Grassroots 2006 review by Luminous Dash

JOHNNY DOWD – Live At Grassroots 2006 (Mother Jinx Records)

By

Kris Verdonck

Johnny Dowd, de Jack the Ripper van de americana dook in zijn kelder en vond de tapes terug van het Grassroots-festival waar hij in 2006 met een vierkoppige band optrad. Eerlijkheidshalve denken we niet dat de zon toen scheen op die middag. In Dowd-City sterven de goeden te vroeg, blijven de mirakels achterwege, klopt de dood aan op Kerstavond en vervoert Elvis’ Mystery Train een kist.

Als een dobberman uit de hel bijt hij ons in het been, om ons pas drie kwartier later los te laten. Het viertal is goed op dreef, met drum/baspedaalwizzard Willie B. (aka Brian Wilson), Michael Stark op keys en Kim Sherwood-Caso op backings. Muzikaal gaat het de richting uit van overstuurde country en uitgeklede bluespunk, geflipte James Brown-funk en dronken walsen.

Afsluiten doet Dowd met God Created Woman: “Meet me in the parking lot, up on level three. There’s something I must show you.” We zouden niet durven instappen bij deze nonkel Van Grauwel.

 – Original Article

Johnny Dowd, the Jack the Ripper of the americana dived into his basement and found the tapes of the Grassroots festival where he performed with a four-member band in 2006. To be honest, we don’t think the sun was shining that afternoon. In Dowd-City the good ones die prematurely, the miracles are omitted, death is knocked on Christmas Eve and Elvis’ Mystery Train carries a coffin.

Like a bobber man from hell, he bites us in the leg, only to let us go 45 minutes later. The foursome is doing well, with drum / bass pedal wizzard Willie B. (aka Brian Wilson), Michael Stark on keys and Kim Sherwood-Caso on backings. Musically it goes in the direction of upset country and stripped down blues punk, flipped James Brown funk and drunken waltzes.

Dowd closes with God Created Woman: “Meet me in the parking lot, up on level three. There is something I must show you. ” We would not dare to board at this uncle Van Grauwel.

– Translation by Google

Live @ The Falcon

“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 Independent (London)

 

“While most artists play it safe on stage and stick close to the studio versions, Dowd and his band love to turn things upside down and inside out. Warts and all is pretty much their modus operandi. He’s a music critics’ favourite, and a cult artist with a fervent and vocal fan base.” – Hans Werksman / werksman.blogspot.com

“Dowd has made a career of making music full of piercingly bleak, hard fought, gnarled dreamscapes that make David Lynch’s tales seem like those of a choir boy. But just when I thought I had him figured out, Dowd delivers a blues record so beautiful that I cannot stop playing it. It is also full of demons that live on a merry-go-round with feedback and distortion taking the places of the painted ponies going up and down. Paradoxically, it’s his most accessible music in quite a while, maybe ever.” – No Depression (US)

This is a man clearly in charge of his musical vision, and that vision includes a broad grasp of rock’s so-called rich tapestry. Dowd ekes out noir-ish psychedelic blues, takes old surf riffs and slows ’em down to a funeral procession trudge, and yelps his way through “trashabilly”.

Johnny Dowd is an American alternative country musician from Ithaca, New York. There’s a strong undercurrent of black humor and the absurd in his work.His song-style style comprises experimental, noisy breaks and strong gothic elements, lyrically and instrumentally.

Check out Johnny’s latest album, Family Picnic (2019)!

Opener: Singer-songwriter, George Spafford

Live @ IMOP Maxie’s and The Best of 2019

MAXIES

Join us for a night of music and food to benefit the Tompkins family. Co-hosted by Mary Lorson and Mickie Quinn.  Enjoy music from Ithaca musicians, including Pierce Walsh, The Long Now, Sam and Mandy, Janet Batch, Jennie Stearns, Johnny Dowd, Venissa Santi, Wingnut, Strange Heavy, Billy Coté, Mary Lorson, and more!  4pm til close. Maxie’s will donate 10% of the sales that evening. Donations welcome!

HCTF’s annual list of the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for 

many years to come. As per usual many genres are represented. This blog covers a lot of ground and it shows in this eclectic, final tally.

Today: final countdown from number 5 to 1.

Please shop at your local record store, buy directly from the artist, attend live shows. Don’t block anyone’s view with with your phone (better still, switch it off altogether). Shut the fuck up while the band is playing. Educate your friends. Word-of-mouth can’t be beat as the prime source to discover new music.

2 Johnny Dowd: Family Picnic

A prime example of mastering chaos and turning it into art.

Family Picnic rambles and rocks, like a machine on the verge of breaking down, with Dowd’s ragged delivery seemingly barely keeping it together. But first impressions can be deceptive. Dowd knows exactly what he is doing and what will work and what will fuck things up in a good way. Take the singalong quality of Conway Twitty, a live favourite for years is presented in what appears to be a one-take wonder format – it’s that spontaneous. The title track is a depiction of family get together told in a husky spoken word way, during which he points at all the six-packs that people brought in were consumed as thing started falling apart. Back End of Spring is abrasive and foreboding, almost like a piece of musique concrète. Stuck-up Christians will frown at Thomas Dorsey, a twisted but heartfelt tribute to the father of black gospel music.

At seventy Dowd shows no signs of aging gracefully. He is without peers in his field, but his friends and fans are willing to put up with whatever he comes up with. Luckily enough, putting out a shit album is beyond his grasp. Family Picnic caters to the converted and there is nothing wrong with that. He is an incurable maverick, who is just too weird for the MOR Americana crowd to appreciate.

 – Original Article

 

H.R. Gertner’s “High Rank” End Of Year Top Ten Albums Review For 2019

I reviewed just over 50 albums for Americana Highways since July. The following represents my favorite records out of those 50 reviews: record of the year, top ten after that, and all the rest listed for reference.

7. Family Picnic by Johnny Dowd

Zoom in close to a rose bush and all you see is thorns. Although twisted and hidden beauty still exists within the plant. Welcome to the music of Johnny Dowd in all its thorny beauty. For over thirty years Dowd has been taken the unexpected path, an iconoclast with few mates. Family Picnic, Dowd’s 2019 release, finds Johnny tilling the soil of unrequited love, murder, and characters struggling to live a twisted American dream. As Dowd sings album closer Thomas Dorsey, “I sing songs of lust and depravity, that’s the only kind of songs come out of me.” Electronic beats, keyboard flourish, and what Johnny deems “ice-cream chords” drive a record composed of waltzes, shuffles, and boom-chuck rhythms. Dowd shifts between his bent-but-not-broke singing voice and a spoken word approach that succeeds where lesser artist would be chastised for “trying to rap”.   REVIEW: Johnny Dowd’s “Family Picnic”

 – Original Article

 

Americana Highways reviews Family Picnic

 

Johnny Dowd’s “Family Picnic”

August 28, 2019 H. R. Gertner

Zoom in close to a rose bush and all you see is thorns. Although twisted and hidden beauty still exists within the plant. Welcome to the music of Johnny Dowd in all its thorny beauty. For over thirty years Dowd has been taken the unexpected path, an iconoclast with few mates.

Family Picnic, Dowd’s 2019 release, out on Mother Jinx Records finds Johnny tilling the soil of unrequited love, murder, and characters struggling to live a twisted American dream. As Dowd sings album closer Thomas Dorsey, “I sing songs of lust and depravity, that’s the only kind of songs come out of me.” Electronic beats, keyboard flourish, and what Johnny deems “ice-cream chords” drive a record composed of waltzes, shuffles, and boom-chuck rhythms. Dowd shifts between his bent-but-not-broke singing voice and a spoken word approach that succeeds where lesser artist would be chastised for “trying to rap.”

The instrumental “Hoodoo” preps the listener for an unusual experience as electronic beats, carny organ, and electric guitar collide with a xylorimba. Dowd leans on reliable past collaborators on this release including Michael Edmondson (backing vocals, guitar, xylorimba) and Kim Sherwood-Caso (backing vocals), while he covers vocal, guitar, and keyboard duties himself.

“The Man of Your Dreams” follows, “I’m not the man of your dreams, that is obvious to all,” Dowd sings. “If you must go, go slowly,” he duets with Kim Sherwood-Caso. The two voices grate against one another initially, but like sandpaper they smooth and blend together, hypnotizing your ears. Vicksburg dives into a world that, “was live by the sword, die by the gun.”

Dark tales abound on much of the record; the darkness deepens in the loneliness of “Walking the Floor,” “people around me are so computerized, I see the fear in their eyes, I look at them, they look away, it’s just another horrible day”, he continues, “I’m sad and lonely, nervous and depressed, my life without you is a big f*%#ing mess.”

Family Picnic is a survey of characters that would be at home in a Harry Crews or Larry Brown novel. Four Gray Walls dark um-pa-pa like folk polka dirge is almost fun until the lyrical punch lands, “a doctor can fix a damaged heart, replace what’s been broken with artificial parts, but the damage you cause only God can repair, whether I live or die I no longer care.”

Before the record risks becoming too depressing, a goofiness slips into the mix on Conway Twitty. “I wanna make some noise, I don’t want no peace and quiet, I’m here tonight to start a mother f#$*ing riot, I love the bright lights of New York City and I want to be a star like Conway Twitty,” Dowd sings. Let’s Have a Party keeps the party going with 80’s era keyboard driven electronic beats and synthesized tones while Dowd sings, “let’s have a party, just you and me, weekend is here, now I’m free…life is so hard, working class, work week is long, money don’t last.”

While songs about longing, loneliness, missteps, and murder are nothing new to the Americana songbook or Johnny Dowd’s work, Dowd continually reinvents his approach to these topics in a way that finds renewed energy and purpose. http://www.johnnydowd.com

 – Original Article

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