Earlier today, a publicist friend of mine suggested I request press credentials for a forthcoming, new, music festival. “They’ll look at my site and see that I haven’t updated it in months,” I replied. It’s what I said at the outset: I’m not going to write about every show I see, but I will write about the shows I think everyone should experience.
One of the benefits of seeing Joseph Arthur play multiple times is that you simultaneously experience and witness continuous transformation. Listening to Joe play songs from his latest album, The Ballad of Boogie Christ, takes you further along the journey, while maintaining a connection to his beginnings. There’s a through-line that creates the foundation for the audience to step into the next adventure.
Walking onto the stage, in a white suit that appears to have remnants of a painting which extended beyond its original canvas, Joseph Arthur epitomizes “artist.” Appearing as though he sought out the shortest route from the art studio to the stage, he is perpetually creating. The stage becomes his art studio, whether he’s literally painting while singing (as he’s done previously), or playing a new arrangement of an older song (as he did several times tonight).
This show feels and sounds vastly different from other Joseph Arthur shows. It’s clear that this is a new chapter. There are far fewer pedals and more musicians on stage. The show is upbeat, soulful, and rooted in rock. The songs build to a crescendo and you’re enveloped in sound.
When Joseph Arthur plays, it’s more than a concert – he begins with a blank canvas and takes you on a journey. There are nods to the past, the future is optimistic, and you’re grounded – with him – in the present. As with life and relationships, every show is unique. You are part of the experience.
The venue is intimate, but the sound is big. At times it felt as though we were in a stadium, witnessing an immense rock show. “I intentionally didn’t bring a harmonica or acoustic guitar this time,” Joe told me. The instruments have changed; the sound accompanies and embraces the change. The show is infused with passion, love, dedication, and a reminder of what it means to truly be alive.
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are constantly changing. The ideas, beliefs, and ways of life that keep us happy, healthy, and fulfilled, follow suit. When we’re aware of and welcome the changes, we liberate ourselves – we allow ourselves to be the dynamic individuals that we are. We’re present in every moment, constantly creating, being as we are, without attachment.
Walking away from a show, reminded of some of life’s greatest gifts – the ability to create, continuously evolve, and express different incarnations of ourselves during the same lifetime – is definitely worth the price of admission. Not to mention, the music and experience itself is incomparable.
Keep an eye on his tour page and see Joseph Arthur live when the opportunity arises.
Thomas Lindsey kicked off the night with tremendous courage, backed by his exceptional talent. The crowd at The Troubadour was living Friday night like they earned it – cocktails flowing, conversations buzzing – the room was charged. . . and loud. With no introduction, Thomas Lindsey took the stage, looked around, and began to sing. No instruments. No band. It took Lindsey precisely 17 seconds to silence and command the attention of everyone in the room.
Given Stewart’s talent and true genius, his shows are something that need to be experienced first-hand. He takes music, rock & roll, community, collaboration, and style to new heights. If you pay attention to the subtleties, you’ll also discover his quick and poignant sense of humor. Something about Stewart – everything about Stewart – will make you feel more alive, infinite, and connected. He reminds you that rock & roll is meant to be fun, celebratory, and invigorating.
As is the case with Stewart, Stewart’s 12-year old daughter, Kaya, is a talent you need to see for yourself. She will blow you away, period. Kaya raises the bar. The music business should be afraid.
Stewart was joined on stage by a great group of exceptionally talented friends. Among my favorites – and I’ve seen her before – is Orianthi. If you don’t know who she is, look her up. If you haven’t seen her perform, prioritize it on your to-do list. She’ll simultaneously kick your ass and melt your heart, simply in the way she plays. Then, after a couple hours of giving everything she has to live music, she comes off stage and gives everything she has to fans, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and having in-depth, meaningful conversations. If you didn’t know better, you’d think everyone Orianthi met in the crowd for the first time was actually a long-time, dear friend. Again, she’ll kick your ass and melt your heart.
You had to be there. I was there and came home so amped up I couldn’t sleep. Time for coffee.
Here are some pictures:
Thomas Lindsey silenced the entire room, using nothing other than his voice
I remember seeing The White Stripes at The Troubadour a few times a year, in the very early 2000’s. We also used to go see these singer-songwriters named Katy Perry, Sara Bareilles, and Brett Dennen, play at The Hotel Cafe all the time. I was one of 8 people who stumbled into The Mint and saw Jack Johnson play in 1999 or early 2000, well before the masses knew who he was. The Strokes, Metric, Snow Patrol, Keane, Scissor Sisters, Ben Harper, The Airborne Toxic Event, Amos Lee, Ray LaMontagne, The Black Eyed Peas (way, way, way back), Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, Muse, Arcade Fire, Queens of The Stone Age, Portugal The Man (you’ll see what I mean about that one soon). . . the list of “new bands” that I’ve seen perform in tiny venues, before most people knew who they were, is endless.
What does this have to do with Jamie Drake? Well, if you want to get in early on this one, now’s the time. I was introduced to Jamie via a contest she won. Jamie was hand-selected by A&R veteran Michael Rosenblatt (Madonna, Depeche Mode, New Radicals, etc.) to receive his guidance and to record an EP with a respected producer. “Listen to this! Listen to THIS!” Rosenblatt would command, while bouncing out of his seat, with a huge smile on his face, referencing Drake’s early demos. Then, 2 minutes later, “did you listen to it??” By the third minute he was playing Jamie Drake’s music for me from his computer. At that time, I had worked with Rosenblatt for nearly one year and had never seen him that excited about anybody.
On first listen, Drake’s songs are unmistakably good. Upon subsequent listens, they’re brilliant. The art of the album is dying – people are buying (or not) singles and EPs. The coming generation isn’t familiar with the concept of the album as a holistic piece of work, as a story and art of its own. People are consuming songs, legally or illegally, at a rapid pace and churning through them as quickly as they find them. Yet to endure, the songs need to be better. As a listener, you need to feel something every time you hear a song, not just a catchy little tune that will soon annoy you, as it becomes overplayed. You deserve something that moves you, something you can revisit several years from now and still connect with, songs that are themselves a holistic piece of art. Jamie Drake gives you that.
The better an album is, the longer it takes me to get though the first listen. I geek out on songs, listen to them on repeat, hear all the parts, identify where the emotional hooks are, understand the impact of the intersection of the sound of various instruments at a specific moment, inflections in the singer’s voice. . . It took me two weeks to get to the final track of Drake’s album – which also happens to be the title track, and my favorite – “When I Was Yours.”
I listened to tracks one through eight, over and over, on repeat until I understood, down to the second, where and how each song made me feel a specific range of emotions. Eventually, I made my way to track nine, “When I Was Yours.” That song is still on repeat. Minutes 2:12 – 3:02 will break your heart even if your heart has never been broken before. But it’s minutes 0:01 to 2:11 that get you there. Drake’s songs are not simply “good,” they get inside you and fuck you up. The songs stand alone, but they also, conceptually, take you through the journey of the album as a whole. And just like we want to relive the best parts of our lives, I’ve repeated my way, song by song, through the album numerous times now.
I’ve seen Drake perform live a handful of times. The more she plays, the better she gets. Even if she never gets any better than this, she’ll still blow you away. Drake is currently playing Crane’s Tavern in Hollywood on Wednesdays and has an album release show at The Hotel Cafe on May 13th.
“I’m no longer who I was, no longer who I thought I was. . . ” Joseph Arthur sang during a stellar performance of his song, “You Are Free” at The Troubadour. Well, I’ve been seeing Arthur perform live for the past 11 years and I don’t know who he thinks he is, but I think he is still one of the best songwriters around.
The first time I saw Joseph Arthur play he was opening for David Gray at The Palace (now The Avalon) in Hollywood. He performed solo and I watched in amazement as Arthur used numerous pedals to create and loop sounds, building momentum and evolving into extraordinary songs.
Joe and his pedals
It was the first time I had experienced an audience uproar for an opening act to do an encore performance (this was before Queens of The Stone Age opened for Nine Inch Nails). The crowd went insane when Arthur finished his short 30-minute set and were absolutely devastated when he didn’t return for an encore. After David Gray’s set, people were still talking about Joseph Arthur.
Flash forward to January 23, 2010: At this point Arthur can build a song by looping various beats and sounds, as he creates them, effortlessly. Once he lays down the tracks, he can paint while singing.
Joseph Arthur live painting
I’ve seen some live painting during concerts in my time, but usually the painter is another artist, not the performing musician. In Joseph Arthur’s case, he performs while simultaneously painting on several massive canvases. Arthur wasn’t just painting on stage because he could. After the show, Arthur sold his paintings, with 100% of the proceeds donated directly to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
It wasn’t just Arthur, a bunch of pedals, and a paintbrush on stage. Ben Harper sat among Arthur’s very talented band, playing lap steel guitar. Harper accompanied Arthur on vocals during one of his more recognized songs, “In The Sun.” Harper also lent vocals to one of my favorite Joseph Arthur songs, “Ashes Everywhere.” In addition to Ben
Harper, Arthur was joined by band mates Jessy Green, Sibyl Buck, and Kraig Jarret.
Joe sings to the painting
As Arthur played, he’d often look back at the paintings as if he was singing a line specifically to them. “Your holiness is gone. . .” he sang back to a painting, possibly a self-portrait, during “September Baby.” Then Arthur would turn to the audience and sing, “Sometimes love will make you sad until you know where you belong.” And then back to the painting, “You’ll dream of what you never had. . . ”
Arthur played for nearly 3 hours, performing songs including “Honey and The Moon,” “Crying Like A Man,” “Slide Away,” and “Birthday Card.” Several years ago Arthur would play these similarly long sets at Largo, as if he wanted to make up for the lack of an encore during the David Gray show, or just wanted to ensure the audience was satiated. Nobody left early during those intimate shows and such was the case during Arthur’s set at The Troubadour. Although in this case, prior to his second encore, Arthur remarked, “That would be it (the end of the show), but I’ve got to finish these paintings.”
After the show, Arthur made his way to the front room where he signed autographs and took photos with every fan. He continued painting between photos and autographs, sometimes with frustration, other times with ease. Arthur also sold live bootlegs of that night’s show immediately following the set – something he began doing several years ago and that I was pleased to see him continuing to do.
After all these years, thankfully, Joseph Arthur is still who I thought he was.
Last night I posted a review of One eskimO’s live performance at The Hotel Cafe. I thought they were great and really wanted to share some video with you so you could see for yourself. Instead, I adhered to The Hotel Cafe’s no-filming policy and simply sat back happily and enjoyed the music. You can read the review and see a few pictures here.
Luckily, the guys who make up One eskimO – Kristian Leontiou, Pete Rinaldi, Adam Falukner and Jamie Sefton – came to LP33.tv today for an interview and acoustic performance.
Here’s some video of One eskimO playing “Amazing”. Keep in mind, this is B-roll, shot by me (amateur), while staying out of the way of the real crew and dodging equipment. Once the final LP33.tv cut of this video is done, I’ll post it here as well.
“Amazing” Live Acoustic Take 1:
“Amazing” Live Acoustic Take 2:
Kristian and Pete tell LP33.tv about One eskimO
After One eskimO amazed the LP33.tv staff and crew with their performance, we moved outside for an interview. Pete and Kristian talked about their animated movie, touring, writing songs, and some plans for the future. When the interview video piece is edited, I’ll post it here as well. As soon as the interview was over each of the guys made a point of going around to everybody they worked with on the LP33.tv team and thanking them.
It's all about the sound
I spoke with Kristian and Pete for a bit after the interview, specifically about how good their sound was during the Hotel Cafe show last night. They told me they found their current sound guy approximately 6 months ago. They laughed as Pete explained, “You know, usually people will come up to you and say, ‘I love your music. I love your band.’ They’re always talking about the band. But after we play a live show everybody comes up and says, ‘Man! The sound was amazing!’ and everybody’s talking about our sound guy. He’s really become the 5th member of the band. We love him.”
Then, they began joking(ish) that they’re a challenging band to tour manage. They did show up on time, were extremely professional and sincere. . . “You seem like you’d be easy enough to work with,” I offered.
“Yes, it looks that way,” Kristian began, “but we have a tendency to just wander off, without our phones, and not tell anybody where we’re going. Our tour manager is always hoping we turn up before we need to be somewhere. And we do. . . every time.”
I was immediately reminded of when The Strokes first toured the U.S. before Is This It was released. They played a show at The Troubadour which I attended. After the show, I was sitting upstairs, having a drink and talking to a pretty good-looking guy for a while. The Strokes were runnin’ around, doin’ their thing, “relaxing” after the show. Suddenly, the entire band came over and dog-piled us. It turns out the guy I was talking to went to prep school with the band and was one of their closest friends.
“C’mon, let’s go back to the hotel and have another party,” Albert exclaimed.
“Bring her!” Fabrizio said, pointing at me.
All the guys introduced themselves and then Albert inquired, “Hey – do you have a car here?” I told him I did and he asked if we could take my car back to the hotel and if he could drive it. “I love driving and I’ve been stuck on a tour bus for months.”
So, I walk out of The Troubadour with my friend Brigitte, the pretty good-looking guy, and 3 of The Strokes. As we make our way down Santa Monica boulevard to my car, we pass by the alley where the band’s tour bus was parked. From deep in the alley I hear their poor tour manager yell, “HEY! Wait! Where are you guys going??? The bus is over here!!!”
“It’s cool!” Albert replied as he pointed at me, “We’re going with her!”
“Yeah, don’t worry about us. We know where we’re going!” Fabrizio added.
“WHERE are you going?” the tour manager pleaded for information.
“See you later” all the guys replied in unison.
As we walked away I heard the tour manager’s voice in the distance, “Wait! Where’s Julian. . .?”
When Kristian told me that they too wander off, I immediately recalled that moment with The Strokes. I didn’t share that story with Kristian, but he must have sensed what was going through my head because he quickly added, “I mean. . . we don’t get into any kind of trouble or anything. . . we just disappear. . .”
And with that, the band disappeared.
But if they make their way to your town, be sure to check them out (and tell them how good the sound is).
I’ve been watching Greg Laswell perform for a couple years. The first time I saw Greg was an accident. I was at Hotel Cafe to see somebody else perform (notice I don’t remember who) and happened to still be at the bar when Greg took the stage. There were only a handful of people in the room at the time and it’s a good thing I was at the bar because the songs he was playing could depress even the happiest souls. Not that I’m advocating drinking as a band-aid for depression but, that night, it helped.
Considering the number of shows I see, I always pay attention when somebody moves me – when they can overtake my happiness or my sadness or my wandering mind – whether there are 5 people or 30,000 people at the show. I stuck around for Greg’s show and then wondered how long it would take for people to catch on, for him to sell out a room like the Hotel Cafe…
Well, all things considered, it didn’t take long at all. Greg started filling the Hotel Cafe toward the end of last year, and earlier this year he played 2 back to back sold-out nights at the Hotel Cafe. Then, on Thursday, August 6th Greg played to a sold-out crowd at The Troubadour.
Oh, The Troubadour. Some of my favorite performances have taken place at this venue. The White Stripes used to play 2-3 back to back nights at The Troubadour – and we’d go every year. Ryan Adams played there during the tour for Heartbreaker. The Strokes played there before the US release of Is This It. Queens of The Stone Age. Jackson Browne. Damien Rice. I’ve been seeing shows at that venue for 12 years. So it was really fun to see somebody, whose career I had watched build up to this point, play at a venue that has so much nostalgia, not only for me but for musicians and fans at large.
Laswell sitting in with Elizabeth... and The Catapult (not pictured)
Elizabeth and The Catapult, a band I’d never heard of, took the stage first. Actually, there may have been another opener before them, but I wasn’t there for that, so relatively speaking, The Catapult was first. As I watched this group from Brooklyn captivate the audience with a fantastic performance, I thought about how amazing it must have been for them to play to a sold-out crowd at The Troubadour. I have a feeling they’ll be doing it again.
Up next was Greg. This was the last stop on his US tour. . . and he sounded better than ever. It’s interesting to watch someone play a small room and think that they’re really good. But when they finally play a stage that’s more their size, you realize just how good they are. (Note: the converse is also possible).