Live @ The Greystones (Family Picnic review by Soundblab)

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 by Kevin Orton Rating:10

 

There’s never been a more apt description of Johnny Dowd’s mission statement than the title of his 2016 album, Execute American Folklore. Ever since his glorious wrong turn on Wrong Side Of Memphis, he’s been taking a chainsaw to the stuff. Last year’s brilliantly iconoclastic, Twinkle, Twinkle was no exception. His latest, Family Picnic is a homecoming of sorts. To Wrong Sideterritory. But if this is the sound of Dowd looking back, you’re in for quite a carnival ride.

The self-described, ominous instrumental ‘Hoodoo’ ushers you in, then we’re face to face with ‘The Man Of Your Dreams’. And ladies, he’s anything but. Then we’re given a guided tour of ‘Vicksburg’. One listen and it’s clear Dowd’s not only singing about the Civil War but the state of the union over the past 160 years or so. “It was war politicians and war profiteers, it was young men dying while the old men cheered,” Dowd drawls. What’s more, I can’t think of a more apt summation of today’s polarized political battlefield.

‘Shameless’ tackles aging with lethal doses of black humor. Some lines literally had me falling out of my seat. And that goes for much on this long player. Dowd’s wit may be dark and dustbowl dry, but there’s always a punchline right in the eye when you’re not looking.

‘Walking The Floor’ tackles obsession, revealing it’s little more than a self-imposed prison sentence. One’s cellmate, the funhouse mirrors of delusional thinking. Here Dowd rips the Stetson off Country Music cliché, revealing the nightmare underneath and never quite disclosing where the bones are hidden.

On ‘Stuttering Wind’ Dowd summons elegiac images of the dearly departed, crows and snow. Kim Caso Sherwood singing the haunting refrain, “All fear the stuttering wind.” “Miserable man knows the meaning of remorse, he wears it on the saddle of his bug-eyed horse”, Dowd grouses. Hard to say what this song is about other than mortality flying its freak flag in the face of everything.

‘Family Picnic’ introduces you to the clan, skewering family values in the process. “Little sister makes a salad and big sister waits for a call, Brother John’s in the bathroom, lord he’s climbing the walls”. The chorus asking the immortal question, “How much emptiness can you swallow? Would a six-pack get you through?” With its demented guitar and cast of legless, diabetic relatives, Tom Waits’ ‘Cemetery Polka’ can’t help but come to mind. If there’s any moral, “such is the cruelty of life”.

The gorgeous, ‘Dream On’ paints a humbling picture of remorse. “You called me a dreamer, but I’m all dreamed out. I’m just a whisper, I don’t know what I was shouting about.” Then chanteuse Kim Sherwood kicks in to duet with “bitch eyed baby, bitch eyed girl, all around my world.” It’s the closest we’re going to get to a love song.

‘Four Grey Walls’ tips its hat to the Jim Reeves classic. Dowd painting said walls blacker than an undertaker’s coat with bon mots like, “Sackcloth and ashes is what you should wear, the dream of love has become a nightmare”. As bleak as all this sounds, it’s Dowd’s sense of humor that keeps things from tipping into despair. If anything, Dowd stares despair straight in the face and then cracks a smile at it. As if to say, if you can’t laugh at this crazy ass shit, you’re going to just lose your marbles.

‘Conway Twitty’ is a demented tale of ambition in our shallow fame hound culture. Dowd’s guitar sounding like a warped trumpet doing a raspberry. And if its murder ballads you’re after, look no further than the black comedy of, ‘Little Jimmy’. “He was not evil, he was just a fuck up. Officially, I knew he had run out of luck.” Which may be putting it mildly. In any event, Jimmy’s wife slits his throat because she’s sick of taking his bullshit. Dowd musing, “Was he the master of himself or the slave”?

Without a doubt, ‘Back End of Spring’ is the most unclassifiable track on the album. Whatever it is, it’s haunting as hell. And what’s more, it rocks. Family Picnic ends with a countryfied tip of the hat to gospel legend, Thomas Dorsey. Dowd lamenting that in comparison to Dorsey, “I sing songs of lust and depravity, that’s the only kinda songs come out of me.” As his warped guitar fades out, you hear Dowd and Sherwood duet, “I wish that Satan would let me go.”  If this is the devil’s music, I’ll take it over Amy Grant or Stryper any day of the week. Here’s to ol’ Scratch hanging onto Johnny’s coattails for as long as he can.

 – Original Article

 

Live at The Bunker Elwood City PA

 

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Johnny Dowd is an American alternative country musician from Ithaca, New York. Typical of his style are experimental, noisy breaks in his songs and strong gothic (in the sense of dark and gloomy) elements in the lyrics as well as in the music. There is also a strong undercurrent of black humor and the absurd in his work.

We have previously only seen Johnny Dowd at the Fingerlakes Grassroots Music Festival in New York, & we are looking forward to welcoming him to The Bunker for what will be a rare and exciting opportunity to see this audacious, rockabilly-punk, poet-songster in an intimate house concert format. He will be accompanied by his former Neon Baptist bandmate, Mike Edmondson, on keyboards.

“Sometimes music shouldn’t be easy, and instead should be mysterious, idiosyncratic and the work of a true maverick. So we should welcome the arrival of a new Johnny Dowd album. . . . Never a man to run from the truth, if there was any justice, this guy would be a legend.“ — Acoustic Magazine (UK)

“Gonzo hell-bound music from a true original.”­ —Andy Fyfe, Q Magazine

Details: 848 Walnut Drive., Ellwood City, PA
Doors open at 6:30 for a pot luck dinner (food contributions are welcome but not mandatory) followed by music at 8 pm
BYOB

Donations will be collected – $20 per person is suggested, but feel free to give more 🙂 100% of your donation goes to the band…Your support of live music is appreciated!

*Please help to spread the word about this event by inviting your music-loving friends!!

Hope to see you on March 11!
The Klines

COMMENTS:

Yay, it’s Johnny Dowd Day!
This is THE DAY… the day that Johnny Dowd comes to Ellwood City, specifically to our DEAR friends the Kline‘s house… their basement, aka The Bunker.
It’s a little chilly today but the roads are clear and dry with no precip in the forecast… and the environment in The Bunker is climate controlled… in the best ways possible, WARM and LOVING. This will fill your soul, with the best food, companionship and MUSIC/POETRY you could hope for.
Please come join us, you may never have another chance to experience anything like this!
JOHNNY Dowd!!

Larry Franklin

— 02/03/2017 20:15
We haven’t seen Johnny Dowd in several years, mainly because we haven’t been to Ithaca, NY, where we have always seen him perform. Nor have we his last couple of albums, which we *will* remedy next weekend. We do have most of his previous remarkable recordings… but there is just nothing like seeing and feeling him live and in person, it is a *very* unique experience. A vibe like I have experienced nowhere else. He’s very popular in Europe but not so much in The States, which I personally see as tragic. We first saw him fronting Neon Baptist at the first Great Blue Heron Festival. Anyone who knows us knows that our favorite band, next to The Grateful Dead, is Donna The Buffalo… Donna played several times each day at the first Great Blue Heron Fest, and we did immediately fall in Love with them, but I can’t honestly say that I remember very much of their sets from that festival… what they played, etc… but I do remember every second of that mind-blowing Neon Baptist set. We have seen Mr Dowd at every chance since then, even forgoing the Saturday night Donna The Buffalo sets at their home base festival, the Fingerlakes Grassroots Fest, just outside of Ithaca, where he is usually scheduled opposite them on another stage. And each and every time has been well worth it, I remember every set of his we have ever seen, even the most highly intoxicated ones. 🙂 We have made several trips all the way to Ithaca just to see him perform. Now I suppose he is an acquired taste, he is “different,” he is dark, and he is Pure Art. IMHO. Not “pretty” art, high art… dark high art to the extreme. Johnny Dowd has been compared to Nick Cave… probably because he is so dark. Johnny Dowd has been compared to Captain Beefheart… probably because of the unique ways he uses words and sound. Johnny Dowd has been compared to Tom Waits… I myself do that often when talking about him… because of his artistic sensibilities, temperament and taste. But he is just unique, and incomparable. As far as I know he hasn’t performed in the Pittsburgh area before, which makes next week’s show at Kline’s basement, The Bunker, a premiere of sorts. Do yourself a favor. Take a chance. We are *extremely* excited that he’s coming here to Ellwood City and we hope that all the wonderful open-minded music fans who frequent this fine venue, and YOU, join us and thoroughly enjoy this… character. You have never seen/experienced anything like it. Check out some of these You Tube videos, open your mind, and fasten your seat belt….

Gary Johnson

— 02/03/2017 20:15
I live in Cincinnati. If it wasn’t for a work commitment on March 11, I would drive the 300 miles to Ellwood City for this show. That’s how much I appreciate Johnny Dowd’s music. You fans of adventurous music in Ellwood City or places closer to it than Cincinnati owe to yourselves to attend. Johnny takes various musical elements and twists them into his own unique musical vision. On top of that, he is a very engaging performer with a fine sense of humor. See him if you can!

Larry Franklin

— 03/03/2017 17:32
Hey kids… can’t beat a recommendation like this… thanks, Gary!: “Gary Johnson: I live in Cincinnati. If it wasn’t for a work commitment on March 11, I would drive the 300 miles to Ellwood City for this show. That’s how much I appreciate Johnny Dowd’s music. You folks of adventurous music in Ellwood City or places closer to it than Cincinnati owe to yourselves to attend. Johnny takes various musical elements and twists them into his own unique musical vision. On top of that, he is a very engaging performer with a fine sense of humor. See him if you can!”

Judy Cs

— 03/03/2017 17:32
Gary Johnson, he’s playing a house concert in Buffalo the evening before. PM me for details if you’re not working.
Judy Cs
— 02/03/2017 18:29
quirk·y ˈkwərkē/ adjective characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits. “their sense of humor was decidedly quirky” synonyms: eccentric, idiosyncratic, unconventional, unorthodox, unusual, strange, bizarre, peculiar, odd, outlandish, zany… Johnny Dowd, poet first, and musician, is an acquired taste. Do yourself a favor and acquire that taste. Check out this video from his European tour:

Larry Franklin

— 26/02/2017 22:57
I’ve mentioned before that Mr Dowd is much more popular in Europe than he is here, particularly in Sweden, Germany & The Netherlands… here’s a nice little article about him:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/5852ea02-04f4-49a9-ab8a-40555ac4c1d5

Susan Chikalla

— 23/02/2017 17:52
I’ll be in Wisconsin visiting family that weekend. Have a great time!!! Thanks for the invitation.
Milton Donald
— 23/02/2017 14:53
I hope folks int he Bunker will be prepared for something “different”. 🙂
Larry Franklin
— 23/02/2017 14:53
– this is going to be interesting. Most of Kline’s patrons aren’t very familiar with most of the bands they’ve had there but they’ve been very receptive. And positive. Of course most of the bands have been more acoustic, and many Dead-related. They have no idea what they’re in for! He will be by far the edgiest music they’ve had (it’s a pretty progressive town music-wise… I’m telling folks to think Tom Waits only edgier & darker) and by far the darkest. But, hey, WE know how good he is, let’s just hope minds stay open. I hope to get some of his music posted before the show so folks will have an idea what to expect (suggestions welcomed!), but I’m extremely busy and more than a little sick right now, so I’m not thinking clearly at all… we’ll get on that asap! 🙂
Milton Donald
— 23/02/2017 14:52
Been wanting to get to a Bunker show since you started. Maybe I’ll be able too make this one. Melissa has been wanting to visit Pittsburgh. I could warm up the stage with my song called… “Johnny Dowd”. Would be great to see y’all.
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Live Ithaca Underground Show at Cayuga Lodge

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We’re honored to announced the first appearance of Johnny Dowd on an Ithaca Underground event! As many of you are aware, Johnny has been bringing experimentation, black humor, & the absurd, with 20+ studio recordings, live albums, & EPs.

Jealousy Mountain Duo have cancelled their 45-day, US/Japan tour due to injury and will return to the road/skies in the fall. Please welcome Johnny as ample recompense while we wish Jorg a speedy recovery.

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POWERDOVE  Since its inception in 2007, the brainchild of Annie Lewandowski has grown from a band of one to one band: of color in a spectrum, of frequency between towers, of bodies reaching toward some abiding vision of nature.

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JITTERS  Tampa-bred instrumental math-prog duo that plays fast and futuristic melodies, with busy drums and sonic loopage scattered throughout their songs. Their sound is taut and nervous, full of abrupt, jagged instrumental twists and turns.

BRIAN! wields dynamic and complex compositions that pull influence from the Rock In Opposition movement, classical, jazz, prog, noise, and math-rock, all performed with a loud rock live intensity.
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Johnny Dowd: hometown shows in Ithaca

Noisy alt-country outsider Johnny Dowd will be performing two hometown shows in Ithaca this month. He returns to New York for a free show @ David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center on March 10 as part of the Independent Music Awards program. Also on the bill: indie art rock band Bent Knee.

Live dates:

» johnnydowd.com

HCTF review of That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse.

KLFM Reviews That’s Your Wife

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One of the happiest moments in the life of every critic arising from the unfortunate generation X is a fresh album Johnny Dowd. I let it go in the Constitution!

Zanemaromo you osredniji By the Gargon from 2013, three years after the excellent No Regrets, Johnny Dowd returned as good dynamic figure That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse. Remember that insane albums from 2012, with the titles of songs in the form of female names like Betty, Rita, Nancy, Abigail or Candy?

This leads us to two conclusions – em what Dowd clearly not gay, three years ago, is experiencing difficult moments analyzing his then not quite grateful position through the prism of some women who marked his life. But three years later, Johnny is bursting with life and creativity, and the name of the album can be viewed as a form of derisive phrase “Who fucks, I won and it is with me now!”.

Of course, it is subjetivno author view these announcements, but still there is something at the same time megalomasnko, relaxed and happy in this new album, even if happiness is deceptive term and often used a mask of melancholy and depression.

Dowd About Dowd does not need to write a litany, after his flair necessary (and only possible) to experience auditory sense. Therefore, dear listeners, deign to listen to one izvrstanalbum this top and unusual singer-songwriter, because you’ll just be able to make a personal objective judgment. A Dowdov work was well worth a thorough listening, especially if you belong to a group of purists who disdain and disgust view the coexistence of traditional and experimental. as in this case Johnny’s songs could you act on healing and enlightenment!

That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse is primarily album a variable character, which in turn may or may not suggest changes of mood (despite the fact that Johnny and I share the same diagnosis), but simply point to his already proverbial modus operandi. Johnny is in its earliest days was a typical country / blues singer-songwriter, but eventually in his compositions began to bring elements of lo-fi ambient, electronics, and to a certain extent and tastefully packed hip-hop.

This album expected flying over all these influences but also the sideways – has the fundamental rock, psychedelic blues, country, pop, playing with nerves slušateja, practically everything, but Johnny is his song masterfully scrambled in a meaningful series, and believe the author of these lines; if about Mr. Dowd know at least some basic things, and if you like to listen to Wrong Side of Memphis, Cemetry Shoes or A Drunkard’s Masterpiece, then That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse work that will truly delight!

-translation by Google (fine, YOU translate it!)

– Original article

Radio New Zealand reviews ‘That’s Your Wife…’

The review text is below, but you’ll want to listen to the show itself. Not only does Mr. Bollinger  have more to say, but he also nicely mixes in clips from the album.

                                      Radio New Zealand The Sampler by Nick Bollinger

 

 

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