An appearance by Johnny Dowd on Friday at the Greystones will tie in with a memorial weekend for local musician Andy Weaver who died of pancreatic cancer in July.
The Texan-born cult musician and the Chicken Legs Weaver frontman were good friends and until he was diagnosed with cancer Andy had been due to play a support to Johnny Dowd on the Bristol date of the current tour.
Andy Weaver and his wife Joi moved to Bristol a few years ago and that’s where his funeral was held. The family wanted to hold an event that could involve his many Sheffield friends who were unable to attend the service in Bristol.
With the agreement of promoter Chris Wilson and the artist himself they chose to make the Johnny Dowd gig the focal point of the tribute with a general invitation to come along to The Greystones and either buy tickets to see the concert or else just meet up in the main bar and outside.
They have also organised a quieter gathering the day after at the White Lion, Heeley, Andy’s local while he was in Sheffield, where friends can meet, share memories and raise a glass to him. Local bands and friends will be providing music. Free entry from 4.30 pm till late.
Johnny Dowd first saw Andy when his band Chicken Legs Weaver supported him at the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield. After the gig, he invited him over to the USA, where Johnny produced Andy’s first album, Nowhere, in Johnny’s studio in Ithica, upstate New York.
The Greystones promoter Chris Wilson has been working with Dowd for many many years and also helped Andy Weaver’s career by booking him at his late lamented venue, the Boardwalk. Through the friendships Andy forged with perfomers he supported at Sheffield gigs he played and wrote with or counted as peer group admirers not only Johnny Dowd, but Jim White, Neil Casal, Peter Stampfel and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, among others.
The formidable 64-year-old Dowd and his band have acquired a reputation for being uncompromising, twisted, brilliantly macabre and blackly funny. With songs about doomed sinners and murder, ones that veer very close to the heart of American creepiness, they add up to a show of jaw dropping intensity. Recognised as a major cult figure and a true outsider, he is often compared to Nick Cave, Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits though he is a true one-off.
He has a new CD, Do the Gargon, just out which has been attracting some enthusiastic reviews.
Support on Friday comes from Sheffield’s purveyors of Americana, Payroll Union.