2016-04-20 - The Acoustic, Bridgeport

Setlist :

still life honey rose
pledge of allegiance
maybe you
in the sun
a smile that explodes
all the old heroes
the man who sold the world
you keep hanging on
walk on the wild side
out on a limb
crying like a man
ballad of boogie christ
honey & the moon

FLAC files available here



REVIEW : Temporary People - Popwreckoning

Honestly, I am kicking myself that it took me so long to sit down and listen to this fantastic album. Why did I wait so long, you ask? A little bit of life getting in the way, and a little bit of unfounded assumption, I had never heard of Joseph Arthur or the Lonely Astronauts for that matter. When I finally tackled this one on an Amtrak train on my way up to Montreal for the weekend, I hung my head in shame, as the latest effort from this prolific artist is worth more than the commissioned first listen it received.
Heading north, I let Joseph Arthur rip. And rip-roar he did. From the first chord, I felt as if I were listening to some kind of Dylan, Stones and Springsteenlovechild. Arthur’s seventh full-length studio album Temporary People is rich with the sound of 60s psychedelic pop, classic guitar rock, far reaching and tender choir choruses, and breezy sing along folk-type lyrics.

The opening/title track is a bit dark and clearly inspired by Arthur’s self-admitted long-fought battle with drugs and alcohol. Arthur sings about feeling empty and filling himself up with the lives of friends and lovers instead of facing himself. Arthur’s raspy voice carries a hint of a southern drawl and his words are both warm and wise. Midway though the song, a ghost-like chorus rears its head, as if the sounds of himself are waking. The soaring electric guitars at the end drive the tone desperation all the way home. In that sort of “it feels good to feel bad” way we all like to indulge in sometimes.

Arthur’s contemptuous riot on “Dead Savior” followed by the proselytizing chorus of “Look Into The Sky”, shows an artist with range and great skill, one who pulls together complex arrangements with well-rounded vocal compositions, but at the same time, one who appears to be following his gut, just like it’s the first time. The songs don’t feel meticulous or fussed over, rather, there is a rawness, an exposed feeling on this record that gives me a little bit of a lump in my throat. My favorite track is easily “Turn You On”. It’s a homegrown kind of love song that I think would make The Bossproud. Arthur concedes: “You say, I don’t turn you on, until it’s time for me to go” with a hoarse, scratchy, clawing agony, not for himself, but for her pain and the loneliness that’s so common in truly loving another.

Self-producing four EPs this year alone on his own label, Lonely Astronaut Records, owner of his own art gallery in Brooklyn for a period of time, writer, visual artist, filmmaker, and all around creative machine, it’s a bit overwhelming to get to know this artist given the number of directions he’s coming from. But the uncomplicated, good old, dark with a light at the end of the tunnel vibe ofTemporary People is a fine place to start. Go ahead and help yourself to a highball of Wild Turkey and a smoke, Joseph Arthur has been to a few places, and he’s ready to rock.


REVIEW : Come To Where I'm From - Ink 19

by Bryan Tilford, 2000-08-15

If you’ve heard other Real World releases or just plain thought they were a little too “out there” for you, take note; Joseph Arthur is from an unusual country for them – the USA. These songs are firmly rooted in positive, upbeat pop, smoothly bopping and frolicking about – though some are more serious, more embracingly lamentous. Throughout are some noticeably hopeful and creative applications of that traditional song form.

The music is largely coated with a fuzzy, rich pastoral backdrop, simple but effective with a slick diversity and exploratory nature. Each track sticks its finger into a different flavor of the pop pie, as well as sprinkling a few serendipitous surprises here and there. And then there’s “Cockroach,” featuring some aurally distinct ultra-eclectic sonic relationships. 
“Ashes Everywhere” interjects a harmonica solo plodding along like a waking Neil Young. Other times Joseph grabs a shortcut into Peter Gabriel or Robbie Robertson territory, add a pinch of raw and grit.

“Eyes On My Back” comes in like a lost early solo Lennon demo but evolves into quite a splashy event. In a somber and introspective “The Real You,” Joseph reveals “I have to redeem myself forever and forever, you can hear it in my song.”

Joseph Arthur has definitely accepted music into his soul. Come to Where I’m From is his testimony of that penetration.

INTERVIEW : 2000-09-27 Come Undone: An Interview With Singer/Songwriter Joseph Arthur (by Gail Worley)

As musical genres mutate to serve the demand for creative innovation, singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur takes the one-man-band concept to a level that renders an accompanying band obsolete. Armed with his acoustic guitar, a dozen effects boxes, and the endless adaptability of two Jam Man’s, Arthur accompanies himself with beats (drummed out on the body of his guitar, which is elaborately decorated with his own abstract drawings), loops, and his own free-form backing vocals. 
Delay pedals and volume controls create dynamics and layers of sound. What begins as fairly sparse fills out quickly, becoming a gorgeous, circular buildup of interlocking samples, vocals and guitar patterns that’s truly hypnotizing.

“It’s not just a loop playing and then another loop of the same thing,” Arthur explains, seated in the conference room of Virgin Records’ Park Avenue office. “You can bring things in and out and create some life in there. I have established beats, but I try to keep [the show] as improvisational as possible. That’s just more fun for me, and I think people sense that.” 
The experience is all the sweeter when squeezed into the small venues Arthur’s been touring in support of his sophomore release,Come to Where I’m From.

Standing over six feet, with dark, tousled hair and wire framed glasses, the 28 year-old Akron, Ohio native bears a strong resemblance to either John Lennon or the Verve’s Richard Ashcroft, depending on the day. Arthur has an easy-going charm and endearing, quick wit and can be somewhat self-deprecating. He remains somewhat incredulous when recalling the fairytale-like career break that dropped into his lap when Peter Gabriel mysteriously got a copy of his demo tape. Impressed with Arthur’s songs, Gabriel phoned Arthur and invited him to record for his Real World label. “I was just straight-up out of the music store, working [for] minimum wage. All of a sudden, I’m at Real World (Gabriel’s studio in England) making a record. I was really freaked out,” he laughs. That album, 1997’s, Big City Secrets, turned critics’ heads but did little commercially. Arthur says Come to Where I’m From is “closer to what my sound is.”

You seem kind of shy on stage. How does it feel right now to be in the middle of a critical buzz?

Last night (at NYC’s Mercury Lounge) people told me it was a good show, but I felt like it could have been better. Maybe I only feel that way because it’s New York. [But] I feel good. I was feeling more of that insecure, shy-guy thing last night. Sometimes I’m much more self-assured than that but I’ve been going through this kind of weird insecurity crisis in the last week, on stage. I think it has something to do with being tired but you do sometimes get into that head space [of thinking] ‘How is this entertaining for anybody?’ I start philosophizing while I’m performing and it drives me crazy. I start going down to the nuts and bolts of what performance is, like ‘This is a strange ritual that people come into a room and you’re before them.’ I think, because I’m alone, it’s sort of raw and a naked sort of experience in a way, so it even accentuates the absurdity of performance. Plus a New York audience is a little bit cool, even though I think they are appreciative. It makes me go more inside myself.

It’s obvious that you were making a major connection with your audience. I actually heard people talking about you before the show like you were some kind of sacred teen idol. It was wild.

That’s pretty insane, isn’t it? What does that mean?

I think it’s exciting.

It is exciting. I don’t know how I take it. To be honest with you, I don’t mean this to be bad or harsh, I just don’t take it that seriously. I love it, it’s fun. I’m really happy that people are receiving the music and it’s fun to travel around and have people be into it, but I think in retrospect it’ll trip me out more. When I’m in the moment of it, it’s so surreal that I just go with it.

I’ve been going back and revisiting Big City Secrets over the past few days, which is a great record…

Thank you, yeah. I always thought that record was better than the attention given it. Not to say that people didn’t appreciate it, but nobody seemed to hear it. But I don’t want to go into that.

Before I started listening to it again, after maybe a year of not hearing those songs, I didn’t expect to hear much of a difference. But when I put it up against the new record, there seems to be a huge leap in your creative style. It sounded like on Big City Secrets there was a very apparent Peter Gabriel-esque overtone. Come to Where I’m From is so much more raw, so much more like you. What are your thoughts on that?

Well, I made the first one at Real World. I gave a lot of the control to the producer, Marcus Strauss, who is a very strong producer-type, in that he had his own vision as well, and he brought it to that record. I look at that record as somewhat more of a collaboration between me, him and the other [musicians involved]. Then, with T-Bone [Burnett, producer of Come to Where I’m From], he was more of a support-of-my-vision kind of producer. I’m not saying one’s better than the other, I’m just saying they’re different styles. [This record] was made in America and I was more sure of what I wanted to do and that the fact that what I wanted to do was OK.

A lot of the press that you’re getting, the critics, I know what they’re trying to say, but I don’t necessarily agree with that point of view…

Yeah, me too…

Everyone belabors the point of saying you evoke influences of Leonard Cohen and Kurt Cobain and all of this horrible sad death…

Yeah, the ‘horrible sad death’ thing, I don’t get that either, I don’t see it. When people say [the record is] ‘seriously dark’ I’m like ‘Really?’ I mean, I know that it goes there but that’s not the overwhelming tone. And the comparison thing, it’s usually very flattering people that they’re comparing me to. So, on that level, I like it. But on another level I’ve been compared to so many different people that it starts to be like ‘Well can’t you just say that maybe I have an original sound?’ Because really, I’ve been compared to, it’s like 20 different people.

One review said “Come to Where I’m From is the diary of a ravaged man.” I had to ask myself “Am I not getting this?”

I would just say that it goes to that, because that’s part of being a human, but it certainly doesn’t remain [there]. It’s more rounded than that. It’s a documentation of a time. It’s hard to explain but I’m glad that you say that because I agree. I don’t think it’s super dark.

Do you get inspired by anything in particular? Do you have any method for how your songs get written?

I think there’s that element that you can’t control, definitely. But a lot of it to me is just about hard work. Maybe there is something real brass tacks about it as well. If you write a lot of songs, you’re going to write a lot of bad songs and then you’re also going to get lucky and write some good ones (laughs). I think it’s that simple, and it is mysterious, but then you could say that about everything in life. We’re mysterious, so of course creativity is mysterious and spiritual because everything is mysterious and spiritual. But it’s also a lot about needing it. If somebody needs [creative expression] to be redeemed or just to live happily, then they’re going to excel at it. I like to just do a lot of things and then when something happens [that’s] good, for me, it does come easily after struggling a lot on things that didn’t work out.

Speaking about hindsight being 20/20, did you feel like the title the album maybe means more to you now that you look at the songs all together in this package?

The title has grown on me so… (long pause) of course people ask, but I just say I don’t know what it means. And I really don’t know what it means, the title, but it has grown on me. Each time I’m finished with something I just think about going on to the next thing. It’s hard to let go, but once I’ve let go then I’m just detached from it, in a way. I mean, I hope it does really well and I’m thrilled that people like it and are giving it good reviews. Beyond that, just [having] people coming up to me and say “I love your record,” that’s really great to hear. But I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do next.

With “Chemical,” some reviewers have tagged you as sounding like Beck…

Right, OK, If you’re going to go there, let’s go there.

I could see a comparison to something off Mutations, maybe. But I’m sure you weren’t even thinking of Beck…

Verse one and verse two [of “Chemical”] slightly sound like Beck. Let me say I like Beck, but my music has so nothing to do with Beck’s music – and that’s not putting down Beck at all. Whenever I read somebody saying “It’s like Beck!,” I just go, “OK, this person has not heard my music at all. Out of all that I’ve written, one thing comes up sounding a little Beckish, it’s gonna happen, isn’t it? I don’t go home and have Beck posters on my bedroom wall and go “If only I could be the next Beck!” There was something in The Village Voice about that, and I was just like “Is this guy kidding me? Has this guy heard my music at all?”

There’s a lot of humor in your music, also.

Right, I like to be funny without being ironic. I think it’s cool to mix seriousness with humor within the same song rather than just going fully joke rock.

What’s the difference between, say, playing for a few hundred people last night and being in front of 17,000 when you played with Ben Harper in France?

In some ways, it’s easier to play in front of huge audiences, because you’re sort of detached, in a way. I think the absurdity of performance is more obvious in a smaller setting than in a huge setting. Maybe you wouldn’t expect [that], but if it’s you and five people in a room, it seems more embarrassing for everybody. Whereas if it’s you and 17,000 people in a room it’s like “OK, this is a huge event we’re all condoning it, so it’s OK.”

Also, if you’re in front of that size crowd, don’t you have lights in your face and you can’t see anyone anyway?

Yeah, you just close your eyes and go out and do it. I’m pretty good [at not being nervous]. It was the Paris show where it was 17,500 people and I was pretty nervous. I start getting edgy, like “OK, should I wear this jacket or should I just go in a T-shirt?” And then I obsess about it and it becomes a huge thing, know what I mean? I’ll just find one thing to obsess about and do that until someone says “OK, now you gotta go on stage.” And then I’m, “OK, I’m fine.”

Tell me the Lou Reed story.

It was the first time I was going to play, in front of Peter (Gabriel), in New York because he had gotten my demo tape through a freak accident. I had met his daughter like a week before and she was at the Fez, which is where the show was, and she said ‘Oh, my Dad’s running late because he’s picking up Lou Reed. They’re going to be bringing Lou Reed’s DAT player to record the show.’ And I was like “What?’ (laughs) Because I was deep into Lou Reed for awhile so that was too much to fathom. I was already at my brink playing for Peter but I knew that Peter liked my songs so it was just a matter of playing them and trying to do a good job. Then, with Lou, it added this whole other weight as well, so it was overwhelming. I wrote about it in Musician magazine actually.

How did you write the song “Exhausted”?

I was at Real World when I wrote that, and Real World is a very closed environment, in a way. It’s out in the country and I don’t do well out in nature. I like all of this animosity around me ’cause it makes me feel calm, for some reason. When I was out in nature I just needed to get out of there, so I think that’s what inspired [the chorus] “I’ve got to get away from here,” just being surrounded by myself the whole time.

I agree. I’d much rather be in NYC than stranded out in the suburbs.

I like distractions.

Manhattan affords someone like you a great place to be anonymous and just blend in. Do you think that’s going to change if people start recognizing you?

I don’t know. It’s funny because it goes back to what you said at first. ‘Cause I start to think “Am I famous now?” and when I walk down the street I wonder “Do people recognize me?” because I don’t feel famous, so it’s strange. But I don’t think anybody knows who I am when I walk down the street.

It’s nice to be lost in New York.

Yeah, ’cause when I say “anonymous,” I’m just talking in the general sense of how nobody cares what you look like or what you’re doing. Even if you are famous, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Most people here don’t even know that I’m a woman (laughs).


INTERVIEW : 2004 Primal surges (by Anil Prasad)

There’s absolutely no separation between writing a song and whatever inspires it for me,” says renowned singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, who just released his fourth album Our Shadows Will Remain. It’s an engaging effort that frames his dark and brooding outlook with vivid imagery, rich textures and appealingly eclectic arrangements. Although his songs may sound complex, their genesis is typically very simple.

“I usually just strum around on chords and sing melodies that come naturally,” he explains. “The sounds eventually sound like words and all of sudden they become words. It feels sort of trancelike and there’s nothing intellectual about it at all. It couldn’t be more primal. It doesn’t tend to be a torturous process. Songwriting comes from an unconscious place and I hone it with my conscious mind. I tend to write really fast and not edit much of it. I prefer to trust the first thought that enters my head. It really is a mysterious thing to experience.”

For Arthur, the big challenge—and a key creative catalyst—is dealing with a record after it’s completed.

“That’s when the torture begins,” he says. “I experience a certain fear that goes ‘What the hell did I just do?’ And that’s when I start writing the next record and trying to correct anything I feel might be wrong with the last one. So, my creative spirit tends to be reactive. What usually happens though is I end up not fixing anything and end up making something different. So, it’s a bit of an illusion. I typically discover two albums later that there was nothing really wrong with the last record and go ‘You know what? That was actually pretty good.’”

Recent times have seen Arthur successfully wean himself away from elements of the rock and roll lifestyle. He believes conquering those demons has significantly enhanced his songwriting prowess.

“I feel the creative spirit is stronger when you’re in a completely sober state of mind,” he says. “Drugs and alcohol can have a certain inspiring effect at times, but I tended to burn out very quickly and become a mess. I prefer being sober. I have a lot more clarity, focus and energy in that state. When you’re straight, you realize that the creativity is coming from within you. The knowledge that it’s not induced by something else lets you more easily align yourself with the creative spirit more consistently. Having said that, I think deranging your senses is a good thing as well, but you can do that in a lot of other ways like fasting and meditating. Life in general just has a way of deranging you too. In some ways, life seems to actually become stranger and more abstract the more sober I am.”

Life on tour also plays an important part in spurring Arthur to action as a songwriter.

“I find being on the road in a constant state of motion really helps me,” he says. “Being out of any sort of familiar element brings out the best in my songwriting. When you’re touring, life tends to be in a perpetual state of minor crisis. And because I don’t take any drugs or drink to cope with the chaos, I take comfort in playing guitar and writing songs.”


INTERVIEW : 2015-04-06 Joseph Arthur interviews on his ‘Alien Flowers’ exhibit at Gallery Go (by Lauren Cullen)

Renowned musician-artist Joseph Arthur’s Alien Flowers exhibition will open at Gallery Go in West Hollywood on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. This solo exhibition presents Arthur’s new, colorful and vibrant mixed media works on canvas. Through his expressive, Basquiat-influenced style, Arthur’s Alien Flowers abstractly explores his personal experiences as an artist.

'Blue Moon' 60x40 mixed media on canvas
Courtesy of Jen DiSisto

An acclaimed musician, Arthur has released eleven studio albums. He has been a member of two supergroups, which include Fistful of Mercy with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison as well as RNDM with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament. Signed in the mid-1990s to Peter Gabriel’s label Real World, Arthur often creates his own album art. In 2000, he received a Grammy nomination for designing the Best Recording Package for his album Vacancy.

In this interview discussing the exciting upcoming opening of the Alien Flowers exhibition, Arthur poetically describes his creative expression as a way of life:

L.C. As an expressive artist in multiple media, how do you perceive the connection between your visual art and your music?

J.A. The process of making them - both come from the same place. They are both forms of meditation and both windows into higher consciousness. Music and painting for me are one, or at least opposite sides of the same coin.

L.C. Please describe your inspiration and creative process for the Alien Flowers exhibit.

J.A. The inspiration is the moment we transform from this life into the next. My work focuses on the final moment of this life and attempts to bring in all the color and wonder of that life while breaking into the next.

I'm interested most in how we transform, and how we are blown apart, and put back together. My work focuses on the spirits swarming around us and how they mix with our own. Often when I paint the phrase, there is only one moment comes into my head. And so I think I'm trying to paint life as a single expansive moment where everything is breaking apart or coming together. There is only one moment.

Gallery Go, opened recently by Elaine Trebek-Kares and curated by Jen DiSisto, is located at 947 N. La Cienga Boulevard in West Hollywood. This gallery is in the same space that Jim Morrison and Pamela Curson occupied with “THEMIS” in the late sixties. ‘Alien Flowers’ is timed to coincide with the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, and the exhibit will be on display April 8 through April 26, 2015.

Sweet Black Angel (Rolling Stones cover)

On May 2010, a sampler of five songs was offered with the seventh edition of the french ELDORADO Magazine.

Joseph recorded this cover exclusively for this release.

Sweet Black Angel

Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas) (John Denver cover)

This cover is part of the A.V. Club 2013 Holiday Undercover.

It's a song by John Denver: “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” was featured on his 1975 album Rocky Mountain Christmas.

You can see the vidéo here.

Please Daddy - MP3


Newsletter 2016-04

"Joseph Arthur is a long-term disrupter and a challenger of the norms. He is possibly the most talented musician of the last twenty years in the US."Huffington Post

Musician, painter and poet Joseph Arthur acquired a Steinway Vertegrand piano from the early 1900's, moved it into his Red Hook, Brooklyn studio and saved it from the storm (Sandy, propped on cinderblocks, while the neighborhood flooded). He learned some of its history: the piano had been a part of the same family for a century, somewhere in Connecticut. Written entirely on that piano, The Family (June 3 / True North Records for North America, Real World Records for ROW) is mostly a work of fiction and a meditation on the idea of family.

"Nothing in this album comes from judgment," explains Joseph. "These are stories being told from different voices and mysterious times, which hopefully resonate with all the families everywhere." (Read Joseph's full notes about The Family here.)

Produced, recorded and performed by Joseph, The Family was mixed and sequenced by Tchad Blake, who has collaborated with Arthur on some of his mostly well-known work, including "Honey and the Moon" and "In the Sun" (covered by Michael Stipe and Peter Gabriel).


Credits: Engineered by Joseph Arthur, Merritt Jacob, Sheldon Gomberg.
Recorded almost entirely at Rebel Country Studio in Brooklyn.
Drums recorded at the Carriage House in LA.
All vocals, drums, drum programming, pianos, guitars and synths
By Joseph Arthur
Mixed by Tchad Blake at Full Mongrel, Wales
Produced by Joseph Arthur
Mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine

Tracklisting: The Family, Sister Dawn, With Your Life, They Called Him Lightning, When I Look At You, Wishing Well, Machines of War, Ethel Was Born, You Wear Me Out, Hold On Jerry, You Keep Hanging On, The Flag, Daddy, The War Machine
This painting is titled "You Keep Hanging On". Limited edition prints and the original painting is available in the online shop!

Apr 16, 2016
Le Trianon
Paris, France
Apr 17, 2016
London, UK
Apr 20, 2016
The Acoustic
Bridgeport, CT
Apr 21, 2016
Sellersville Theater
Sellersville, PA
Apr 22, 2016
Rubin Museum of Art
New York, NY
May 16, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
May 17, 2016
Music Box
San Diego, CA
May 19, 2016
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
May 21, 2016
The Cobalt
Vancouver, BC
May 23, 2016
Alberta Rose Theatre
Portland, OR
Jun 5, 2016
Cafe Berlin
Madrid, Spain
Jun 6, 2016
Barcelona, Spain
Jun 8, 2016
Hamburg, Germany
Jun 9, 2016
Gruner Salon
Berlin, Germany
Jun 10, 2016
Munich, Germany
Jun 11, 2016
Koln, Germany
Jun 13, 2016
De Vondelkerk
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jun 14, 2016
Antwerp, Belgium
Jun 16, 2016
Zurich, Switzerland

Visit Joseph's Website