February 21, 2019

Johnny Dowd: Family Picnic

photo: Kat Dalton

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 album. Michael Edmondson rides shotgun on guitar.

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.

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 an incurable maverick, who is just too weird for the MOR Americana crowd to appreciate.

Johnny Dowd: vocals, guitar, beats, keyboards
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
USA live dates: European live dates:
  • 04/06 Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Koffie & Ambacht
  • 04/08 London, UK @ The 100 Club*
  • 04/10 Durham, UK @ Launderette Sessions*
  • 04/11 Bristol, UK @ The Thunderbolt *
  • 04/12 Leek, Staffordshire, UK @ Foxlowe Arts Centre*
  • 04/13 Bovey Tracey, UK @ The Dolphin*
  • 04/14 Nottingham, UK @ Running Horse
  • 04/15 Sheffield, UK @ Greystones
  • 04/18 Liverpool, UK @ 81 Renshaw
  • 04/20 Zeist, The Netherlands @ De Peppel
  • 04/21 Karlsruhe, Germany @ KOHI Kulturraum
  • 04/22 Helmond, The Netherlands @ Lokaal42

* with Park Doing

» johnnydowd.com

HCTF review of Twinkle, Twinkle.

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