JOHNNY DOWD debuteerde op zijn vijftigste met gemuteerde country noir en roestige rootsrock. Zijn experimentele country en americana dreigt elk moment te ontsporen in hels rumoer. 'No Regrets', het nieuwe album dat DOWD uitbracht op zijn eigen label Mother Jinx Records, noemt hij 'dansbaar'. 'Tenminste, als je kan dansen en denken tegelijk.' De songs op de plaat zijn voornamelijk duetten en zijn stuk voor stuk genoemd naar de belangrijke vrouwen uit zijn leven. 'Schuilnamen, uiteraard, om de schuldigen en onschuldigen te beschermen.'
Johnny Dowd (born March 29, 1948 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American alternative country musician from Ithaca, New York. Typical of his style are experimental, noisy breaks in his songs and strong gothic (in the sense of dark and gloomy) 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 more often compared to that of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1948, Dowd's family moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1950, and then to his father's hometown of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma in 1953. He received a record player for Christmas in 1956 and began buying records at a local appliance store. Although the first LP he owned was by the Ray Conniff Singers, it was the music of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and James Brown that changed his life. He cites James Brown's Live at the Apollo as his lifelong favorite album.
In 1965, along with his mother and sisters, Johnny returned to Memphis after his parents' divorce. After serving in the U.S. Army and living in California he drove across the United States in the early 1970s with longtime friend Dave Hinkle and settled permanently in Ithaca, New York where his mother and sisters had also relocated. Dowd and Hinkle began moving furniture for a living, later naming their business the Zolar Moving Company.
Dowd formed a band in the 1970s named The Jokers, which included Johnny (guitar), his sister Jennifer Edmondson (drums) and Dave Hinkle (bass). By 1988 the band had become Neon Baptist, whose members included Johnny Dowd, Cally Arthur, Dave Hinkle, Mike Edmondson and Jennifer Edmondson. Max Ormond and Kim Sherwood-Caso were in later lineups. Neon Baptist was one of the founding acts of the GrassRoots Festival, where Dowd has performed annually since 1991.
By the time Neon Baptist disbanded in 1995, Dowd was recording songs alone in the office of his moving company. These songs first appeared in 1995 on a home-made demo cassette as Wrong Side of Memphis, credited to Johnny Dowd as a solo artist. Kim Sherwood-Caso contributed background vocals on two songs. Most of these tracks were either re-mixed or completely re-recorded for the CD version of the same album, which was initially pressed as a self-released CD and then officially released on Chicago's Checkered Past label in 1997. The album was also released on Koch Records in early 1998 and then in Europe on Munich Records. Favorable reviews led to some of his first European appearances in 1998.
In the wake of widespread critical acclaim to Wrong Side of Memphis Dowd released his second album, Pictures From Life's Other Side, in 1999, also to strong reviews. This year also saw the first of Dowd's US and European tours. After the self-released (and very experimental) Down In The Valley in 2000 came Temporary Shelter later that year. A Dutch TV documentary on Johnny Dowd was filmed in 2000, and in early 2001, the New York Times highlighted Dowd as one of four "Country Singers Who Still Display a Country Heart".
The Pawnbroker's Wife album was released in 2002, followed by Wire Flowers: More Songs from the Wrong Side of Memphis in 2003. The same year, Dowd was handpicked by The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening (a self-described fan of Johnny's music) to perform in the All Tomorrow's Parties festival. 2003 also saw Dowd's first major film appearance with the release of Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. The album Cemetery Shoes was released in 2004; in 2006 Cruel Words was released and went on to win the Album/Alt.Country award in the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards the following year. Johnny also went on to be a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards.
In 2006 Johnny Dowd, drummer Brian Wilson (aka Willie B) and Jim White formed a band called "Hellwood". Their album, Chainsaw of Life was recorded in a cabin in New York, the walls of which were covered in musician obituaries. Hellwood toured the album in Europe. Johnny has also incorporated some of the songs from Hellwood into his own live setlist.
In April 2007 Johnny joined Beukorkest (/Punch- or batteringOrchestra/), a collaboration of various Dutch musicians and artist like André Manuel and Def P. fronted by Stuurbaard Bakkebaard en Rik van Iersel. They did a tour in the Netherlands consisting of 9 shows. In 2008 an album was released of tracks from various gigs. Beukorkest formed again in 2008 with a new team of musicians this time without Johnny.
The album "A Drunkard's Masterpiece" was released in Spring 2008 in America, Canada and Europe, followed by a European tour in April and May. Due to touring with Jamie Lidell, Willie B did not accompany the band.
In October 2008 Johnny announced a trio called Black Elastic. Kim Sherwood-Caso played guitar in addition to singing, Mike Edmondson, who played with Johnny some years ago, played guitar. This lineup played several shows in the Ithaca, NY area until an expanded Johnny Dowd band formed, composed of Kim Sherwood-Caso (guitar, vocals), Mike Stark (keyboards), Matt Saccuccimorano (drums) and Willie B (baritone guitar).
A new album titled "Wake Up The Snakes" will be released in Europe in March through Munich Records. A European tour is planned for May 2010.
Dowd and Billy Cote (formerly with Madder Rose) recorded a song, Bound For Hell, for a Love and Rockets tribute album, "New Tales To Tell: A Tribute To Love and Rockets," released in the fall of 2009. The track did not appear on the physical CD but as a download-only.