× Johnny Dowd back in Europe with "Is Heaven Real?"

Johnny Dowd back in Europe with "Is Heaven Real?"


Johnny Dowd’s Unflinching Eye Takes in Tales of Darkest America.
Check this guy out if you dare.” So ran the last line of a profile titled “Johnny Dowd Slithers Onto Music Scene” back in 1999. That gives you a pretty decent idea of how Johnny Dowd’s music works — “slither” and “dare” being the key words. Johnny does both. In the traditions of Waits or Bukowski, he slithers into places most of us don’t imagine or see. They might be back alleys, back porches, or just a bar down the street, but wherever he goes he dares to sing out what he sees. Will you dare to listen? 

Dowd conjures up characters with bluntness and an eye for telling details — a true writer’s songsmith. Perhaps that’s because he only came to the art after forty years of hard living. Even at that age, “I never wanted to be a songwriter,” he says. But when it became a matter of sink or swim, back around 1988, he dove into the deep end. “I was in a Memphis/Texas swamp blues band,” he says, “but then the singer quit. He was the only one who was enough of a musician to learn a song off a record and show it to us. I couldn't figure out how to do that! So I said, 'Fuck it' and started writing songs — just so we could play.

1999 saw the first of Dowd's US and European tours. A Dutch TV documentary on Dowd was filmed in 2000, and in early 2001, the New York Times highlighted him as one of four "Country Singers Who Still Display a Country Heart". He continued to release a record every year while touring both the US and Europe, making his major film debut in Jim White’s “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus”. Record titles like The Pawnbroker's Wife, Cemetery Shoes, or A Drunkard’s Tale seemed to suggest the stories within. 

He's often found a fan base with punk rockers, though the music underpinning his words can range from country to jazz to blues and beyond. That’s part of the charm: every song builds a world of its own, centered on his soulful, wry voice. And that world-building is most complete on Is Heaven Real? (How Would I Know?), his 19th studio album. In addition to his longtime bandmates, drummer Jif Dowd (his sister) and guitarist Mike Edmondson, Dowd recruited a slew of Memphis ringers, including the gifted couple Will Sexton (who co-produced and played guitar) and Amy LaVere (on bass and vocals), among many others. It was a way of bringing it all back home to Johnny’s youth in the South, but also to the gripping soul and R&B that captivated him in those years. With a cover designed by Jon Langford, it’s his greatest work yet.  

With "Is Heaven Real?" Johnny Dowd will be back for an European tour all March:

08/03: Sheffield, UK - Greystones
09/03: North Yorkshire, UK - The Band Room- SOLD OUT
10/03: Barnoldwick, UK - Barnoldwick Music & Arts Centre
13/03: Hassocks, UK - Mid Sussex Music Hall
14/03: Nottingham, UK - The Running Horse
15/03: Bristol, UK - Thunderbolt
16/03: Bradford-on-Avon, UK - South Wraxall Club
17/03: London, UK - West Hampstead Arts Club
18/03: Menen, BE - Boegie Woegie
20/03: Den Bosch, NL - Willem Twee
21/03: Drachten, NL - Iduna
22/03: Arnhem, NL - Luxor Live
23/03: Utrecht, NL - TivoliVredenburg
25/03: Zürich, CH - El Lokal
26/03: Nürnberg, DE - Zentralcafe im Künstlerhaus
27/03: Karlsruhe, DE - KoHi
29/03: Antwerp, BE - Djingel Djangel
30/03: Rotterdam, NL - Roodkapje - SOLD OUT

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