Tag: C.C. White

Joseph Arthur 03/01/11: Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, CA

Joseph Arthur 03/01/11

Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

While millions sat glued to their television sets on a Tuesday night, I once again found myself entering the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Sure, perhaps Charlie Sheen was WINNING the ratings war for ABC, but for those tightly packed into the warehouse turned music venue, the real victory was watching Joseph Arthur close his triumphant month long run.

I actually entered the venue about 62 minutes before Sheen took the airwaves on the West coast. For those who read my first two reviews from this run, I have good news. The guy(s) who plays each week before the show is supposed to start are named Y. The bad news is that any respect I had for the guy(s) was lost as Y made the unfortunate decision to wear a Journey t-shirt. Anyone who knows me knows I fucking hate Journey more than Charlie Sheen hates Chuck Lorre. That said; each week I saw Y, the duos confidence grew and their songs are coming along nicely despite the fact they belong on Mr. Blackwell’s worst dressed list.

The actual opening act was a band called Line and Circle. Apparently one of the dudes grew up across the street from Joseph Arthur. The best way to describe the bands sound is VaginaCore. It’s pop-rock with an indie edge for gals who wear moccasins, leggings and scarves. While I am not opposed to the soft flowing sounds of VaginaCore, there is a fine line between pulling it off and being dull and boring. I wish I could say that Line and Circle pulled it off, however that is not the case. The riffs lacked depth, the band looked stiff and the only thing that managed to excite me during the 30 minute set was the outro jam of the bands second song.  Now, before you accuse me of being the angry metal head without an open mind to this form of music take note that I surveyed three females who saw the performance. Two of the three informed me that they were bored by Line and Circle. Who knows, maybe it was a bad night, maybe they just flat out suck? Regardless, of the three acts I saw open for Arthur over the past month, this is the only one I plan to avoid in the future.

After a lengthy tear down, Arthur took the Bootleg stage for the final Tuesday of his residency at just past 10:30pm Had it not been for his white Strat being out of tune, we would have witnessed an opening run of “You Are Free>A Smile That Explodes>Vacancy.” However, with the guitar too far gone out of tune, Arthur had no choice but to stop seconds into “Vacancy.” It what would become a reoccurring theme throughout the evening (mic stands falling, monitors not working), gremlins overtook Arthur’s pedal board mid-way through “Vacancy” causing him to loose his vast collection of loops. This had no effect on Arthur as he continued on with the song despite the bump in the road.

When not leading the crowd in OMMMM chants or begging Mexican Coke-a-cola for a sponsorship, Arthur was showcasing songs that are expected to be on his upcoming solo album. After performing the finger picked “Out On A Limb” by himself, Arthur invited fellow Lonely Astronaut Sibyl Buck to the stage. Buck added just the right amount of vocal melody to lush and mellow numbers such as “Love Never Asks You To Lie” & “This Is Still My World.” When not joking with the venues sound man or various friends and family in the audience, Arthur was having a laugh with Buck, informing the crowd that “This Is Still My World” is without a doubt her favorite pop song in the universe. When the duo finally began the song, the audience was hypnotized by its soft and soothing sounds.

I had actually put my camera away for a second when Arthur invited vocalist C.C. White and sax player Helga (last name unknown) to join him and Buck upon the stage. Looking right me Arthur joked that this one should be placed onto YouTube. As others rushed to reach their cameras, the four-some (especially Helga) took his song “Faith” and made it feel more New Orleans then Los Angeles. Outer space by way of Bonnaroo poetry tent jam “I Missed The Zoo” followed and with that Arthur thanked the crowd before leaving the stage. Looking at my phone (the cell phone is the new watch for those keeping score at home) I assumed we would get a brief encore and our wonderful month would be over. Thankfully I was wrong.

As it turns out, Arthur essentially came back for a second set. Things got underway with Arthur creating loops on a drum before hitting up the venues piano for “Eyes On My Back.”  From there, Arthur performed songs he promised friends that he would play for them. Melding pure Rock ‘n Roll instinct with layers of distorted melodies; one could close their eyes and imagine they were listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performing “Black Lexus.” Obligated to keep his word, Arthur dusted off “Can’t Exist” at the request of someone named Kenny. Yet what happened next is the hands down highlight of any Joseph Arthur show I have ever seen.

Our catch phrase here at Concert Confessions is Live Music Reviews By Fans For Fans. I take great pride in this website, and what sets us apart from Rolling Stone or Pitchfork is the fact that we are real music fans sharing our experience with the addiction known as live music. So you can imagine the shockwaves that went through my body when Arthur stopped strumming the opening chords of “Slide Away “ and told the crowd “Hey that’s the Concert Confession guy right there.” My heart started pounding, my knees almost buckled and a the smile on my face probably looked as if I was a 13 year old girl who had just met Justin Bieber. Arthur is easily one of the top 10 live acts I have seen in my life, so for him to give us a shout out is a moment I hope I get to re-live if my life ever flashes in front of me.

I actually had to watch the video of “Slide Away” to remember what went down after the shout out. In watching the replay, all I have to say is Go Helga! With the encore now close to 45 minutes in length, it was clear that Arthur had no desire to exit stage. It was actually well past midnight when Arthur informed us the final number would be “Lack A Vision.” The loop heavy song gave the multi-tasking artist the opportunity to finish his on stage painting before calling it a night (or so we thought). As he exited the stage, Arthur paused, picked up his acoustic guitar before basically sitting in the laps myself, Rock is a Girl’s Best Friend and a few other lucky fans. Despite having turned down a request for his biggest hit earlier in the night, Arthur launched into “In The Sun.” All who left early missed a truly inspiring moment. There wasn’t a single person inside the Bootleg who didn’t join in on vocals. In fact the only thing that was missing was a campfire. It truly was the perfect ending to an incredible run with Joseph Arthur. I really truly feel blessed to have witnessed and even slightly become a part of such a powerful experience and I can’t wait to do it again something.

Joseph Arthur 02/15/11: Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, CA

Joseph Arthur 02/15/11

Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

As the rain began to fall on the South Land, I once again headed east towards downtown Los Angeles for a night with Joseph Arthur. A lack of sleep, a stressful week at the day job and the fact I was fresh out of business cards wasn’t going to stop me from missing night two of Arthur’s month long run at Bootleg Theater. While some may argue that GENTRIFICATION from Echo Park has hit this neighborhood, I once again witnessed events on my drive that made this sixFOOTtwo 200+ pound white boy cringe. Yet like I said last week, its Joseph f’n Arthur and he’s worth it.

Before I had a chance to hand over the $12 cover fee, I heard something familiar from last week. It was the soft sounds of the two nameless guys who play before the posted start time. I stood for a few minutes watching, but then decided my time would be better spent exploring the back room where various paintings of Arthur are being displayed. I will say that the band mentioned their name at the end of the set, but unfortunately I couldn’t quite make the name out. I know it starts with a W and I believe they said their name was Whine. Perhaps if we cross paths in two weeks, I can nail this information down and finally give them proper credit.

The main support act for the evening was Nashville based folk indie pop singer/songwriter Madi Diaz (and her pal Keith). Before the duo had a chance to perform a single song, Diaz had won me over with her charming stage banter. Stalling for time while the soundman worked on Keith’s malfunctioning guitar, Diaz joked about jogging, lunch and at what point in the work week it becomes acceptable to eat BBQ (for the record, if you work in Burbank it’s Wednesday when Smokin’ Willie’s BBQ Truck comes to town). Once the problem was corrected, we were underway for a set of music that ended up being far more impressive then the stage banter.

I always fear when I see a duo get up on stage with nothing more than acoustic guitars and vocal chords. Any asshole(s) can get up and play a few chords while expressing their inner most thoughts via verse/chorus/verse format. However, it takes true talent and a little bit of luck to stir emotions deep in one’s soul and thankfully for Keith and Madi they have been blessed with both. While I am unable to tell you exact song titles, I can tell you that the set consisted of songs about relationships with the one you love. There was the break up song, and then there was the make out song and who could forget the soft sad song which featured a special guest appearance by some stupid hipster in the crowd cracking open a can of PBR?

While the duo may only have limited instrumentation, each song took a very different sonic journey thanks to the use of various tunings and style of play. One song was almost punk rock in nature with the quick and powerful strumming of power chords, while the next song would feature flamenco inspired finger picking. It’s rare I write three paragraphs about an opening act, but Madi (and Keith) could have very well headlined on this particular night. Their music moved the collective soul of all in the converted warehouse; and as the duo exited the stage you just knew that all those folks reaching for their phones were texting friends to share what they had just discovered.

I’ll spare you the details on the drunken hipster dressed like a sailor who almost got his ass kicked for talking shit about my Iron Maiden shirt and get straight to the main event. Hailing from Akron, Ohio by way of New York City, Joseph Arthur took to the stage with his tag team partner for the night – Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins at 10pm sharp. By the time the two were bashing out the final notes of the opening number “Black Lexus” it was clear that on this rainy Tuesday night that when he wants to, Arthur; can compete with some of the best rock & roll duo’s to call Akron home.

The duo of Arthur & Simins really clicked by the third song of the night, which I can only describe as Temporary People>Poetry Reading>Jam. As I have said before, each show Arthur puts on is a unique one of a kind experience and this version of “Temporary People” was completely different from the version of a week ago. The outro jam was much like watching Dr. Frankenstein vs. Godzilla battle it out. Arthur worked feverishly tweaking guitar pedals and whaling upon a white Stratocaster as Simins wreaked havoc upon his five piece drum set. What’s most freakish in looking back was the fact that these two were just warming up.

 

Aiming to please (his words, not mine) Arthur began taking requests from various females in the audience. First up was “Vacancy” which featured a subdued Simins lightly hitting his kit while allowing the focus to remain on Arthur. Had the chatty Arthur not mentioned the fact Simins didn’t know the next request “Invisible Hands” chances are no one would have noticed. While the song was slightly faster than most versions, yet the haunting feeling that comes with the number was as strong as ever.

As Arthur joked with the crowd after performing “Invisible Hands” a voice from the back of the room screamed FAT TONY. Holding back a giant smile, Arthur invited the heckler up on stage. Why wouldn’t he, the heckler was current Twilight Singers/former Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli. No stranger to sharing the stage with Arthur, both men confessed their fears over having to share a mic with bad breath. Thankfully Dulli came to the rescue with a pack of gum that had only two remaining pieces (sorry Russell). With fresh breath between them both, the two singers belted out Arthur’s biggest hit to date “In The Sun.”  For as amazing as it was to see the two perform together once again, what happened next truly blew my mind.

A moment after inviting vocalist C.C. White to the stage, Arthur glanced in my direction (or at least I would like to think he did). He informed White that his father had watched last week’s performance on the internet and his father felt that perhaps White had held back. It took me a second, but then it sunk in that Joseph Arthur’s father had seen my video on the internet. Talk about an honor. As far as this version of “Heroes” goes, I am glad to report that White took Mr. Arthur’s advice and didn’t hold back at all.

I can’t lie, I love watching the evolution of “I Miss The Zoo.” Intense bursts of poetry over gnarling guitar lines, “Zoo” punches you in the chest with brass knuckles. After a rocking “Slide Away” the duo closed the set with “Lack A Vision.” With loops in place, Arthur finished his latest on stage painting that he began moments before the first note was played. Unlike last week, he returned for an encore. The only song performed solo by Arthur all night was “Honey and the Moon” by request of yet another female fan. The duo closed with “Speed of Light” which started off soft and reserved but slowly built up into a raging end-all-be-all rock and roll machine. Arthur made multiple trips to his amp in order to crank up the volume and send the crowd home with their ears ringing.

Sadly I won’t be able to cover next weeks show at the Bootleg. I had already taken the opportunity to check out Lazarus AD & Death Angel at the Key Club days before Arthur announced his residency, but do not fear. I will be back for the final night, but in the event anyone wants to cover next week for Concert Confessions, please drop us an e-mail (concertconfessions@gmail.com).

Joseph Arthur 02/08/11: Bootleg Theater – Los Angeles, CA

Joseph Arthur 02/08/11

Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

I had heard only bad things about Bootleg Theater. Adjacent to downtown Los Angeles, from the lack of parking in an undesirable neighborhood to the venues stale atmosphere my expectations were rather low. Oh, and who can overlook the fact that the name is Bootleg Theater, yet the art of bootlegging is highly frowned upon? I have always told myself that if an artist is worth being stabbed, shot or mugged for, then I would schlep out to Historic Filipino Town for some live music. So with low expectations I headed towards downtown hoping my tombstone would not end up reading “Died at a Joseph Arthur Show in a Shit Part of Town.”

My iPhone lied to me and traffic was much lighter on Interstate 10 then expected. The reward of an early arrival was the “musical” styling of two dudes who never once mentioned the name of their act. No joke, before the first song had finished 4/5th of the room had cleared. It’s not that the duo was bad; I just feel that the crowd was not ready to watch the illegitimate love child of Rainn Wilson and Chris Burke sing folk songs. Let’s be honest, it takes balls to perform a song called “Freebird” that is not the version made famous Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yet these two guys did just that much to the delight of what I must assume is the love interest of half if not the entire band. It would be easy for me to rip these dudes apart for their boring songs, dreadful banter and major lack of stage presence and bodily hygiene. Instead, I will just encourage to duo to continue with you art. Perhaps you will grow as performers even if no one knows who the fuck you are.

The actual announced opener goes by the name of Tom Freund. Prior to Tuesday night, I was not familiar with the singer/songwriter. Unlike the first act, Freund won over the near capacity crowd with his 30 minute set of reflective and hilarious songs. Freund splits his time between acoustic guitar and upright bass and is fierce upon the strings of both instruments. When on bass, his grooves remind me of Les Claypool, which is a compliment in the highest. For about half of his set, Freund welcomed piano virtuoso (and former Joseph Arthur opening act) Chris Joyner to the stage. We all know Joyner commands the keys, but on this particular evening his ivory tickling was minimal and only served to accentuate the music.

The most impressive moment of Freund’s time upon the stage was the set closing “Truly Mellow.” Described as a song about getting high as a teen, Freund asked the crowd to sing along to the final verse. A rare task that not even the likes of Linkin Park can pull off in this town, the crowd willingly sang along with Freund ending a truly magical set on a high note.

Sir Arthur (as dubbed by Freund) hit the stage for the first of four consecutive Tuesday nights at Bootleg just past 10pm. Arthur artistically multi-tasks by performing music while painting on stage. He showcased both gifts right out the gate as he opened the 100 minute set with some paints and “A Smile That Explodes.” My first trip to “Chicago” with Arthur quickly followed as the goose bumps began to take hold upon my flesh. Such a powerful song (aren’t they all?) and to once again be up front and (almost) center with the man is nothing short of inspiring.

With a new full length solo album due out in the spring, Arthur’s set consisted of numerous songs I assume will be on the album. One highlight was a new number that I believe was called “Out on a Limb.” The song is everything you would expect from Arthur; semi-personal lyrics, lush melodies and his trademark guitar loops. A funny moment came right after “Limb” as Arthur attempted to begin “Watch Your Shadows Run.” He completely spaced and forgot how to play the song. After joking and struggling for a few moments, Arthur found the songs correct key and went to town. Many artists would have simply given up and moved onto the next song. Watching Arthur struggle turn into triumph only made my already massive amounts of respect for the man grow.

Arthur welcomed opener Tom Freund to the stage to perform two numbers upon his upright bass. The first was a version of “I Miss the Zoo” that was rather raw compared to previous live versions I have witnessed. Then again, with Arthur informing Freund what chords make up “Zoo” and the following number “Lack A Vision” on stage seconds before performing the songs, a certain raw vulnerability was to be expected. As soon as Freund left, Arthur welcomed a friend from last year’s Stronghold residency to the stage. Armed with the voice of an angel; C.C. White joined Arthur for the nights high point, “All The Old Heroes.” With at least a 14 inch difference in height the two managed to share a mic while also sharing an energy that can’t be put into words.  White’s vocal took the place of the guitar solo bringing huge smiles to all in attendance.

For the final few numbers, it appeared Arthur decided to ditch what he wanted to play in order to take some requests. All the songs one would expect to be screamed out were indeed screamed out. I was forced to ponder if the fan who screamed “Freebird” wanted to hear the classic version or the version performed upon the same stage a few hours earlier. While neither version of “Freebird” was played, plenty of fan favorites were. The first was “Echo Park” which worked well as we were gathered together just minutes from the Los Angeles neighborhood of the same name. As always, “Black Lexus” was money in the bank and not just because the song mentions the very city we call home.

It was the final two songs of the night that reminded me why I would venture into a rough neighborhood well past my bedtime on a Tuesday night. I have seen Arthur perform both “Slide Away” and the eventual set closer “You Are Free” numerous times. Each version has managed to stay true to the original recorded version, yet is performed in a unique manner each time. Arthur is a one man jam band, taking his songs into the unknown every time he hits a stage. Don’t believe me, check out YouTube and see for yourself. Better yet, get your ass down to Bootleg Theater the next three Tuesday nights. It was clear from the first night that Arthur is just getting warmed up. I look forward to see what goes down over the next few weeks inside the plywood walls of the Bootleg Theater.

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