+ Park Doing
That’s the title of one of his classic albums and possibly his own personal take on marriage, which on several tracks features the singer-songwriter Anna Coogan from Ithaca, NY where Johnny now lives. Hell, he was once married for all of two weeks but now enjoys the company of Jack D., opening up to the world in front of him and roaming free with age-defying abandon so much the better. Vietnam veteran, furniture mover and now just this side of 70, he keeps up a formidable presence to the discerning eye and ears. You heard the one about aging wine and getting a little longer in the tooth has its benefits too and Johnny Dowd reminds us of it. We’re talking about his art, this unmistakably amalgam of alternative country, nods to blues and rock with perplexing noisy breaks and outright experimentation all thru it. Doused with a shot of his dark humor and love of the absurd. And he’s easily defied any categorization with a lyrical spoonful of anarchy and a measure of defiant cynicism of his own volition. Yet he’s still compared to Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the greatest musically enlightened lunatic of them all, Captain Beefheart.
Somebody wrote that «He sings like a serial killer caught inside a vacuum cleaner», whatever the hell that means. His partners in crime over the years have been buddies like the drummer Brian Wilson and singer-songwriter guitarist Jim White (aka Michael Davis Pratt) and longtime super buddy Chris Hinkle. His cathartic singing in a distinctive guttural voice, like in psychological relief, underscored by growling, rousing guitar play and a generous mop of snow white hair have long ago secured him a spot in our own Hall of Fame. He’s coming to town with his freshly minted latest, «Execute American Folklore». It’s true blue Johnny…
To quote Kinky Friedman, a fellow Texan: «They don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore». For sure, they don’t make giants like Johnny Dowd anymore.