Walking up to meet Jonny Corndawg at a local food cart pod last week felt akin to stumbling into some kind of reverse Where’s Waldo book. Up until last week the only interaction I had had with the man was online, following an earlier ND piece I had written in support of his recently released album Down On The Bikini Line, and the then current Kickstarter campaign that helped to bring it to fruition, so I was a little worried about the off chance that I may walk right by him. But there, amongst the bustling Monday food cart lunch rush, amongst the overdressed crowds of downtown businessmen and hipsters alike, stood a tall man in a blonde cowboy hat complete with a sprig of feathers in the brim, an outfit of not one but two denims (seemingly Jonny’s signature), topped or should I say bottomed off with the whitest of white albino alligator boots. Without a doubt, I had found my man.
Within minutes, everything I had heard about Jonny as a person were confirmed. Over our mid afternoon Thai fix of curry and drunken noodles, he was kind, warm, and genuine as we talked about life on the road, his work with Middle Brother, and the recent release of Bikini Line. Jonny’s modest efforts to get Bikini Line released to the general public turned out to be anything but. The album’s funds on Kickstarter surpassed $9,000 by the close of its campaign making Jonny a very busy man these days. Even before the album’s release on August 20th Jonny had been touring incessantly, performing radio spots, and giving plenty of interviews all of which brought him to Portland for a night opening for Tim Easton at Mississippi Studios.
But before he starts in on all of those Kickstarter prize packages (Jonny doubles as a leatherworker by day and many of the Kickstarter prize packages include handmade belts and guitar straps), for now it’s all about the Bikini Line.
I suppose the best way to decide whether you’re a Corndawg fan or not is as simple as deciding whether you like hot dogs or the man who one day decided to wrap a pancake around a hotdog. While Jonny’s subject matter and delivery on Bikini Line may not necessarily be your grandfather’s country, it packs enough slide guitar and blue collar lyricism to stand tall next to it. it does contain all the all of the individual components of a great country album are there and the result is a cross section of infectious country gold. The album’s opener “Shaved Like A Razor” commands a metaphorically humorous look at feminine grooming habits and drunken sexual encounters bringing to mind the behind closed doors winking of Conway Twitty. In fact, much of the album harkens back to the sexy glitz and glamour of mid 70’s country. You can almost feel the wind in your hair from fast cars and faster women when, as a self professed Chevy man, Jonny celebrates even their shittiest model ever made (his words from the show later that night) in “Chevy Beretta,” a Jonesian and infectious ride of a song complete with . While the casual listener may not be ready for Jonny’s signature mix of outlaw humor on a song like “Red On The Head,” I believe it lends itself to the memory of the good old days when a man was defined by his swagger.