Pandemic Productions Presents: Johnny and Friends

Looking back, it’s been kind of amazing seeing the plethora of collaborative stuff that’s appeared online in 2020, aka the year of stay-the-hell-away-from-me. Where there’s a will there’s an app, I guess.

Hopefully you all checked out the great Hideaway video Justin Asher put together showcasing former/current/future/past/ongoing members of the Johnny Dowd Band (Mike Edmondson, Anna Coogan, Brian “Willie B” Wilson, Matthew Saccuccimorano, Kim Sherwood Caso, Michael Stark, Justin himself, and special guest talent Sally Timms). It was followed in short order by Thanksgiving Day, same crew. Which do I like better? I can’t say, but if you haven’t seen TD yet, be prepared for some wacky guitar work and music video action. No lie.

Justin tells us:

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I’ve been busy this quarantine putting together a virtual reunion with the past and present members of the Johnny Dowd Band. I spent much of the late 90s and early 00s touring and recording with them, and it’s been wonderful to reconnect and make noise together. This month we made a version of Johnny’s song “Thanksgiving Day“. May it bring you as much joy and introspection as it did for us putting it together. Check it out and spread the word. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hope y’all have a relaxing and safe holiday!
-Justin
(P.S. I mixed and edited the audio as well as the video. Apparently I’m a video editor now.)
 

 

Another collaboration produced Fine Time, part of the Conductors Tale by Rik Van Iersel, with Johnny reciting his poetry to music by Senga Etna and Johnny Dowd.

 
Neither last nor least, Johnny and his family did what families should do, and worked together for a whole series of art projects. Continue experiencing this cornucopia with more art and music videos.
 
And so it goes, keeping on keeping on. Hope you are, too.

Hideaway Video Release

Video

Take that, Pandemic Hell! Thanks to the wizardry of Justin Asher, Johnny has several of his band iterations getting together for a kind of quarantine version of the Last Waltz finale…except it’s not going to be a finale. Hold your breath till Thanksgiving, unless you’re busy screaming.

Hello good people.

Hard times and more coming. About all we can do is take it day at time. 

Something that really gave me a lift was the virtual reunion of my band: Justin Asher, Brian Wilson, Kim Sherwood-Caso, Anna Coogan, Mike Edmondson, Mike Stark, and honorary member, Sally Timms. We recorded “Hideaway,” which is about my mother. Lyrics by me and music by Brian. 

The project was Justin’s idea, and he organized and produced the whole thing — did all the audio engineering and created the video above.

It was so much fun, we’re doing another song, “Thanksgiving Day,” which should be done by Thanksgiving.

I’m still writing and recording. At this point, I’ve got more in the vault than Prince!

Stay safe, stay in touch, and see you down the the road.

— Johnny

 

Johnny Dowd Band eenmalig terug samen

Of hoe corona dan toch ook positieve dingen kan veroorzaken.

Ok, het was virtueel, maar Justin Asher, Brian Wilson, Kim Sherwood-Caso, Anna Coogan, Mike Edmondson, Mike Stark en erelid Sally Timms, ooit de band van Johnny Dowd werden eenmalig verenigd en namen zo Hideaway (zie hieronder) op, een song over Dowds moeder op muziek van Brian Wilson. Het project was een idee van Justin Asher, die alles regelde en produceerde inclusief de clip. 

En Johnny Dowd liet al weten dat hij nog van alles achter de hand heeft: “I’ve got more in the vault than Prince!'”https://www.youtube.com/embed/B3H5RA907F418 oktober 2020Patrick Van Gestel© 2004-2020 daMusic – Alle rechten voorbehouden.
daMusic is niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van de externe websites.

                                                                                                                – Da Music

Johnny Dowd: virtual band reunion for “Hideaway” video

Former Johnny Dowd band member Justin Asher got in touch with other musicians who have played with this musical maverick over the years. The virtual band reunion led to a video of them recording of Hideaway, a song from the Temporary Shelter album.

                                                                                                                 – HCTF

Rock the Wherehouse and AmericanaUK Interview

Sitting here at the Wherehouse getting ready to rock  the apocalypse. The bands were fed a nicely varied menu and appropriate quantities of liquid. George’s band goes on first, followed, we think, by Johnny Dowd and Mike “Jim” Edmondson.Lots of beautiful people have wandered in, but where to put the band? Chaos ensues.

Johnny checks out Georges spirit

 

Suddenly apocalypse is post, and George Spafford is at the mic.

Then John and Mike hit the stage without a pause, and don’t stop till they get enough…

Thanks to the Wherehouse for the welcoming space, to the friendly crowd, to the Freejays for closing out the night, and to George for his hospitality.

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.

 – Original Article

Americana Highways reviews Family Picnic

 

Johnny Dowd’s “Family Picnic”

August 28, 2019 H. R. Gertner

Zoom in close to a rose bush and all you see is thorns. Although twisted and hidden beauty still exists within the plant. Welcome to the music of Johnny Dowd in all its thorny beauty. For over thirty years Dowd has been taken the unexpected path, an iconoclast with few mates.

Family Picnic, Dowd’s 2019 release, out on Mother Jinx Records finds Johnny tilling the soil of unrequited love, murder, and characters struggling to live a twisted American dream. As Dowd sings album closer Thomas Dorsey, “I sing songs of lust and depravity, that’s the only kind of songs come out of me.” Electronic beats, keyboard flourish, and what Johnny deems “ice-cream chords” drive a record composed of waltzes, shuffles, and boom-chuck rhythms. Dowd shifts between his bent-but-not-broke singing voice and a spoken word approach that succeeds where lesser artist would be chastised for “trying to rap.”

The instrumental “Hoodoo” preps the listener for an unusual experience as electronic beats, carny organ, and electric guitar collide with a xylorimba. Dowd leans on reliable past collaborators on this release including Michael Edmondson (backing vocals, guitar, xylorimba) and Kim Sherwood-Caso (backing vocals), while he covers vocal, guitar, and keyboard duties himself.

“The Man of Your Dreams” follows, “I’m not the man of your dreams, that is obvious to all,” Dowd sings. “If you must go, go slowly,” he duets with Kim Sherwood-Caso. The two voices grate against one another initially, but like sandpaper they smooth and blend together, hypnotizing your ears. Vicksburg dives into a world that, “was live by the sword, die by the gun.”

Dark tales abound on much of the record; the darkness deepens in the loneliness of “Walking the Floor,” “people around me are so computerized, I see the fear in their eyes, I look at them, they look away, it’s just another horrible day”, he continues, “I’m sad and lonely, nervous and depressed, my life without you is a big f*%#ing mess.”

Family Picnic is a survey of characters that would be at home in a Harry Crews or Larry Brown novel. Four Gray Walls dark um-pa-pa like folk polka dirge is almost fun until the lyrical punch lands, “a doctor can fix a damaged heart, replace what’s been broken with artificial parts, but the damage you cause only God can repair, whether I live or die I no longer care.”

Before the record risks becoming too depressing, a goofiness slips into the mix on Conway Twitty. “I wanna make some noise, I don’t want no peace and quiet, I’m here tonight to start a mother f#$*ing riot, I love the bright lights of New York City and I want to be a star like Conway Twitty,” Dowd sings. Let’s Have a Party keeps the party going with 80’s era keyboard driven electronic beats and synthesized tones while Dowd sings, “let’s have a party, just you and me, weekend is here, now I’m free…life is so hard, working class, work week is long, money don’t last.”

While songs about longing, loneliness, missteps, and murder are nothing new to the Americana songbook or Johnny Dowd’s work, Dowd continually reinvents his approach to these topics in a way that finds renewed energy and purpose. http://www.johnnydowd.com

 – Original Article