Tag Archives: John Abbey

The song I wish I had written. Kalamazoo Star by Gerald Dowd.


The best written song I have heard this year is the non-kindie type written by all things a drummer in a kindie band. A DRUMMER! Yes though I am not as shocked and amazed as you might think. The song is Kalamazoo Star and it’s written by one Gerald Dowd.  Most of the time you find him behind his kit backing one of the many fine bands he plays and sings with (Justin Roberts, Robbie Fulks, Frisbie, Kelly HoganElectric Dirt, etc) but, on this occasion he has released a CD of his own material.  Home Now is a great example of American Music and Kalamazoo Star is as good a song as one can ever hope to write. A superior CD with filled with great American music.  Props to Liam Davis stars-in-the-night-sky(producer), John Abbey (engineer) and the many wonderful musicians and singers (too many to list) behind the music. As good as the CD is this tune stands apart.  The magic of the song is its positive message in the face of and mournful and sad occasion. Add in the fact the band itself sounds like they could be playing on your front porch, barn, campfire etc. It’s a celebration of life in the face of death and it’s all done in a single take (They saved the best take for last!).  “There’s another star in the Kalamazoo Sky tonight. Same old sky but it feels brand new”. Someone special has passed on and even in death they are looking over family and friends. It’s poignant, sweet and smart. Anyone who ever penned a song wishes they could write songs like this. Thanks for this one Gerald. I’ll be looking for that star next time I’m in Michigan.  So where can you get this CD.  Head on over to www.geralddowd.com and he’s supposed to have it available by Friday.  You can also catch him in the street or a concert venue near you. I’m sure he’ll gladly sell you a copy or two. I intend to buy a bunch as Christmas gifts this year. Go and support an independent music artist today!

Day of THE DOWD… or how all drummer are now called in my house.


Tomorrow is Saturday, November 8, 2014 and it is also the Day of the Dowd at Fitzgerald’s Nightclub.  Many of you who read this blog or are friends of mine on Facebook are aware that my son is the creator of THE DOWD.  Not Day of the Dowd (that credit goes to his smart and talented wife) which I will be supporting tomorrow. While he is best known as a drummer extraordinaire and in our family the drummer for the Justin Roberts band to which we have attended a few shows.  Somewhere along the way of seeing him at shows and festivals we became friends. Our two sons get along thick as thieves being only a year apart and living in the same neighborhood. So a  while back I was having a morning jam with my jam cartson which we are known to do on more than one occasion.  He will gather all of his drums, keyboards,ukes, guitars (some real, some toys) and bring them all out to the front room and say… “Daddy let’s Jam!”  He does this on occasion with his mom too but mostly me as I am usually practicing my guitar or attempting to write a new tune. Well on that day my wife was home and since he was jamming on keys and guitar and I had a guitar he asked his mom to play the drums.  Only he asked her “you be THE DOWD.”  We asked for clarification and he matter of factly explained “you play the drums, you be THE DOWD.”  Now I have a great drummer in my band named Frank Izzo and never have we referred to the drummer as “THE IZZO” or as his Pooch jersey saysJoe mendota “JOES DAD” (the original drummer was Frank’s son Joe).  Not sure if it was Gerald’s son’s influence or the beard or that he plays for Justin Roberts.  Whatever the cause all drummers in my house are now referred to as THE DOWD.  I’m sure this inspired Gerald to go write an album immediately as 3 year olds have the power to inspire.  Or maybe his many years of hard work, gigging, recording, practicing, singing, hanging around great musicgdowdians and life may have a small reason to do with him releasing a brand new album.  You go ahead and think that. But around here we know the truth. Go forth tomorrow and by a ticket for Day of the Dowd at Fitzgerald’s Nightclub and enjoy some great music. Hope to see you there and be sure to by a copy of the new CD ‘Home Now.  I’ve heard a few of the tunes and it sounds good!

Go see this show!


This is where I would be this Saturday if I didn’t have to worry about paying for school books and mortgages.  Robbie Fulks is playing at the Old Town School of Folk Music this Saturday, September 6th at 8pm.  Robbie is an awesome entertainer as I have mentioned here before and a heckuva songwriter as well.  The good news is that if you can’t make this show he plays at the Hideout mostrobbiefulks Mondays for a mere ten bucks! One of the best music deals in the city.  But if you wait till then you won’t get to hear his opening act extraordinaire Gerald Dowd!  You can usually find Gerald (friend, father, husband, musician and all around good guy) behind the drums playing for someone else (too many to mention) including Mr Fulks.  But behold! On this date Gerald will be out in front singing some of his own tunes. This is a double bill well worth checking out. Why will I not be there?  Because I just found out and can’t get out of work on such short notice (less than 4 days, thanks Gerald!). But you should go and tell him I sent you. Then buy a copy of his EP as well cause it’s pretty damn good too!  Go support an independent artist today!

Hope they play one of my favorite Robbie songs…

Sound City to King Size and the Poochamungas… and Block Party! progress.



There is a very excellent documentary called Sound City out about the history of a recording studio called?  You guessed it… Sound City in Van Nuys, California that recorded many great bands but went out of business in 2011.  Bands including Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young,  Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, etc…  and of course Nirvanna and Dave Grohl.  Dave now owns the Neve 8028 analog mixing console he bought when they closed (Dave also directed the Documentary).  The Neve Board was the main reason why many of the bands went there to record because of it’s amazing ability to deliver great drum sounds and everything else.  It’s at the center of the story.  Well as luck would have it the Poochamungas recorded a good deal of our music on a Neve board (No not that board)…  It seems our engineer at Kingsize Sound Labs, Mr John Abbey, was playing a gig at WGN (pretty good bass player as well) when he spotted the Neve board laying in some corner.   Unwanted… Unloved… Unused…  So he made an offer and bought himself a pretty fine recording board indeed. Now I know John was very happy when he got the board, (midway through our recording of Block Party!) but I had no idea of the history of that type of board till I saw the movie. Color me impressed!  But her comes the bit of irony in the movie for me.    Some individuals in the documentary claim that digital technology and specifically Pro Tools are one of the main reasons why Sound City went out of business.  That technology made the recording on tape and the Neve obsolete.  That no one wanted to record the hard way when Pro Tools can fix everything.    Well we recorded on a Neve into Pro Tools.  Blasphemy you say?  Well I don’t know about that.  What I do know that is what we did and thanks to Pro Tools many bands can now afford to record.  That tape is expensive but worth it if you can afford to and are good enough (less margin for error with tape).   That each has a place.  That anyway you can get the music out is a good thing.  Anyway I suggest you go see the Film as it is available for rental or purchase it here…  buy.soundcitymovie.com/

Art by Joe Somers

Art by Joe Somers

In other news our CD is now in the hands of Breakthrough Audio and they are going to make many copies which we will be able to release in the coming months.  Yea!!! Here is the slightly modified final cover art by our amazing artist Joe Somers!

Songs on the new CD – My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party)

Pic taken of Chillin and Grillin for a cure with Erin Burns camera by the Frankfort FD.

The Chillin and Grillin for a Cure Block Party!.

I have been writing about songs I wish I had written so this time I am going to discuss some of the songs I have written and how they came to be.  The title track My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party) was a song that really took a journey for me.  Block parties are such a city specific event.  For kids it’s like Christmas in July.  We never had a block party on my street growing up but we would visit a few that friends held every year.  I think the reason we never had one on my street is there were a lot of older people on our street.  Block parties are for kids and thus if you have no kids why would you want to do all that work… But I digress.  This song started as a simple E chord, A chord strum.  Lyrically it was triggered by my own kids running around our yearly block party.  Remembering how I loved block parties and now seeing my own kids run around like I once did.  So I wrote it in first person as a story of then and now.  Then I worked out the bridge, finale  and sent it to the band so they could listen and bring their own ideas along with mine to the studio.  The other thing is the we record pretty much all our songs live with a full band.  It brings a lot of energy and spontaneity to the music. It’s what works for us.  Stevie Ray Vaughn used to do that and the Motown – Wall of Sound was all about that as well.  Some bands lay down bass and rhythm track and then layer in guitars etc.  But not us.  Piano, guitar, bass and drums all at the same time.  We do record the vocals later using a scratch track during recording and we do overdub when needed.  From the moment Alton hit the keys to open the song I was astounded.  The  piano really changed the dynamic and filled the room.  The guitar solo after instrumental middle was organic.  Instead of singing I left it open and Pete at his best just feeling the music just filled it in perfectly.    Alton’s idea was then to build it up, take it down and then build to a furious finish. Especially with the drummer.  When you listen notice how the drum part builds.   I think the song turned out pretty well with John Abbey doing a great job on the recording and mix.  But don’t take my word for it.  Have a listen using the link below and let us know what you think!http://www.poochamungas.com/#!music/c1yi7

Songs I like but you may not have heard

A pretty good day

A pretty good day

So I have been going through a bunch of my CD’s that were in a stack in the living room drawer and have been ripping them to my laptop.  A couple of the songs that stand out for me are about slice of life.  Small stories about lifes happenings with a bit of a nostalgic feel. Similar to a few songs I have written.  One of them got a lot of airplay here in Chicago, was featured in the movie 13 going on 30 and Wilkepedia says  peaked at #39 on Billboard.  The other one is by a very talented local artist who if you haven’t heard of I am happy to make the introduction.

The first song is “Good Dayby the band Luce  (click for live version.) This song just always puts me in a good mood.  This is actually a day in the life song to be specific. Lyrics like
So I lace my boots up and step outside
Catch a cab because my car died
And I go to work with my friend Dan
Paintin’ houses the best we can”    What I like best of the song is the easy, rolling feeling of the day.  Things happen and you just keep going whether they’re bad or good.  About appreciating the moment and moving forward.  Plus a killer horn section complimenting the musical groove.  One of my favorite songs of the last 10 years.  Tom Luce the author really did an excellent job penning this tune.  Have a listen and I promise your day just got a little better.

red wagonThe other song I learned about when the band was recording over at Kingsize Sound Labs.  I was going through the John Abbey CD collection when I found Daytime Fireflies by Emily Hurd.  He had produced it and offered me a CD to take home.  The first song on the CD blew me away called “Kids in Red Wagons” (song and lyrics at the link).  It’s about remembering youth which is a lot of what I do in my writing.   The refrain perfectly captures a moment that repeats in time always reminding the author of what was.                                                                                                                       “When the sidewalks are flowing and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we’ll always have Chicago, won’t we?  Emily is a very talented songwriter and it is well illustrated within this song.  Go check out her new band as well Stone Blind Valentine

That’s all today.  Just a couple song examples I think exemplify the craft.  Feel free to make suggestions for other songs to listen to in the comments section below.  Band schedule and CD update’s the next time I visit here!

Mixed and Mastered!!!

My temporary waterfront property!

My temporary waterfront property!

After such an incredulous week with Boston bombing and the Texas explosion not to mention a flooded Chicago, it’s nice to get some good news and spread it around.  We haven’t cured cancer or found the solution to world peace but rather the Poochamungas have finished our second CD.  We have recorded, tracked, overdubbed, added, subtracted, pondered, changed, mixed and finally mastered our upcoming album BLOCK PARTY!   It will be released in August.  Still a few things to do like Band Photos, Album Art, PR, booking gigs, liner notes, etc, etc, etc.  In other words lots of work to do.  Now it’s one step at a time and trying to put our best foot forward.  I think your going to like the results.  I’ll keep you posted here