New CD release and the 2006 Tour that inspired it

 

Johnny Dowd has dug up a rocking show from the past. Live at GrassRoots 2006, recorded in Trumansburg, NY in July 2006, catches him in full flight, with Michael Stark (keyboards, organ), Willie B (drums, bass pedals) and Kim Sherwood-Caso (vocals). He played quite a few songs that were unreleased at the time – the scary blues rocker Demons and Goats for instance would turn up on his Wake Up the Snakes album in 2010.

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, but it works like a charm. Uncle Willie comes barreling down the tracks like a runaway train. The Good Die Young, a song that became a highlight on the Hellwood album Chainsaw Of Life is a slowed down lament that hits hard. Miracles Never Happen is dedicated to his mother, who would be surprised that her son is still kicking ass today, a music critics favourite, and a cult artist with a fervent and vocal fan base. Drunk is skewed and lopsided, almost falling apart, with Kim Sherwood-Caso as the one who keeps it together. Performing a song with reckless abandon is what Johnny Dowd does best, but he is smart enough to take a time out after such a demanding oexxcursion and let “his band within a band” Tzar (Willie B and Michael Stark) plus guest vocalist Eva Revesz do their electronic thing with Don’t Drink the Water – that must have confused the hardcore folkies in attendance. Closing the show with God Created Woman, a song that was already part of the shows of his first band Neon Baptist and a stand out track of his Pictures from Life’s Other Side album he bade the audience farewell, after putting on a show that delighted his fans, converted a few and generally confusing and/or irritating the rest.

Live at GrassRoots 2006 is released on Mother Jinx Records and is available thru his website (and the merch table at his shows).

Tracks:

  1. Poverty House
  2. Linoleum Floor
  3. Miracles Never Happen
  4. King of the Jews
  5. Uncle willie
  6. The Good Die Young
  7. Drunk
  8. Don’t Drink the Water
  9. Demons and Goats
  10. Ding Dong
  11. God Created Woman

 

As you can tell from Hans’ review, the band was burning pretty hot, as is usual after coming off tour. We wish we had a tape of this 2006 show:

The Sun 2006 review

Speaking of great albums, did you miss this? It was a very good year…

 Johnny Dowd

By Listen Up June 14, 2006
One of 2006’s most intriguing discs so far is Johnny Dowd’s Cruel Words, a combination of poetic lyrics and funky rhythms, with synths, organ, bass, and guitar. Even with the music, the performances — half spoken, half sung — owe more to the theater than to traditional singer-with-band-onstage shows.

Celebrating cynical existentialism, Dowd brings odd stories to life: a wheelchair-bound veteran who questions the price of loyalty; a cowboy who shoots off his “member” because it’s the root of all his troubles; the suicide of a man whose lipstick-scrawled message on a motel room mirror claims he’s the “King of the Jews” — he lay surrounded by women’s shoes, a Telecaster, and, on the nightstand, an empty notepad.Fort Worth native Dowd grew up in Pauls Valley, Okla., pretending to be James Brown (circa Live at the Apollo) before moving to Memphis, where he picked up his first guitar and discovered Hank Williams as Luke the Drifter. Mix in bits of free jazz and psychedelia, and you get an idea what Cruel Words sounds like.

The songs occasionally — and purposefully — jangle like shards of glass in a cardboard box. Dowd’s creaky, out-of-breath voice isn’t a lot better, but the sum of the album goes far out and almost touches the ragged edge where interesting things can happen to music and listeners.

Dowd wrote a dozen of the 14 songs here and interprets bandmate and drummer Brian Wilson’s “Wilder than the Wind ‘66” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Dowd and his tight outfit turn the otherwise innocuous JBG into a vaguely ominous threat.

Cruel Words is an aural guided tour through a sideways world where nothing is pretty, it just is. The words and music work so well together that listeners can almost see it.

 – Original Article

 

Johnny Dowd: Cruel Words

Alan Brown   
“Mystery, oh mystery / Cowboy’s life is strange / Gets very existential when his brains are rearranged”, drawls Johnny Dowd to the accompaniment of vibrant ’60s retro organ and bombastic drums on the darkly comic opener “House of Pain”, about a philanderer who decides to take a gun to “that thing between his legs”. For the uninitiated listener, this opening gambit amounts to a baptism by fire into the nightmarish domain inhabited by Dowd and the array of desperate, murderous, and marginalized characters he has chronicled in song over the last eight years.

Ever since Dowd decided at the age of 50 to utilise the offices of the removals company he co-owns in Ithaca, New York, to record his self-released, stripped-down, country-blues-soaked-in-blood debut Wrong side of Memphis, he has rejoiced in portraying the seedy underbelly of contemporary small-town U.S.A. But even though the subject matter may have remained a constant over the years, his music has long ago wandered far from its initial raw blues path to incorporate free-flowing jazz and swamp psychedelia.

Cruel Words, Dowd’s sixth album and second for Bongo Beat Records following 2004’s Cemetery Shoes, is no exception with his penchant for country blues and retro keyboards serving as a foundation from which to build a wonderfully ragged fusion of otherwordly funeral funk (“Ding Dong”), hard rockin’ wig-out (“Cradle of Lies”), scuzzy electric-guitar-fuelled rap (“Anxiety”), and distorted penny-opera jazz (“Unwed Mother”) to accompany his profound spoken-word lyrics. It also comes as no surprise to find that the cowboy-turned-eunuch of the opening number is not the only disenchanted individual to appear in Dowd’s latest batch of excellent musical vignettes. There’s the disillusioned wheelchair-bound vet in the funky anti-war song “Praise God” who questions the sacrifice he made for a country that has no more need for his services. On “Final Encore”, Dowd, sounding like a burnt-out Nick Cave, paints a bleak picture of a suicidal musician’s final moments in a cheap motel.

Elsewhere, Jon Langford (who previously performed with Dowd on the latter’s self-penned song “Judgement Day” for the 2002 anti-death-penalty album The Executioner’s Last Songs) and Sally Timms of the Mekons join Dowd regulars Brian Wilson (former employee of Dowd’s moving company who plays drums and bass pedal), Mike Stark (keyboards), and longstanding back-up vocalist Kim Sherwood-Caso (who was sadly absent on Cemetery Shoes) to provide additional vocals on the country lament “Drunk”.

While you’d hardly expect this cacophony of woes to end on a happy note, Dowd wraps things up thrillingly with his longstanding live-set finale “Johnny B. Goode”, a hell-bound reinterpretation of the Chuck Berry classic. With Sherwood-Caso’s angelic backing vocals shadowed by a snarling, creepy Dowd, pounding keyboards, and distorted electric guitar that threatens to drive the song into freefall only to pull back from the abyss at the last moment, this provides a menacing yet exhilarating end to an enjoyably inventive and deliriously dark album.

 – Original Article

 

JDF would like to contribute a small collection of photos of the 2006 European tour, some by Mike Edmondson, some by Michael Stark and some by a photographer at a show ( if you identify yourself, we’ll identify you!):

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Live @ Lewes Con Club (Family Picnic review by No Depression)

 

TICKETS

 

Daughters, Motel Mirrors, and Other Upcoming Albums That Defy Expectations

Johnny Dowd – Family Picnic

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, its’s his most accessible music in quite a while, maybe ever.

“I am guilty as sin, of what I do not know” are about the first words out of Dowd’s mouth on the album, but it’s not so much about some spurious redemption as is it an observation about the quandary we currently find ourselves in. Then, digging even deeper, he pretty well sums up the Civil War in the next track, “Vicksburg.” Lyrically, Dowd seems to have inherited Leonard Cohen’s mantle, with Kim Sherwood-Caso acting as his Julie Christensen. Nowhere is more evident than on “Dream On,” where her counterpoint is so evocative. Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride.

  –  Original Article

How I Wonder What You Are

New Album

                                    Samples from the album  here

Red River Valley , that’s the name of the new Johnny Dowd album ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ that will be in stores on January 12th. According to the press release it is a playful album with recognizable tunes.

More info about the release can be found on ‘s mans website . Dowd is back on track with Melle De Boer at his side. That brings him eight times to the Netherlands, but Belgium this time (for the time being) left. So keep an eye on it.

  – Original article

The twinkle of Johnny Dowd is finished with his seventeenth (!) Solo album.

In his newsletter, the man announced that ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ became the title of the successor of ‘ Execute American Folklore ‘, which was published last year. The album appears on its own Mother Jinx label in December.

Dowd said the following about the development process: “I thought it was going to be my most important inside record, but at some point it would go on and on.”

Then there is an American tour as support act of Pere Ubu before he goes down to Europe. And that all promises to be “a little different”, but more details in that regard are not yet known.

 September 25, 2017                                                                    Patrick Van Gestel
 

Ithaca’s finest singer-songwriter Johnny Dowd has a new record coming up. Twinkle, Twinkle is a collection of public domain songs, It is being mixed and will be released in January.

He will be on tour in the UK and The Netherlands in January and February to promote the release. He will be sharing he bill with Dutch musician Melle de Boer. They named it the Going Down the Road Feeling Bad Tour.
– Original article

Been fun watching the album progress, not to mention Kat Dalton’s photos illustrating that progression. We re-present, in the original order:

Good stuff happening in Dowdsville.

“Twinkle, Twinkle” is finished. I thought it was going to be my most inside record, but at some point it leapt the fence and took on a life of its own. It will be released on my label in January.

All for now.

Johnny’s new album, ”Twinkle, Twinkle,” will be released on January 12, 2018.

From the press release by Del Day (Ark PR):

”Wonderfully playful, yet bursting with creative juices, ’Twinkle, Twinkle’ is an album only Dowd would be brave enough to make. These are tunes we all know—tunes we hum, sing-along to at parties, solid bricks in the pantheon of American song—yet you’d be forgiven for thinking that you are hearing all of them for the first time given Dowd’s startling interpretations. Against a backdrop of scathing synths and menacing beats, tracks like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ and ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ adorn entirely different guises. ‘Trouble In Mind,’ originally recorded as a jazz song in 1924, here broods like some kind of long-forgotten Tom Waits song remixed by Burial, whilst ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ plays out as a soundtrack to Dowd’s dark and inquisitive mind.”  

Above is one of the tracks for you to enjoy right now, “Red River Valley.“

The Euro tour starts on January 25. Tour schedule here.

Check out the latest Euro tour dates on the Tours page. Johnny will have his new album, ”Twinkle, Twinkle,” for sale at the shows. It will also be available at this site starting January 12, as well as digitally at all the usual outlets.

A CD release show is scheduled in Ithaca, New York, at The Dock, on February 17. Special guests are Anna Coogan, Kim Sherwood-Caso, and Tzar.

Live @ The Silver Line

Friday at the Silver Line Tap Room: 

One of Ithaca’s true legends, Johnny Dowd settled in town in the ‘70s and never looked back, creating a body of work, varied, progressive and sharp. His music ranges from open and free alternative country, to post punk, to wild experimental density. His newest album “Execute American Folklore” is bold and individualistic, with jaunts into electronic alt-rock, funk rage and avant-garde folk rock.

Execute American Folklore Tour – Week 3 and Then Some

We weren’t there (tragedy!), so all photos courtesy of Mike,Anna,Park and various Facebook Friends. Kinda in order, maybe not, but you get the picture…

First and often, the band steals it’s own soul,selfie-style:

And always, you gotta get from here to there:

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Then Johnny Dowd and the Sex Robots Rock the House:

For down time, we have:

Posers

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Camels:

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Cops:

Tourists:

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And lots and lots of sitting around:

Eventually, though, Real Life intrudes, flying everybody home:

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