Joseph Arthur Joins Twilight Singers on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last night in Hollywood, Twilight Singers stopped by the Jimmy Kimmel Live program to promote their just released record Dynamite Steps. The Greg Dulli fronted band performed the song “On The Corner” with a little help from our good pal Joseph Arthur. You can watch the complete performance below.
This was not the first time Arthur has joined Twilight Singers on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Click here to check out a performance of “40 Dollars” and “Sublime” from a few years back.
If you want to check out Twilight Singers live and in person, click here for spring 2011 tour dates that find the band performing in both Europe and North America.
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 Parkhas 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 (email@example.com).
Joseph Arthur & Friends (w/ MK & the Gentlemen & “Juan” Y) 04/09/10
The Stronghold – Venice, CA
words/photos/videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Updated 06/28/11: The channel that hosted nearly 700 videos for Concert Confessions was removed from YouTube earlier this month. In re-uploading these videos, I discovered a video of “Juan.” As it turns out, “Juan” is actually “Y”. For those who have read my 2011 reviews of Joseph (which you can read here, here, here and here) you know it took me weeks to figure out his name. Originally, I did not upload the video of Y performing on April 9th (since I didn’t have a song title or proper name) but it has been included in this updated review. We hope you enjoy.
Over the months after myfirst Joseph Arthur show, I was angry. In the months since my second Joseph Arthur show, I have become geeky fan boy obsessed. I have hit both indie and big chain record stores filling the gaps in my compact disc (yes I still buy those) collection. I printed out some guitar tabs and began the process of learning how to personally butcher the music that I love so much. Most of all, I sat around dreaming about how I will get my next fix of the man live and in person. Much to my shock and delight, that chance not only came less than three months from the mind shattering Troubadour shows, but in the form of a month long residency less than five miles from home. While I was unable to make the first show due to a prior showcommitment, I squealed like a pig in mud when I saw that the final three shows were clear on my calendar. So with the work week in the rear view, I headed south to Venice on the second Friday in April eager to get a much needed fix of Joseph Arthur. Unknown to me, I was in for quite the fix as strange things are afoot at The Stronghold in Venice, CA.
Having no idea as to the start time, I showed up around 8:30pm. Clearly this was way too early so I walked up and down Abbot-Kinney debating which food truck to eat dinner at. After making my choice, I headed back and decided I would form the line while chowing down. At a time, I was a bit disappointed with myself. After all, I rushed out the door like a mad man to get down to the venue, only to have nothing to do for an hour but stuff my face with warm sushi and run down the battery on my iphone. The doors for the venue above a vintage clothing store finally opened about 9:45pm, and after making a $15 dollar donation I headed up the old wooden staircase. I was surprised to see that the venue was nothing more than a glorified loft with a tiny stage and two big brown leather couches nailed into the hard wood floors. It took me a second, but then a large smile slowly spread across my face. I made a b-line to the stage left couch and plopped down right in front of the mic stand (or as I discovered the best friggin seat in the house). I quickly made friends with two very intoxicated blondes who sat down next to me around the same time. Now that seat guarding was in place, I headed to the drink area, where I made a $10 donation for two cans of Turtle Piss Mexican Beer (thankfully, the party later upgraded to chilled cans of Tecate and Tecate Light).
As the loft began to fill, a band out of Venice called MK & The Gentlemen took the stage. Even if the music had sucked, I would encourage every straight single male within a 30 mile zone of any and all shows to check this band out. While I doubt I am the first to come up with the term TunaFest, it sure as hell sums up the crowd. As far as the music goes, it’s what you would expect from four dudes out of Venice. Laid back slow melody rich beach jams very similar to Jack Johnson. However, while it is easy to compare based off the overall sound, MK & The Gentlemen blow Jack Johnson away on a technical level. Within those laid back grooves are short and sudden bursts of almost hippie-esque noodle goodness. In fact, vocally the bands front man (MK I assume) reminded me a lot of Chuck Garvey from moe. While not my favorite style of music, MK & the Gentlemen really left a lasting impression, and not just because a large number of women in the crowd were moving and shaking across the dance floor. Jack Johnson is great in short bursts, but after 15 minutes it feels like the same song over and over which of course leaves to boredom. MK manage to mix it up from number to number without ever leaving their comfort zone. A middle eastern flavored song here, a heavy tribal grove there, I was entertained and even a little disappointed when they were told they only had time for one more. If you’re a fan of the O.A.R. Donovan FrankenCitizenCope surf bum prep hippie light jam acoustic bongo noodle rock sound (and I know some of you are) then MK & The Gentlemen are for you.
As beach dwelling hippies and/or hipsters sipped mixed drinks out of large Dixie paper cups, I took a moment to really soak in my surroundings. This wasn’t a show this was more of a party at some strangers house. Hell, there was a dog running around, you don’t see that shit at Club Nokia that’s for damn sure. It felt like the cops could bust in at any moment, and when not focused on the Christmas lights covering the spiral staircase behind the scare I was pondering if the old brick building could survive The Big One. Then there was the door with the sign that said “Artists Only” which had everyone and anyone walking in and out of it. Obsessive stalker fan boy took over as I had the perfect view of Arthur sitting on a couch getting ready to hit the stage. When he finally hit the stage it really hit me; I am about to watch Joseph Arthur rock someones living room.
Joined by Jessy Greene on violin and Rami Jaffee on accordion, Arthur kicked off the second night of his residency with “I Donated Myself To The Mexican Army.” I instantly wondered if perhaps it was an ode to the night’s beer stash? Towering above me, the lanky Arthur’s sang into the mic eyes closed focused only on the music. As party goers chatted at the same volume as the sounds coming from the tiny plywood stage, Arthur and company carried on. “September Baby” is one of the songs that has been on repeat in my mind since January, so I was thrilled when it made an early appearance. The few hipsters who made it out from Echo Park were equally as excited to hear a song named after their home town.
Still having a few gaps in my collection, Arthur played a lot of material I was unfamiliar with. Perhaps there were some new songs in there, I am not really sure. One song it almost appeared made up on the spot. After creating another trademark loop with his guitar, Arthur ripped some pages out of a notebook and began reading what seemed to be a poem. While both shows had a rabid fan base, this is something that would have never worked at The Troubadour, but was perfect for The Stronghold. It was also around this time that Arthur switched from acoustic to electric and the show went to a whole new level. While I can appreciate all of his music, I have always been drawn to the crazy riffs and loops that he creates. While he had used a Telecaster back in January, Arthur never really maximized it’s potential. I am unable to name what kind of guitar he had on this particular night, but with an unusually high amount of knobs and switches I can tell you that it was anything but ordinary. I had never realized just how hard Arthur can shred. Bending string and slamming down on a whammy bar, Arthur can really tear it up as a lead guitarist. In fact I am hard pressed to find anything this man can’t do?
As one of those assholes who lives on their cellphone, I noticed that fellow LA blogger/twitter palRock Is A Girl’s Best Friend was in the crowd and shared a pic. Low and behold she was standing right behind me. I quickly introduced myself between songs (as we had yet to actually meet in person), and sunk back into the coach around the time that Arthur brought out fellow Ohio rocker Greg Dulli (The Twilight Singers, The Afghan Whigs, The Gutter Twins). I have to assume the invite from Arthur was on the spot, as Dulli appeared hesitant in joining the fun. After discussing who would take the high road and who would take the low road vocally, the two voices blended together on “Take Me Home”. As Arthur began to finger pick out the opening notes on his guitar, Dulli clenched his can of beer, took a deep breath and eased right into the quiet number. A few songs later, Arthur was joined by local singer/songwriter Queen Kwong. A much bigger enthusiast of cats than myself, Kwong (real name Carré Callaway) encouraged the packed room to hush before she shared her soft song “Black Heart.” While I had mixed feelings about her performance last fall opening for Nine Inch Nails, on this particular night Kwong really sucked me into her world. Singing about breaking hearts, the tiny Kwong strummed an acoustic guitar with a body much larger than hers. You could really feel the vulnerability within the performance, and I must wonder if perhaps Kwong is better suited as a delicate singer songwriter vs. electric rocker grrrrrrrl?
With all the guests up on stage, it was an actress who made the biggest impression on my night. Out of nowhere appeared Emmy Award nominee Rosanna Arquette. Taking a seat on the floor in front of the stage towards the end of the set, Arquette managed to convice Arthur to play another song I am currently obsessed with “Redemption Son.” With the same acoustic used by Kwong now looking small on him, Arthur applied his capo and dove right in. With eyes closed Arthur begged for forgiveness into the mic and produced huge glowing smiles on the faces of both myself and Courtney Cox’s sister-in-law.
Dressed like a mix of Yoko Ono era John Lennon and Hunter S. Thompson, Arthur towards the end of the set allowed Greene to take center stage and lead the band for a song. It would be only minutes later that Arthur would end up closing his set with “Crying Like A Man.” Setting up another loop, Arthur put down his guitar and finished a painting which he started moments before the first notes rang from the stage. It was at this point that for the first time Greene, Jaffee and a fourth musician (who based off my observation may be an employee of the venue who helps as a stage hand etc) overpowered the music instead of complimenting it. As soon as Arthur completed the panting, he wished the crowd goodnight, leaving the others to provide a backdrop of melody before slowly exiting one by one. As soon as folks realized there would be no encore they slowly began to exit the loft. Despite a bladder full of canned Mexican goodness I was not ready to get up. I watched as various individuals raced to set up the stage for the next act, but really my mind needed a few solid moments to process what had just occurred. Here was a man who back in January created the best performance I have seen this decade, and before you can say Memorial Day he has gone and created something 100% different, yet equally as brilliant. While I eventually peeled myself off the couch, I was in no rush to go home. In fact, I ended up watching the entire next set that featured two gentlemen on guitars. Sadly I could never make out their name (I thought it was Juan, and when I confirmed with the singer, he said no, but if I wanted to call him that I could), but with the loft now only holding a handful of people, Arthur beat upon a single drum for most of their set.
With what appeared to be a fusion/reggae band setting up after “Juan” had wrapped up a humor filled set of indie folk songs, I had to tap out. With the rumor of Arthur wrapping up at 3am with a few solo acoustic songs, I really wanted to stay, but was drained from a long week. I convinced myself that this was OK, based off the fact that there is no way in hell I will not be there over the next two Friday night’s. In fact, if you’re game, I personally invite you to join me next Friday night to show up early (yes Los Angeles, I know that’s asking a lot) and help me man the stage left coach. Personally, I am counting down the hours before I can watch Joseph Arthur create an explosion of images and sounds while hardly breaking a sweat.