Saturday, June 11, 2011

DIY FYI: Ratten Spiegel - Johnny Dowd - 2009

This post will kick off the occasional spotlight on homemade releases not available through traditional retail channels. Often available as CD-Rs, downloads or, recently, cassette tapes, there are some incredible treasures to be discovered on your favorite bands' websites. One of my all-time favorites is Johnny Dowd's Ratten Spiegel, a live performance from 2002 at the venue of the same name in Freidburg, Germany.

For those who know Johnny Dowd and, especially for those who have caught him live, Ratten Spiegel is very representative of his live show, warts and all. For those who don't, imagine some meld of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Bone Machine-era Tom Waits.

Johnny's discography is hard to come by in most stores but he maintains an excellent website (all while running a moving company as day job). Ratten Speigel is a homemade CD-R and, aside from its excellent content for the Dowd fan, which covers material from Wrong Side of Memphis through The Pawnbroker's Wife, it's made all the more special as Dowd draws each cover by hand. No two are alike. I've never gotten a CD from Dowd's site that wasn't autographed along with a note of thanks. This fan-friendly approach extends to every one of his live shows I've attended, where Johnny and the band hang out afterward to talk music and more with the crowd.

A great opportunity to check Dowd out for free exists on his site in the form of a complete download of another superb show from Schuba's Tavern in Chicago from 2000. I attended this show with a friend who recorded it in its entirety to minidisc and presented a copy to Johnny and the band on their tour in 2002. If you like what you hear, buy every record you can  - and buy them directly from Johnny's site - and then, for God's sake, check him out live and in person the first chance you get.

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