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!


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).


  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

The Making of Family Picnic


Mark your calendars-John’s official CD release and bonus Family Art show opening is March 1 at the Grayhaven in Ithaca, a venue making a really interesting cultural addition to the Ithaca scene . You’ll get to see a new expression of 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…

                                                                                 – Ed.


Michael Edmondson and I are gearing up to cross the Atlantic with a whole passel of new tunes, along with some oldies and a couple of great covers. I’ll be bringing my buddy Park Doing to open for some of the shows. He’s wackier than I am, if you can believe that. The new record, “Family Picnic,” will be available March 1— at all the usual digital outlets and on CD at my site and on tour. Buy it!

Photo by Kat Dalton
Tour schedule:

Image may contain: John Dowd, standing and sunglasses


A Retrospective look at the making of FAMILY PICNIC

Johnny Dowd: new album in the Spring

photo: Kat Dalton

The new Johnny Dowd record is still a work in progress, but so far everything is going as planned and it should be available next Spring:

Headed into the studio yesterday to put the icing on the cake — that would be Kim Sherwood-Caso’s vocals. She totally nailed it. I’m really pleased with how the record is turning out. Roots rock, if you can believe that. Lots of guitar, courtesy of Mike Edmondson. Will release the CD in the spring.


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.

Nerve Magazine interviews Johnny Dowd – Live Show at Dumbulls


The Maverick’s Maverick

  • By Paul Tarpey
The Maverick’s Maverick

Interview with New York singer songwriter Johnny Dowd who is performing live in Liverpool on October 20th at Dumb Bulls on Dublin Street.

By Paul Tarpey

If you haven’t seen it before the USA is about twenty or so scattered clutches of tall buildings mapping out endless desert. But somewhere in this landscape there is space for madness to hide. Johnny Dowd is a Griot for these spaces. I’ve seen his type before. I saw Randy Newman at the end of the 70s. I saw Kinky Friedman in the early 90s. A quick check on the calendar has shown it’s time for more of this. Your comparisons for Dowd will be different so there is no point me telling you why mine are the right ones. We can discuss it after you have been to see him.

New York singer songwriter Johnny Dowd is arriving in Liverpool on October 20th to play Howl At The Moon at the perfect Dumb Bulls in Dublin Street. He isn’t as well-known as most of the comparisons but he may well be one day so go fuck yourself if you missed your chance to see him in his natural habitat.

His stuff is generally listed as a kind of Americana but the music is really just there to punch his fables deep into your spleen. And he’ll use whatever weapon is at hand. The man himself (spoiler alert) has suggested that his song Betty will give you some kind of an idea. I won’t argue with that although you might want to try Sexual Revolution from his new album Execute American Folklore as well to sample the ragged guitar and beats shrouding his deadpan dark humour. He is a man of over sixty years but that time hasn’t been spent obsessing on the music biz. You will hear real life and you’ll shudder at the recognition. It really would be an absolute bastard of an event to skip.

Tickets are available from Probe Records or here

If you want to know where the glorious Dumb Bulls is then follow this link. And read this exclusively exclusive interview:

What should fans expect from the new album?
Tuff beats/honest lyrics. If u don’t like one song don’t give up, the next song will be in a somewhat different style. It’s a good record to drive around in yer car and and drink beer or get high. Like they used to say on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, it’s got a good beat and u can dance to it.

What was the process it took to fund it?
My wife, Kat Dalton, set me up with and ran an indiegogo campaign. People responded. They opened up their hearts and their wallets.

How does he feel about his songs being labelled as ‘uncategorisable’?
Fine with me, a great compliment. I understand why someone would dislike my music, it makes them uncomfortable. It’s a mix of ingredients that don’t seem to go together, like marshmallows and Mexican food. Possibly people that dig my tunes enter into the same space/ time continuum where/when the music was created, I guess you’d have ask a “fan”.
I grew up in the 50”s and 60”s in a small town in Oklahoma, Paul’s Valley, I haven’t changed much since then.

His lyrics could stand alone. Has this opened up other areas of writing?
I could never write a novel. I’ve written poems but they are the same as my lyrics. I guess they could be thought of as story poems—poems to read aloud in bar full of drunk people. I can write more complex lyrics because I am unencumbered by melodic restrictions. I can’t sing.

Does humour always emerge from the stories or does he just want to make people laugh?
Absolutely both. Probably more than the shared space/time continuum as far as why someone would like my music is a shared sense of humor. I do love to make people laugh. At some point I would like to put a stand-up routine together. I do have one joke ready for this tour about a man with a large orange head.

What does he regard as absurd about performing and about life?
I’m always amazed just before I go on stage that I am about to do something and people have paid to see it. Life/death, u could call it absurd or u could call yer momma. In the end of the it won’t matter.

How does becoming a solo artist at a later age reflect in his music and the reaction to it?
I’m not sure I really started at a later age. I was 16 emotionally.
[alternate answer) I had a buttload of experience to draw on. Reaction to the music? u would know better than I. That’s one of great things about music. Age is irrelevant. In a marketing sense it’s a mixed blessing. I’ve never really thought of myself as a solo artist, my focus has been on being a good band leader.

How has performing changed over the years?
I enjoy performing more than ever. Before I hit the stage I say to myself and to my band members “let’s have some fun.” And we always do.

If he could pick one moment of serendipity that meant his music reached a larger audience, what would it be?
When I made the cover of Rolling Stone

How would it feel to be much more widely appreciated after he has gone?
Honestly I don’t really care but I would love to be more widely appreciated NOW

If he could tell the people of Liverpool to listen to one of his songs before coming along to the Liverpool gig what would it be?
Another tuff question? I’m going to assume u are familiar with my music so I’ll let u answer that. The song BETTY off my record NO REGRETS might be a place to start.

If he could tell them to read or listen to anything else what would it be?
Captain Beefheart/link wray/sun ra/james carr/sinatra
jim thompson/bible/william trevor/harry crews.

What are his expectations of a Liverpool audience?
Lots of pints being drunk and a request to do a Beatles tune.

 – Original Article


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 southern gothic 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.

Although his early albums were most celebrated in the alternative country community, he has never quite fit into any particular genre. As a singer-songwriter, his music is most often compared to that of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart.


In 2001 I pulled a CD off the front of a magazine expecting the usual wash of corporate indie and limp Americana. Instead there was a track called Big Wave by Johnny Dowd.

It sounded like something from another planet: Theremin style keyboard, surf guitar, tribal drums and a croaked lyrical tale worthy of Flannery O’Connor, of a man driving round a

dusty midwestern town with a surfboard strapped to the roof. Never leaving. A thousand miles from the ocean, but still defiant:

“I don’t care what they say in this one horse town/cos they ain’t ever surfed waikiki, when the big wave comes crashing down”

Expanding his horizons from the Alt Country pallete, his later work includes dirty keyboard grooves and twisted drum machines to go with the darker than black lyrical humour.

15 years after being entranced by that song, I have the chance to put on a gig by one of music’s true originals. You can be two types of “outsider artist”. The type people know about like Daniel Johnson or Tom Waits, or the type that still drives their own car across Europe to play at a tiny venue in the docklands of Liverpool.

Johnny Dowd is the latter, and this will be an extremely special gig. Don’t miss it.

Tickets online and from Probe records and Dig! Vinyl

Big Wave:

Appearance in documentary: Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus

Videos and info

Local Support added:

Dead Hedge Trio


Medicine Stu+Blues Steve


20 Oct

What does alt country mean to you? The term’s largely redolent of breezey Americana types like Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo and The Old 97s, but at the weirder end of the scale are the likes of Johnny Dowd. The 68-year-old’s music draws from the same well as the aforementioned trio, albeit with gothic undercurrents, chaotic discordancy, minimalist electronic pulses and an idiosyncratically dark sense of humour. This rare visit to Liverpool represents an unmissable chance to catch a maverick who’s pursued his own unique vision since the 70s: we strongly advise you to take it.
DROP the Dumbulls, 8pm, £8

 – Original Article


Execute American Folklore Tour – Patronaat



The Texan musician Johnny Dowd represents years almost single-handedly earth dark side of the country. As one of Willie Nelson gothic variant sings and he discusses his life and suffering in texts that are sometimes straightforward, sometimes absurd, but usually both. Like his literary counterpart Charles Bukowski he debuted late: not until his fiftieth he released his first solo album. On his album No Regrets (2012) Dowd treated several women in his life – constant innovator who he is – he put his strength in numbers with electronic beats. And now latest album That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse (2015), he crosses yet another middle finger to all prefabricated wannabe-a-lookalike bands where the music industry is so rich, since the invention of the wax cylinder …

Supporting act during (much of) the tour is creative folk centipede Park Doing.   Originating from the brutal caverns of the punk rock he never afraid to return, and leave as easily fixed and familiar paths as he walks. Adventure still exists, and Park Doing proves that – at a gallop!
(In English: Park uses looped live vocals and guitar, beats, atmospheric sounds, morse code, and other samples to create a very cool experimental folk music He started out as a punk rocker, playing at the famous CBGB and Bowery Ballroom in New. York. His current musical project is the space folk opera, “Woody Guthrie Meets the Sun”)

Photos: Cat Dalton

 – Original Article