Live @ The Greystones (Family Picnic review by Soundblab)

TICKETS

 

 

 by Kevin Orton Rating:10

 

There’s never been a more apt description of Johnny Dowd’s mission statement than the title of his 2016 album, Execute American Folklore. Ever since his glorious wrong turn on Wrong Side Of Memphis, he’s been taking a chainsaw to the stuff. Last year’s brilliantly iconoclastic, Twinkle, Twinkle was no exception. His latest, Family Picnic is a homecoming of sorts. To Wrong Sideterritory. But if this is the sound of Dowd looking back, you’re in for quite a carnival ride.

The self-described, ominous instrumental ‘Hoodoo’ ushers you in, then we’re face to face with ‘The Man Of Your Dreams’. And ladies, he’s anything but. Then we’re given a guided tour of ‘Vicksburg’. One listen and it’s clear Dowd’s not only singing about the Civil War but the state of the union over the past 160 years or so. “It was war politicians and war profiteers, it was young men dying while the old men cheered,” Dowd drawls. What’s more, I can’t think of a more apt summation of today’s polarized political battlefield.

‘Shameless’ tackles aging with lethal doses of black humor. Some lines literally had me falling out of my seat. And that goes for much on this long player. Dowd’s wit may be dark and dustbowl dry, but there’s always a punchline right in the eye when you’re not looking.

‘Walking The Floor’ tackles obsession, revealing it’s little more than a self-imposed prison sentence. One’s cellmate, the funhouse mirrors of delusional thinking. Here Dowd rips the Stetson off Country Music cliché, revealing the nightmare underneath and never quite disclosing where the bones are hidden.

On ‘Stuttering Wind’ Dowd summons elegiac images of the dearly departed, crows and snow. Kim Caso Sherwood singing the haunting refrain, “All fear the stuttering wind.” “Miserable man knows the meaning of remorse, he wears it on the saddle of his bug-eyed horse”, Dowd grouses. Hard to say what this song is about other than mortality flying its freak flag in the face of everything.

‘Family Picnic’ introduces you to the clan, skewering family values in the process. “Little sister makes a salad and big sister waits for a call, Brother John’s in the bathroom, lord he’s climbing the walls”. The chorus asking the immortal question, “How much emptiness can you swallow? Would a six-pack get you through?” With its demented guitar and cast of legless, diabetic relatives, Tom Waits’ ‘Cemetery Polka’ can’t help but come to mind. If there’s any moral, “such is the cruelty of life”.

The gorgeous, ‘Dream On’ paints a humbling picture of remorse. “You called me a dreamer, but I’m all dreamed out. I’m just a whisper, I don’t know what I was shouting about.” Then chanteuse Kim Sherwood kicks in to duet with “bitch eyed baby, bitch eyed girl, all around my world.” It’s the closest we’re going to get to a love song.

‘Four Grey Walls’ tips its hat to the Jim Reeves classic. Dowd painting said walls blacker than an undertaker’s coat with bon mots like, “Sackcloth and ashes is what you should wear, the dream of love has become a nightmare”. As bleak as all this sounds, it’s Dowd’s sense of humor that keeps things from tipping into despair. If anything, Dowd stares despair straight in the face and then cracks a smile at it. As if to say, if you can’t laugh at this crazy ass shit, you’re going to just lose your marbles.

‘Conway Twitty’ is a demented tale of ambition in our shallow fame hound culture. Dowd’s guitar sounding like a warped trumpet doing a raspberry. And if its murder ballads you’re after, look no further than the black comedy of, ‘Little Jimmy’. “He was not evil, he was just a fuck up. Officially, I knew he had run out of luck.” Which may be putting it mildly. In any event, Jimmy’s wife slits his throat because she’s sick of taking his bullshit. Dowd musing, “Was he the master of himself or the slave”?

Without a doubt, ‘Back End of Spring’ is the most unclassifiable track on the album. Whatever it is, it’s haunting as hell. And what’s more, it rocks. Family Picnic ends with a countryfied tip of the hat to gospel legend, Thomas Dorsey. Dowd lamenting that in comparison to Dorsey, “I sing songs of lust and depravity, that’s the only kinda songs come out of me.” As his warped guitar fades out, you hear Dowd and Sherwood duet, “I wish that Satan would let me go.”  If this is the devil’s music, I’ll take it over Amy Grant or Stryper any day of the week. Here’s to ol’ Scratch hanging onto Johnny’s coattails for as long as he can.

 – Original Article

 

Live @ The Dolphin (Family Picnic review by Rocking Magpie)

In late 2016 we were delighted to welcome the King Of Junkyard Americana, Johnny Dowd, to Bovey Tracey. A truly memorable night ensued and there are some great photos in the portfolio area.

We are very happy to announce that Johnny will be back with us in Bovey Tracey in April 2019 for another brilliant night. Don’t miss it!

See Johnny’s artist page for more information, photos and links.

Don’t miss the fabulous Johnny Dowd on tour from the USA this Saturday at the Dolphin, Bovey Tracey. Tickets from: www.southdevonmusic.co.uk.

 

Johnny Dowd FAMILY PICNIC

Johnny Dowd
Family Picnic
Mother Jinx Records

A Man Out Of Step Takes a Massive Leap Into The Alt. Past.

Johnny Dowd? It’s not fair to say that you either ‘love him’ or ‘hate him’ as it’s more, ‘you get him’ or ‘you don’t’. Mrs. Magpie gave me ‘that look’ last Saturday night when I played this on the stereo; which puts her in the latter camp; me…… bring it on kidda!
Dowd is now 70 and been recording albums for just 30 of those years; but those albums have helped change what we now call Americana Music for the better; as he has probably been an influence with anyone who put’s an Alt. in front of Country or possibly even Blues.
I will try to use the word ‘weird’ once; and keep the comparisons to a bare minimum; but right from the get go; opening track, the weirdly Jazzy/Blues instrumental Hoodoo sounds like something Zappa or Beefheart dreamt of creating put sadly failed, leaving it for Johnny Dowd set the new benchmark for Avant Garde Rock Music.
Over the years I’ve received quite a few albums by artistes trying to make music this interesting and fascinating; but all save a couple of songs have failed miserably; yet even on this Dowd’s 18th album it’s chock-a-block full of songs that will spin your head; but bring you straight back for more, more, more.
There’s so much more to Vicksburg than just being a history lesson; it could be poetry set to an Acid Jazz beat; or is that Alt. Country with a beat box? Who knows? Who cares?
Dowd uses Bass-lines so dynamic on the sparkling title track Family Picnic and Back End of Spring they will more than likely to get pinched by with-it Hippity-Hoppity stars; yet on the latter Dowd might even be getting his own Hip-Hop on anyways!
While there are surprises around every corner; I was stunned to hear Dowd Go Dub on Let’s Have a Party; or at least the backing track has come straight out of Orange Street but Dowd’s vocals are straight up East Coast Country…… play it LOUD and play it often.
With so much going on in his songs, it’s easy to forget what a great songwriter Johnny Dowd has always been; his odes to Conway Twitty and Thomas Dorsey have to be heard to be believed; yet somehow I think both men would raise an eyebrow were they to ever hear these two ‘love songs’.
Obviously with an album so left-field and eclectic makes finding a Favourite after only a couple of plays nigh on impossible; but if forced I will have to spin a coin between Stuttering Wind, as if it had been around in the early 80’s I would have danced my ass off to this on a Friday night at Barmston Club; and the other is the nearest to a Country song as I’ve heard from Mr Dowd, Four Gray Walls…….. but don’t expect an invite to the Opry any time soon!
If I had a record store I don’t know where I would slot this album in today; as it’s not easy to pigeon hole in 2019 where the public need descriptions like leading a horse to water; but let’s go for Alt. Eclectic or Avant Garde Americana……. or just Damn good and intelligent Rock Music?

 – Original article

 

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.

CD Release Party and Art Opening @ Grayhaven 3/1 6pm

 

 

 

 

John is celebrating the release of his new CD Family Picnic at a release party gig and collaborative art show opening with other people who have the initials JD. Yeah, it’s a high bar to get in. Not to get in to the show-that’s free. There’s going to be all kinds of Dowd art on the walls and tables, some snacks and drinks, a photo booth and, most importantly, all proceeds go to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.

 

 

 

 

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Opening starts at 6. John and Mike will play at 7:30 joined by local Goddess Kim Sherwood-Caso, and Park Doing opens.

PS:

mike massingham

This Mike’s not family, but he’s an honorary collaborator by virtue of creating the fine cover design for the Family Picnic cd. You’ll get a copy of his work when you buy the it!

 

 

Join us as Johnny Dowd celebrates the release of his new album “Family Picnic” with both a performance and an art show featuring John, his sister Jennifer Edmondson, and niece Jade Dowd Vanderberg.

Johnny, Mike Edmondson, & Kim Sherwood-Caso are  pulling out all the stops, and Park Doing is opening the show.

Grayhaven Motel – 657 Elmira Rd, Ithaca, New York 14850
Art show begins at 6:00pm
Music begins at 7:30pm

The art pieces will be available for purchase by making a donation to CRC
(envelopes will be available at the show).

Jyl’s Photobooth will be onsite with Family Picnic props, and there will be treats as well.

Please join & share our Facebook event page.

Presented by Low Profile.  Sound by Resident Noise.

There’s nuthin’ like a Dowd Family Picnic!

Johnny on his new album, Family Picnic, which will be released March 1:

“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.”

– CRC

 

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.

 

UPDATE FROM JOHNNY’S SITE:
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: www.johnnydowd.com/tour/

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.