Focus on Low Profile: JT and John

JT and John, brothers from another mother

Staples: JT Tompkins
By Marjorie Olds
Oct 17, 2018

Many readers have been out of town, even out of the country when they need emergency tech assistance: They’ve washed their iPhone in with their clothes. They spill coffee on their keyboard.They forgot their charging cable. So, they make their way to a Staples store and feel comforted that everything seems familiar.

While chatting with JT Tompkins, manager of the Staples store in Ithaca someone comes in with their computer for a free intake analysis: How is the computer running? It takes no persuasion for the owner to spring for the $10 PC Tune Up. Tompkins: “It’s like an oil change, available 363 days a year […] Customers come in with a dropped phone, a cracked screen, to purchase additional memory or software, to have a new computer battery installed, or to arrange work done on a hard drive…Customers love the fact that they can follow up with their equipment wherever they take it, since Staples is available pretty much everywhere.”

Tompkins grew up listening to Ithaca musician Johnny Dowd’s music in Buffalo; and for some reason living in Ithaca was a mythological goal for him. When a company he joined after college invited the then-single Tompkins to move to Ithaca, he packed his car and made the drive. When the opportunity arose, Tompkins moved over to Staples and has spent the past seven years in the Ithaca store.

“I always wanted to ‘Get to Ithaca’ and once here, I fell in love with Ithaca,” he said.

“Doing business in retail in Ithaca has its challenges,” Tompkins said, but the ebb and flow of population, following the curve of the academic year, has not daunted him. Helping staff when scheduling, transportation, family or health issues arise has kept his personal skills fresh. “I get to spend time with all the associates and I like that, since I’m a networker. When their needs are met, we can all be invested in the game.”

Many of the staff have been with Tompkins for some time, and quite a few who have moved from Ithaca transfer to one of the other 1300 Staples stores across the country, even overseas.

“As manager, when things are humming along, I also get a chance to talk to customers, and before I know it, they are coming back,” Tompkins said. “I’m invested in the customers’ experience and I love the interactions.”

(He admits that his store gets lots of good Customer Reviews; and to celebrate he fills the refrigerator in the staff Break Room with fruits and vegetables and snacks.  (Frozen snickers bars are a staff favorite.) Customer surveys count!

Staff note Tompkins’s enthusiasm for Ithaca influences their decision to succeed at work and to savor the chance to live here too. When not working, Tompkins is known in the community as a Festival Guy.

He and a core group of friends put on a concert series in Newfield, NY each summer. One of his sidekicks, Vanessa Greenlee, raises the funding through local grants. This year Tompkins’s hero, Johnny Dowd, played the final concert, while the Fall Creek Brass Band, Notorious Stringbusters, Road Man and Anna Coogan wowed the audiences in the Pavilion on Main Street. (“A scene right out of Norman Rockwell.”). Everyone has a good time.

Tompkins mentions the Grayhaven Motel as another cool, albeit unusual, site for shows: “Gina Keicher did a poetry show there via Low Profile. Great people bought the Grayhaven, updated the site, while preserving the kitschy charm of the place. Everyone loves this locale and all our friends loved the show.” (Tompkins confides: “I’m working on a gourmet chocolate tasting event there soon. Chimes of Bayonets will be doing a Low Profile Show at the Bowl-a-drome soon. So, stay tuned.”)

He explains that he and his buddies are not in it for the money: “None of the shows make money, but it’s one way to give back to a great community; and the shows are attended by a big, sweet group of friends. It’s very DIY. We think of something we want to share, and we say, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Piled on his desk are t-shirts for the upcoming Cancer Resource Center Walkathon, which Tompkins and friends from work and out in the community are supporting. He heaps praise on the CRC staff and knows first-hand how much it means to families facing down cancer to have the community’s support. Tompkins, his wife and son will be joined by friends and co-workers walking together.

Frequent flyers at Staples on Meadow Street note that his larger than life personality has made the Ithaca Staples unique.  He modestly agrees: “Even though we’re a big box store, I really try to run the store like a mom and pop.  Everyone has accepted me into this great community, and my goal is to add to it and give back where I’m able.”

 – Original article

(Ed.-for further insights, here’s an interview with local promoter JT Tompkins on WRFI.)

 

 

Fantastic chocolate tasting and Bowl-o-Drome shows mentioned above have already happened, but  never fear-there’s another bowling/show event on March 30. Meantime, DO NOT miss the Johnny Dowd official CD release and bonus Family Art opening March 1 at the Grayhaven. You’ll get to see a new side to 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…

                                                                     

 

 

Live @ Ithaca Musicians Office Party @ Maxies

Local musicians fundraiser and office party at Maxie’s-All Welcome!

 

;

Of course, we have no photos of the future show, but here’s some shots from last year at The Haunt. Johnny-centric as usual (per the blog name!) but a great show with many local talents. Check the poster-you can catch them again this Sunday!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Live @Newfield Music Series (and Bonus Casita Gig Gallery)

•Wednesday, the Newfield Music Series at Mill Park closes out with the double bill of Anna Coogan and Johnny Dowd, occasional bandmates as well as outstanding songwriters in their own right. The show runs from 6 to 8 p.m.
Jim Catalano,Ithaca Journal

 

This poster by John Driscoll is most awesome. We dig the sketch version, cuz,well, more realistic…. .

 

And for reading till the end, here’s the bonus feature-photos from the Casita show in July:

 

See ya there, JT!

JT and John, brothers from another mother

SHHHH…It’s a Secret

 

                        But we can tell YOU it’s in Trumansburg TONIGHT…

                                   Contact Chris Ploss for info!

You can check out the event on Facebook.

 

And here’s your bonus photo just for checking us out:

 

                         Now you totally wanna go shopping,right ??

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