Win Tickets to Jonny Corndawg, Shovels & Rope, and Robert Ellis at the Southern tonight!

April 7th, 2012 · 5 Comments · By

Surely many Nailgun readers are familiar with the legend of Jonny Corndawg (or, at least you should be). He began his journey as Jonny Fritz, a local boy who played noise music on megaphones and shopping carts, drove a large van covered entirely in astroturf, and engaged in zany antics like covering entire venues (and audiences) in baby powder, or rollerblading from Philadelphia to New York City.

Eventually the restless young ingenue’s musical expressions began to form into 30-second blurts of hyper-witty contemporary pop-country parody, often no more than a single verse and half the idea for a chorus, like a funhouse version of the Minutemen in which all of the technical proficiency has been replaced by off-color jokes (sample early work: a song sung from the perspective of a conservative father who is angry when his 18-year-old son comes out of the closet — the title, and chorus, is “Is it Too Late to Abort?”).

This garnered him a lot of attention locally and, eventually (with the help of a US tour as a roadie / opening-act for Bella Morte), nationally — but more importantly it gave him a raison d’être, a conceptual peg on which to hang his boundless and restless creativity. And as he continued, and kept telling that “joke,” it slowly became easier to think of Corndawg not just as that goofy kid who made fun of country songs, but also increasingly to actually consider Corndawg as a country artist himself. (I think the turning point was 2003’s “Chevy Baretta,” a restless ode to small-town life sung from a young girl’s perspective; it contains the immortal couplet: “Oh whoa, I do what I wanna, half the po-lice in the County already know my name / Oh Lord, I ain’t scared of nothin’ except for Jesus, my Daddy, and my ex-boyfriend Wayne.”)  Corndawg could always (always) make people laugh, but at some point we began to suspect that he might be capable of writing great songs as well.

There are many things that ake Country Music valuable; it consistently concerns itself with the values of the working class (real or projected), and it’s also one of the popular music genres that allows for comedy and larger-than-life personas; but it’s a thing most of us can probably agree on that the Top 40 Country Music of the 00’s falls far short of the genre’s great history and potential; many have reacted to this by becoming traditionalists, by hearkening back to earlier eras and artists (from 70’s Nashville all the way to the first Carter Family recordings), but Corndawg’s approach is more radical; he’s fully post-modern, embracing everything wonderful and terrible about contemporary American popular culture.

As Corndawg’s legend grew, with tales of him buying a tricked-out motorcycle with hundreds of headlights, touring India twice, moving to LA to learn airbushing on the Santa Monica boardwalk; and moving to Nashville to learn leatherworking (all true), he also began to write better and more proper songs; every time he came back to town to play another show, he’d have another half-dozen that were even better than the last. His newest album “Down on the Bikini Line” is by far his most accomplished and professional effort (he calls it “Dad country”); pretty much every one of its songs is a home-run, from the raucous, hilarious energy of “Red on the Head” to heartbreaking-yet-ridiculous ballads like “Undercover Dad;” there’s also polished-up versions of Corndawg classics that were less-than-professionally recorded the first time around, like “Life of a Bear” and “When a Ford Man Turns to Chevy,” and a killer cover of Jimmy Cousins’ “Fools and Sages.” The title track may also be the saddest Gospel song ever written about anonymous oral sex. At this point, it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that he may be this generation’s Roger Miller or John Prine.

Jonny Corndawg is playing at The Southern tonight, with two tourmates, Robert Ellis and Shovels and Rope. Doors are at 8:00, the show starts at 9pm, and the cover is $10 at the door — but you also have a chance to win a pair of free tickets! Just send us an email with “Corndawg Contest” in it, and we’ll randomly select a winner by this evening…

Tags: contests · feature · preview · rants & rambles

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rob // Apr 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    If you’re out early swing by the Garage to catch the Fire Tapes at 8!

  • 2 James // Apr 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    oh damn, I didn’t even know y’all were playing!
    (I really need to update the calendar…)
    I’ll see you guys at 8:00 for sure.

  • 3 James // Apr 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    congratulations to Amy L. Woolard, winner of 2 tickets to tonight’s Southern show!

  • 4 Magnus Music // Apr 8, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Homerun on that write-up James; that was an awesome read.

  • 5 Jacob // Apr 8, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Great writeup James! As definitive a true-to-life biography of Jonny Corndawg as I’ve seen.

    Regarding that famed roller-blading expedition, Brandon Joyce’s account here can’t be beat:

    Also, it’s worth noting that all of Brandon’s essays there are amazing (if occasionally semi-incomprehensible to the non-Renegade-Philosopher) and very much worth exploring!