Live @ Het IJle Land review by Enola.BE,HCTF reviews Family Picnic

Johnny Dowd :: Friday April 19, 2019, The Ijle Land, Ghent

20 Apr 2019

 Those who want to see them at work these days should go to the Netherlands or England, but yesterday there was another chance to see Johnny Dowd, the eternal maverick of roots music, live. Together with companion Mike Edmondson, the veteran worked his way through a bunch of blown up songs that remind you once again why you will rarely come across him in a traditional festival in the traditional media. More than ever, Dowd makes its own, unique mark on the songs that he offends.

The wild days, when he played a lot of shreds with a bottle of whiskey on the guitar amp in the AB Club, which has since passed. Today, Dowd drinks water on stage, although that in particular suggests nothing about the normality of his songs or their performances. The recently released Family Picnic was a slightly more digestible album after a handful of blown solo projects, but it remains an awkward combination of mangled blues, angular waltzes, mischief verses, broken family chronicles, run-up keyboard triads and plastic beats. It forces the music of Dowd to a continuous balance exercise, where tradition and artificial mutilation fight for dominance and it can eventually go in all directions.

It also means that songs are sometimes used as a starter that can be used to eat anything, rather than finished packets that have to be deposited in predetermined form at the feet of a listener. Just like his hilariously dry stories and jokes (sometimes the line between the two is paper thin), songs can derail or even crash into a concrete wall. Appropriate actually, since Dowd taps into many barrels of the American song tradition, including that of the “teen tragedy song” (“Teen Angel”). It does take charm and resourcefulness to get away with it, but let that be no problem right now. Such a Dowd cannot simply be upset.

The set was largely built around Family Picnic , the songs of which were performed in slightly rawer and austere versions. Here and there you missed the extra coloring or singing of Kim Sherwood-Caso (“Walking The Floor”, etc), but Dowd did have Mike Edmondson, who played solo and rhythm guitar, provided bass lines, but sometimes also provided the show could steal; with a solo performance of Sinatra’s pocket drama “It Was A Very Good Year”, for example, or the cheerful “Butterman Dance,” in which the audience was also involved. Here and there, Edmondson also turned out to be a skilled stringsman, just like Dowd, who regularly squeezed a nasty blues or funk of the strings.

But an ordinary concert, that will never happen. Dowd simply has too much fun wringing the songs and pushing things in the direction of Dadaistic performance, which will scare the blues of “Vicksburg” and “Back End Of Spring” purists. Bo Diddley (a medley with “Hey, Bo Diddley” and “Who Do You Love”), country legend Conway Twitty (“I love the bright lights of Ghent City, and I want to be a star like Conway Twitty”), the inevitable inspiration Thomas Dorsey, “Jesus Loves Me”, hip hop van den Action(“White Dolemite”) and a piece of sardonic jazz fumbling (“the same mistake over and over again”). But just like with the most recent album, despite all the relativizing craziness and disruption, you can feel that there is also a craftsman who knows his craft under that layer of absurdities.

That was most obvious in “Dream On”, dedicated to his wife. “What was it about me, you found so hard to understand?” He wondered. And for a moment it seemed as if the question was directed to the public. Did they manage to look beyond that mask? Are they aware of how liberating that mess with conventions works? Perhaps Dowd is a modern Tijl Uilenspiegel, a folk hero who has to make a point, to be found between outbursts of chaos, imperfections and frightening detours. Keep looking. Crazy Johnny Dowd, it remains a figure to cherish, an outsider worthy of the title.

 

Johnny Dowd

Johnny Dowd geeft al dertig jaar zijn eigen draai aan de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Al kan je hem niet op een genre vastpinnen want Dowd springt als een steenbok over en rond alles heen. Zonder zich van trends of hypes een fluit aan te trekken. Een unieke muzikale geest met songs die donker maar evengoed humoristisch zijn. Opgebouwd uit materiaal aangesleept uit de container waar ook Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart of Hank Williams wel eens langskwamen. En waar gitaren broederlijk naast aftandse drumcomputers staan. Johnny Dowd heeft net een nieuwe plaat uit en toert ermee door Europa. Komt dat zien!

Concert

Johnny Dowd has been giving American roots music his own twist for thirty years. Although you cannot pin it down to a genre because Dowd jumps like a capricorn over and around everything. Without worrying about trends or hypes. A unique musical spirit with songs that are dark but also humorous. Constructed from material towed from the container where also Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart or Hank Williams sometimes visited. And where guitars stand fraternally alongside decaying drum computers. Johnny Dowd has just released a new album and is touring Europe with it. Come and see! 

Dit is wat Johnny zelf weet te zeggen over zijn nieuwe album:
“I had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood -Caso – and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

“On these 14 new songs, Dowd, like America, has reverted to his dark, twisted country roots. In Dowd’s case, it’s a good thing.” — MOJO (4 stars)

Johnny Dowd: Gent added to European tour

  • By Hans Werksman February 28th, 201

photo by Kat Dalton

Johnny Dowd has just announced a show in Gent on April 19 as part of his European tour to promote his new album Family Picnic: “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 a critical favourite, an incurable maverick, who is just too weird for the MOR Americana crowd to appreciate”.

Johnny Dowd goes back to the distorted country sound of his debut Wrong Side Of Memphis on his new album Family Picnic. Mind you, he doesn’t go full circle, because he never follows a consistent path with his unique blend of Americana and banged up electronics, telling tales about murder, booze and revelry against all odds. Longtime collaborator Kim Sherwood-Caso returns to the fold to add backing vocals, nearly a decade after his Wake Up The Snakes albumMichael Edmondson rides shotgun on guitar. Johnny Dowd: vocals, guitar, beats, keyboards

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.

Michael Edmondson: guitar, marimba
Kim Sherwood-Caso: backing vocals

Family Picnic is released on Mother Jinx Records. CD’s are available thru his website (and the merch table at his shows).

Tracks:

  1. Hoodoo
  2. The Man of Your Dreams
  3. Vicksburg
  4. Shameless
  5. Walking the Floor
  6. Stuttering Wind
  7. Family Picnic
  8. Dream On
  9. Four Gray Walls
  10. Conway Twitty
  11. Let’s Have a Party
  12. Little Jimmy
  13. Back End of Spring
  14. Thomas Dorsey

 – Original Article

Live @ The Running Horse (Americana.uk interview)

Johnny Dowd with support by John Marriott

JOHNNY DOWD BRINGS “FAMILY PICNIC” to Running Horse.
Ticket : £12 (Door £15)

Thirty years on from his remarkable, indescribably dark and damn right startling Americana debut Wrong Side Of Memphis, legend Johnny Dowd returns to the roots rock arena with Family Picnic, his new album

Over the last thirty years, Dowd has been releasing records that defy trends, a unique catalogue of work that stands head and shoulders above many of his lauded contemporaries. Now in his seventieth year on God’s good earth, Dowd has lost none of the vigour, enthusiasm, and attitude that has seen him forge his position as one of America’s most inquisitive musical minds, a musical explorer who has charted expeditions to genre-defying destinations that, at their heart, question, challenge, and dissect in their own way notions of the American Dream.

Family Picnic is the first time Dowd has really looked backwards in all that time, instead of plunging forward into a sonic unknown with the playfulness of a child.

As Dowd says himself: “I had to dig pretty deep for this one.
Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick Tock!
This record took an unexpected turn to the past – my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

 

Van Life – Johnny Dowd

Posted on

Ithaca NY’s Johnny Dowd has been patrolling the dark, uneasy, unclassified byways and B-roads of the American heartlands for over two decades. A blistering, uncompromising guitar slinger and songwriter, Dowd is set to release his new album ‘Family Picnic’ this month, an ‘americana’ gem that returns to the topics and themes that inspired his legendary debut, ‘Wrong Side Of Memphis‘ and once again underlines Dowd as one of America’s true musical explorers. Americana-UK catches up with him as he prepares to embark on another European tour and asks him about the music that accompanies any such road trip.

So Johnny, how’s life on the road for you and what’s in that glovebox?

There comes a time on every tour when the next drive is too far, your emotional tank is nearly empty, and you can think of nothing but your mortality. At that point, you pull out ZZ Top’s ‘Greatest Hits,’ and you are again ready to conquer the world.

After a gig I want to hear something as far away from the music I played as possible. Sun Ra fits the bill. Any Sun Ra album. It doesn’t matter. He is the tallest giant in a universe of giants.

Today is an easy drive. You feel like you are not a day over 60. In other words, all is groovy. It’s time for Grant Green’s ‘Ain’t it Funky Now.’ Funky and sophisticated.

One of the first albums I bought was James Brown, Live at the Apollo. The very first album I bought was by Percy Faith. I don’t know what that was about. I do love a string section. So many great James Brown albums, but I guess James Brown Live at Paris Olympia 1971 has got to be high on the list. Speaking of high, I don’t know what the band was on, but some of those tempos are ridiculous.

This is another album that’s good after a greasy English breakfast. Incredible playing, uber funky, socially interesting. Of course I’m talking about ‘Headhunters,’ Herbie Hancock. Anything you can do, he can do better.

It’s that boring time after sound check and dinner. You really have nothing left to say to your band mates, let alone strangers. I might go to the van for some alone time and listen to Mary Wells, ‘All the Best.’ This album is like a time machine for me. I can usually only listen to a couple of songs before I start getting too emotional. Then it’s time for a brewski.

Any time is a perfect time to play this record. You could listen to it before your greasy English breakfast, just to get your mind and belly in alignment. ‘Paid in Full,’ Eric B. and Rakim. (Have I mentioned Betty Davis, the woman who put the funk in Miles?) ( Yes, MANY times…. ed.)

Late night. Trying to find the hotel. Lost. Twenty minute drive turns into an hour-and-a-half. No problem. ‘The Very Best of ‘ Johnny Guitar Watson (Rhino Records) will keep you focussed, relaxed, and alert. I just love his guitar playing.

You have a day off. You would prefer to stay in your motel room and watch tv. But your band mates want to drive somewhere to see ancient ruins. What can you do? Dial up some Sonny Sharrock, ‘Ask the Ages.’ This album affects me the way The Dark Side of the Moon affects hippies.

Sometimes, hopefully only once per tour, you are lying in bed in your motel room, it’s 3 AM, and sleep is impossible. You are engulfed in an ocean of loneliness and regret, and there is only one album that really captures that feeling: ‘Only the Lonely,’ Frank Sinatra. But if it’s the last day of the tour, and you are headed to the airport, then the only album to play is his ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers.’ Boundless swinging optimism. So that is touring. Hours of great music in the van. Followed by a gig, motel, breakfast. Repeat.

Live @ Foxlowe Art Centre (Daily Express reviews Family Picnic)

Thirty years on from his remarkable, indescribably dark and damn right startling Americana debut Wrong Side Of Memphis, Ithaca, NY, legend Johnny Dowd returns to the roots rock arena with Family Picnic, his new album set for release on March 1st through Mother Jinx Records.
Over the last thirty years, Dowd has been releasing records that defy trends, a unique catalogue of work that stands head and shoulders above many of his lauded contemporaries. Now in his seventieth year on God’s good earth, Dowd has lost none of the vigour, enthusiasm, and attitude that has seen him forge his position as one of America’s most inquisitive musical minds, a musical explorer who has charted expeditions to genre-defying destinations that, at their heart, question, challenge, and dissect in their own way notions of the American Dream. Family Picnic — once again featuring long-time cohorts Michael Edmondson and Kim Sherwood-Caso — is the first time Dowd has really looked backwards in all that time, instead of plunging forward into a sonic unknown with the playfulness of a child.

As Dowd says himself:
“I had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood-Caso and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

Johnny Dowd has released a number of critically acclaimed albums over the last thirty years and featured on all manner of compilations. His songs featured heavily in the cult musical documentary “Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus,” and Dowd has worked alongside artists such as Jackie Leven, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Jim White, and the Mekons, to name a few.

Family Picnic will be released on Mother Jinx Records on March 1, 2019. It will be available digitally worldwide, and the CD will be available at http://www.johnnydowd.com and on the European tour which begins April 4.

Support from Park Doing.

Tickets £12.00 in advance.

Doors 7.30pm.

Family Picnic Tour in April,CD Release @ Grayhaven

Johnny Dowd: new album “Family Picnic” March 2019; European tour April 2019

Johnny Dowd has finished his new record Family Picnic. Available in March 2019, followed by an European tour in April:

Hello everyone.

My new record, “Family Picnic,” is finished. Put a stake in it. Seriously, it’s pretty good. A little more in the roots rock bag than my last few discs. Waltzes, shuffles, etc.

The songs translate well when played live. You’re in for a real treat if you come out to hear Mike and me. Planning on a Euro tour in April (with record release in March).

                                                                     –  Original Article

JOHNNY DOWD BRINGS “FAMILY PICNIC” TO EUROPE IN APRIL

Thirty years on from his remarkable, indescribably dark and damn right startling Americana debut Wrong Side Of Memphis, Ithaca, NY, legend Johnny Dowd returns to the roots rock arena with Family Picnic, his new album set for release on March 1st through Mother Jinx Records.

Over the last thirty years, Dowd has been releasing records that defy trends, a unique catalogue of work that stands head and shoulders above many of his lauded contemporaries. Now in his seventieth year on God’s good earth, Dowd has lost none of the vigour, enthusiasm, and attitude that has seen him forge his position as one of America’s most inquisitive musical minds, a musical explorer who has charted expeditions to genre-defying destinations that, at their heart, question, challenge, and dissect in their own way notions of the American Dream. Family Picnic — once again featuring long-time cohorts Michael Edmondson and Kim Sherwood  -Caso – is the first time Dowd has really looked backwards in all that time, instead of plunging forward into a sonic unknown with the playfulness of a child.

As Dowd says himself: “I had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood -Caso – and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

With Family Picnic Johnny Dowd will be touring Europe in April:

TOUR DATES

                                                                                                   – Sedate Bookings

Johnny Dowd debuted about thirty years ago with a dark Americana album, Wrong Side or Memphis, and with Family Picnic he returns to that roots rock environment. The lyrics still have that black humor, just listen to the portrait of a family in the title song of this album, that would not make you happy, if he did not put it so funny. And that is actually why I have a weakness for this American singer / songwriter – he is funny and works on my laughter muscles, also with a song like Let’s Have a Party , where I really laugh irresistibly, how clunky those drums also may sound, or maybe that’s why. He opens with a very nice instrumental, Hoodoo, which immediately puts you in the mood for good murder ballads and songs about other misery.

Johnny Dowd is now seventy and is accompanied by two musicians he worked with more often, Michael Edmondson and Kim Sherwood-Caso, and that works perfectly. A perfect Americana album. Do not miss the tour that brings Dowd to Europe in early 2019.

  • Johnny Dowd – Family Picnic – Mother Jinx Records

Listen to a few fragments here:

Johnny Dowd – Hoodoo 

Johnny Dowd – Family Picnic

Johnny Dowd – Let’s Have a Party

Johnny Dowd – Thomas Dorsey

UPCOMING SHOW

 

You can catch John in the states March 1st at his CD Release and Family Art Opening. John will be playing with Mike Edmondson and Kim Sherwood-Caso (Park Doing opening), and JD’s kinfolk Jennifer and Jade will contribute arts & crafts . There will be good music, eclectic art work, some snacks, and lots of good company. All arts sale proceeds go the the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes (represented by JD Jyl along with her photobooth). A Don’t Miss event.