Juliana MacDowell “Living For A Saturday Night “
Juliana MacDowell’s music career is as much a surprise to her as any one. “It’s true that I just sort of fell into this business, but I’m pretty sure I was whistling in the womb, and I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember.”
A tumultuous childhood, marred by loss and periodic separation from her parents prompted Juliana to seek consolation in music. “Music evokes the happiest memories of life on my grandfather’s farm, where I sang to the swallows in a cavernous barn and whistled to winged warblers in the forest.” Piano became a close companion to Juliana at a young age after her great-grandfather placed her on the bench of his 1939 Steinway (right). Important musical influences include Elton John; Sting; James Taylor; Simon & Garfunkel; Peter Gabriel. But Juliana says it was her great-grandfather, Otis Beall Kent, who planted the seed for her love of music.
Juliana has played with legendary bassist and award-winning singer-songwriter, FREEBO (Bonnie Raitt, 10 yrs; CSN; Ringo Starr…) and shared the stage with Jon Carroll (Starland Vocal Band) and Michael Clem (Eddie from Ohio) in Justin Trawick’s “The 9.” Her first full length CD, “Take Me Away,” produced by WAMA award-winning producer, Marco Delmar, contains tracks by Freebo; mandolin player, Matt Cartsonis (Warren Zevon; John McEuen); guitarist, Matt Backer (Elton John, Cher, Julian Lennon); drummer, Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident. EOTO…); esteemed D.C. players, Ken Barnum, Nathaniel Davis and more.
Juliana’s live performance on WKYZ’s Pirate Radio caught the ear of British producer, Ian Shaw, with whom she recorded her second album, “Leaving Home.” Shaw also arranged for co-writing sessions with British Pop-Star, Nick Heyward (Haircut 100). Juliana’s third album took her to Nashville to work with legendary producer, Bil VornDick, about whom she says: “I enjoyed Bil’s relaxed approach to recording.. He is very organic about it and likes to get to know his artists really well – find out what makes them tick. His process is remarkable – he pays attention to every minute detail and it’s a blast working with a true production and engineering genius.”
Juliana loves to play charity gigs and divides her time between her home in Western Loudoun County, Virginia and Key West, Florida. “I have been monumentally blessed in my life with both the good and the bad. The former, providing the encouragement to stay in forward motion, and the latter refining the soul. It’s been a wild ride so far and I’m excited to see what’s just around the bend.”
Conch Town Records signed Juliana’s second album: Leaving Home (British Indie producer, Ian Shaw). The album released Friday the 13th, March 2020 – days before Covid-19 pandemic pandemonium locked down the U.S.. Unfortunate timing perhaps but the album shines and features a cast of prodigious players from across the globe. Award-winning songs like “All Those Things” and “Two Kinds Of People” gained Juliana traction beyond the east coast where she got her start. Juliana’s first album, “Take Me Away,” (2015) features rock single, “Gotta Roll.”
Juliana’s latest album Big Old Yellow Moon is set to release Spring 2023 and remains an impressively diverse collection of mini-masterpieces ranging from beguiling ballads to kick-up-your-spurs pop-country. The album’s title track offers a palatable pairing of 1940s-style lilting melodies with an island-inspired motif. Produced by the masterful hand of Bil VornDick it was the last album he ever made before his unexpected death in July 2022. Big Old Yellow Moon is dedicated in loving memory to the enormous personality and talent of Bil VornDick.
“If music is truly a healing force, MacDowell is its epitome. “Leaving Home,” her second album, is a massive project…MacDowell has a gift for melodic, sing-along type songs and the musicians punctuate in just the right places…“In the Dark” has a somewhat gloomier instrumental backdrop but MacDowell’s lyrics take the higher road, encouraging us how to get out of the bleak state of mind. “All Those Things” seems to owe to her bluegrass Virginia roots while the standout “Midnight Hour” begins as a soft-spoken ballad revealing her pure, well-articulated vocals which build in power through some stunning sequences featuring the string section…She shows us both her serious side and also brings out a funnier, tongue-in-cheek approach to “Cruel Woman.” The horn-infused title track, filled with rollicking licks, speaks about leaving for Nashville, not Key West, but MacDowell is likely singing metaphorically about leaving her past behind… Juliana comes across as a naturally gifted singer…this is a well-conceived, impeccably rendered project, as evidenced in part by the high-profile stature of some of these backing musicians, but mostly through MacDowell’s animated, enthusiastic delivery.”
Jim Hynes, Elmore Magazine
“Juliana MacDowell offers a sunny set from Key West… Juliana MacDowell recorded much of her new album in Key West, Florida, where she lives part of the year, far from the music biz’s biggest stages “Leaving Home” makes her talent hard to miss, however. MacDowell’s second album, and the first for the new indie label Conch Town Music, is as sunny as the Keys and a melodious showcase for her fine singing and songwriting. “Leaving Home” grabs the ear and invites a smile right out of the gate with the opener “I Like,” which — as elsewhere — benefits from Matt Backer’s inventive guitar work. Horns propel the title cut, a voyage of discovery that leads MacDowell to a happy ending. And the piano-and-strings ballad “Midnight Hour” offers a reminder that life isn’t all beautiful sunsets, even in Key West. On the fiddle waltz “Two Kinds of People,” MacDowell sings, “I deserve to be heard.” She’s absolutely right.”
Steve Wine, Associated Press, ABC News