining in the native folk domain?

Albums that are down the whole new millennium (just mention  Temporary Shelter, Pawnbroker’s Wife, Cemetry Shoes, No Regrets, Do the Gargon and Thats Your Wife at the Back of My Horse ), ending with the two last ones that are just promising in our northern neighborhood ( Execute American Folklore  and  Twinkle Twinkle) may not even make some noticeable progress with respect to the expected Dowd sound, but that is not something to obey, since his opus has been entirely moved from songwriter mainstream. True, on certain achievements, Johnny returns to a certain extent classical expression (classic in terms of compatibility with people whose names, I repeat, point their eyes at the beginning of this article), but these are rare moments of relaxation, as he will return to his own next album the connection water seems unmatched.

There is no need to write a lithian about Dowda, since his or her mind is needed (and only possible) to hear the hearing. Therefore, listened to listeners, listen to the small, three-choice choices from the opus of this top-class and unusual songwriter, for you will only be able to bring a personal objective court. And Dowd’s opus is a worthwhile thorough listening, especially if you fall into a group of Puritans who, with disdain and disdain, look at the coexistence of traditional and experimental. Because, in that case, Johnny’s songs could have a healing and enlightening effect on you!

 – Translation by Google