Heart of the Beast with Pere Ubu



The show was about as well matched with an opening act as you could imagine—the rare appearance in these parts of Johnny Dowd, an authentic outsider voice in his own right, doing his own idiosyncratic  thing.

Raised in Texas and Oklahoma, living for decades in Ithaca, NY, he’s

created a bunch of weird spoken word, warped country, and neo-blues recordings that have lately been accompanied by the incongruous sounds of a drum

machine. Like Jim White (with whom he once formed a band a decade ago, Hellwood), he blends absurdist spoken word poetry and unexpected music for something that like Ubu, is in the tradition of Beat poets, jazz hipsters, and street corner savants.

Rather than being menacing as Thomas was capable of being, Dowd, 69, was goodnatured and laughed along with the absurdity, allowing his guitarist Mike Edmondson to begin with an a cappella Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good” (when clearly his life as a rock figure has been something else) before the sudden jolt of “I Crawled Up the Rat’s Ass.”

As in the handmade poetry books he sold on site, he could come up with sharp lines that stood out. He pretended to be a funk god as “The White Dolomite,” and deconstructed “Freddy’s Dead” for his own purposes. He and Edmondson almost seemed more interested in telling the dumb jokes between songs.

They even made fun of the hopelessly dated disco-era drum machine that backed most of the songs, suggesting we “give the drummer some.” But they won over the crowd enough to have them sing along to “I love the bright lights of Washington, DC; I wanna be a star like Conway Twitty.”

He ended the semi-sincere a cappella of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” before rocking out with a version of it, encouraging a gesture that  contrasted mightily with the headliner’s scowl.

 – Oringinal article by Roger Catlin, photos by Richie Downs


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Then it’s the PEre Ubu show and merch sales. Only thing lost on this trip: Johnny’s moustache. It was one snoop too many.

A quick shout out to  Franks Diner, latest of the fine diner finds on the road with Johnny Dowd.

Live at Casita del Polaris


Poster_Casita,Town Squares,20160901

Town Squares = LukeG\Tenor\Joe
Fuzzpunk oldies with noice 3-part harmonies

Johnny Dowd & the Sex Robots
Fuck yes.

Photo_Kat,Casita 20160901

Just how fun could it be? Check it out:






KindaMuzik Reviews The Paradiso show


– Original article

Johnny Dowd Excorcises the Devil with a Rythmbox
23 april 2015, Paradiso, Amsterdam

Author: Jaks Schuit
Published: 26 April 2015

Three minutes before the start of his show Johnny Dowd walks on to the stage. He chats a little with a few people in the audience and plugs in his guitar. Dowd had already been accused of killing American folk Music long before the release of his most recent album, That’s Your Wife on the Back of my Horse. It is what he enjoys doing, he downplays his own achievements and always succeeds in entertaining his audience.

Dowd opens his lyrics notebook and takes off with the title song of his fourteenth and latest album. During the next song Dowd’s companion guitar player breaks one of his strings. Mike Edmondson has to return to the dressing room to repair the damage. Dowd turns on a rhythm box and continues the show by himself. He requests the audience to assist him. ‘Holland has the best singers’, he says.

He starts the chorus of ‘John Deer Yeller’ and asks the audience to sing along with the line ‘Gonna love that girl, till the day I die’. When they start Dowd calls the singers ‘a choir of angels’ and he joins with the first verse. The song is concluded with a guitar solo that could have been the assignment for a very young student at his first music class. Dowd’s way of playing the guitar seems surprisingly simple, but always sounds just right. In addition he has the pleasant ability to sing a few false notes at exactly the right moment.

In the meantime his companion Mike returns to the stage and decides to take a break after a job done. Dowd puts down his guitar and recites the song ‘Drip Drop’. Each verse finishes with the beautiful sentence: ‘That was long ago / That was yesterday.

After each song Dowd chats a little and and manages to keep the audience entertained continuously . He makes a few dance steps and gives companion Mike another break. After approximately sixty minutes Dowd starts a christmas song. After ‘XMAS’ he stands up, thanks his parents, the audience, Mike and Prince. ‘Still one of the best artists on guitar’, he says. And announces his encore ‘Smile’ by Charlie Chaplin rightaway.

Dowd concludes his show in the same way he started it. He shakes a few hands and waves at the audience. Dowd is not a musician for a perfect show, but with a rhythm box and a fellow musician he is capable of entertaining any audience for over an hour. He is mocking everybody and mostly himself in the process. For his last album he wrote ‘The Devil Don’t Bother Me’, a song that fits him like a glove. Nobody is calling the shots but Dowd. Let’s hope this will be the case for years to come.

-Translated by Wieke Wagenaar (saving us from Google translate!)