2011-03-31 - Radio Television Hong Kong, Hong Kong

On Stage :

Solo radio session.

Setlist :

out on a limb
temporary people

Recording :

2011-03-31 RTHK

2011-03-31 - Hidden Agenda Live House, Hong Kong

On Stage :

Solo concert

Setlist :

Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event.
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.

Poster :


INTERVIEW : 2011-03-29 Time Out Hong Kong Interview (by Adrian Sandiford)

Signed by Peter Gabriel to Real World Records in the mid-1990s, Ohio singer-songwriter Arthur has been a persistent darling of the critics, with seven albums of rich, creative folk-rock; success as a visual artist; and – in recent years – member of a supergroup with Ben Harper and Dhani ‘George’s son’ Harrison (Fistful of Mercy, if you were wondering). We grabbed some phone time with him on his way out of a Mexican restaurant in LA, having recently filmed a spot on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show.

You’re known for recording your live shows and making them available immediately after the gig. Is that something you’ll be doing in Hong Kong?

That’s a good question. I don’t know yet, but I hope we do. It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time and I think I’ll always embrace it. I’m not precious – if it’s not perfect, it’s OK, you know. Especially now, because every gig winds up on YouTube, so there’s less pressure; people are recording me all the time and everything you do is a click away. So I think you just have a less precious attitude. I think I was one of the first, if not the first, to do that; Peter Gabriel was the person to give me the idea to do it.

Peter Gabriel is said to have “discovered” you. What’s your relationship with him now?

Our relationship is in a good place and I love him dearly. I consider him part of my family in a way. I mean he mentored me. I was on his label and so we’ve got a very close relationship. He really opened up his world to me, and taught me a lot. It’s such a strong part of my history. When I look back at it I feel very lucky. It’s over now, that aspect, but I still have a lot of love for him and his family, and am still really close with them.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Akron, Ohio, which was a pretty dead industry town. All the factories had, like, died out. I grew up in this suburban landscape. It wasn’t too terribly tough or anything. It wasn’t a lavish environment. It was kind of like a ghost town. I think it fostered going into my imagination a lot, because there wasn’t much to do. When you come from a place like that, you end up turning to your inner landscape, and making art and music. I didn’t have a back-up plan. I never went to college. I just went for music and never looked back.

You’re known for using your paintings as album covers. Do you worry the rise of digital is going to lead to the demise of sleeve artwork?

Things evolve, they change; I mean there are definitely worlds that start dying out a little bit, but then new worlds open up. There is so much creative potential in the digital age that I can’t feel very bad about whatever we’re losing. Not to say I don’t love the album sleeves, but there’s so much other potential in terms of accessible filmmaking, having a recording studio on your laptop, stuff like that. The potential is awesome. The more technology builds, the more potential there is for new kinds of visual landscapes and digital art that we’ll be able to explore with music. There’s so much to choose from – there are so many worlds opening up. Nothing good can come out of wishing it was different.


PRESS KIT : The Gradation Ceremony

For Immediate Release March 28, 2011

Joseph Arthur Announces The Graduation Ceremony (May 24th / Lonely Astronaut),

His First Solo Album Since 2006’s Nuclear Daydream

Joseph Arthur’s music has been described as “a dynamic swirl of noise that somehow appears magically around him” (NPR), “emotional (but tuneful) exorcisms” (Entertainment Weekly), and “lush, poetic, squalling, spiritual, and strange. Just like life” (Boston Globe). Vanity Fair has hailed him as “one of our most emotionally revealing and talented singer-songwriters.” Michael Stipe once told the Los Angeles Times, “Jo is one of those rare writer-performers where you get the sense, whatever you believe, that something greater is being channeled through his music and voice…It touches something very deep and universal.”

“There’s nothing to do in the Midwest but dream,” sings Joseph Arthur on The Graduation Ceremony (May 24th / Lonely Astronaut). Co-produced by John Alagia and Joseph, the release marks Arthur’s first solo album since Nuclear Daydream (2006) and follow up to Fistful of Mercy, his 2010 collaboration with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison. “I wanted to make something simple,” says Joseph, who originally planned to release the project as a duo with the album’s drummer, the legendary Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan, John Lennon).

The Graduation Ceremony began as a minimally produced, acoustic album of classic songwriting that grew to be an elegantly orchestrated, haunting body of work.

Joseph Arthur will be touring the US throughout 2011 and the Gershwin Hotel in New York City will be exhibiting his paintings for the month of June.

The Graduation Ceremony credits:

Produced by: John Alagia & Joseph Arthur

Recorded by: Sheldon Gomberg at Carriage House LA and John Alagia at Village Recording

Mixed by: John Alagia at Village Recording / Mastered by: Scott Hull at Masterdisk

Jim Keltner: Drums

Joseph Arthur: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys, Drums

John Alagia: Guitar, Bass, Keys

Jessy Greene: Violin

Sibyl Buck, Brian Cohen, Madi Diaz, Liz Phair: Backing Vocals

01) “Out on a Limb”

02) “Horses”

03) “Almost Blue”

04) “Someone to Love”

05) “Watch our Shadows Run”

06) “This Is Still My World”

07) “Over the Sun”

08) “Face in the Crowd”

09) “Midwest”

10) “Gypsy Faded”

11) “Call”

12) “Love Never Asks You to Lie


Contact: Carla Parisi at Kid Logic, kidlogicmedia@gmail.com or 973-563-820



INTERVIEW : 2011-03-27 Joseph Arthur Emerges In Australia (by Andrew Watt)

So where have I been for the last decade or so? I’ve recently discovered an artist namedJoseph Arthur. He’s extraordinary. Maybe you have heard of him and already know what I am talking about. I hadn’t until recently. The whole world should. Listening through his extensive back catalogue of music, virtually all of which is on independent labels, I’m hearing traces of numerous other artists who I either love or respect, or both. Here’s a few discernable influences: Lou Reed, Mark Bolan, David Bowie, Jim Carroll, old blues greats like John Lee Hooker, the Rolling Stones, more obscure artists like Garland Jeffrey and more contemporary names like Ben Harper, David Gray and Grant Lee Phillips. But he’s not a copy of any of them, in fact, he’s brilliantly original.

I became aware of Joseph Arthur because he’s touring Australian soon as a part of Bluesfest – in a kinda supergroup thingy with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison (son of George) called Fistful of Mercy. Arthur is going to do his own solo shows in Melbourne and Sydney where he is likely to both play music and paint on stage. Oh, didn’t I mention he was also a prolific and highly regarded visual artist as well?

I need to find a big mirror and have a damn good look at myself.

Andrew meet Jo, Jo meet Andrew…


HHMM: With so much output, both as a musician and as a visual artist, how would you describe your approach to art? Is it an obsession, a compulsion, a job?

JA: It occupies my mind all the time. Visual art works the same way as music. You care about each project individually and then when its done you’re on to the next. There is a compulsive aspect to it but it’s a healthy compulsion like exercising your spirit or something. These things evolve through you and you evolve through them, you know? You can trace personal growth through your history of making art. It’s also a process of becoming more genuine all the time and getting more down to it hopefully and becoming more truthful and more profound. It’s also a way to kill time. It’s like the most serious thing and the most frivolous thing at the same time. It’s packed with meaning and it’s meaningless. It’s almost like a play of opposites. That’s what I like about painting and making music. One is coming through your eyes and one is coming through your ears. It’s interesting.

HHMM: Something else you seem to have done well is to solve that dichotomy between art and commerce. Your art remains very pure but your willingness to share it and provide people with commercial access to it seems to be working really well.

JA: Thank you for saying it. It’s interesting, I haven’t had a whole lot of commercial success but I still can make a living. I think I’m kind of shameless about trying to make a living with it. I think there might be more shame attached to it if you were like stinking rich! But if you are not and you are living hand to mouth or maybe a little better than that sometimes, or not as quite that sometimes, then you can maybe be more open about trying to make some money. But I think that is maybe the times we are living in too. The wall between being an artist and being, say, a plumber is less. There’s no distinction any more. There used to be some kind of invisible wall between being and artist and the rest of the world and I don’t think there is that anymore.

HHMM: It is an exciting time now in music because the access to the audience is clearly no longer solely determined by corporations.

JA: Yeah, but it is and it isn’t. If you look at most of the most successful bands in the world they are all still deeply affiliated with corporations. But there are other possibilities now. I remember when I first got my first record deal we had cassettes. You couldn’t even dream about making a CD, you had to have money to do that. We’d make cassettes and the way of getting that out to a wider range of people than beyond your thirty friends was by getting a magical thing called a ‘record deal’. From there it was anybody’s guess what was going to happen. But getting that record deal was like lightning striking. Now you don’t need to have a record deal but you do need to be a internet sensation, but that’s like lightning striking too. So it’s sort of the same as it ever was but it’s different. It’s still impossible, but it’s always been impossible.

HHMM: Bob Geldof was recently talking about the lack of powerful voices in contemporary music and how society was worse off for the lack of those voices. He was suggesting that there was ‘entertainers’ and there was ‘artists’ and there were more entertainers and less artists. How do you see that division?

JA: I hear people sometimes say stuff like that and I think, ‘hang on a minute, I’m an artist, but you just don’t know who I am!’ Maybe it’s harder for legit artists to get out there than it was. Maybe we are just more underground now. Back in Bob Dylan’s time, well it still is Bob Dylan’s time, but back when he became like the biggest thing ever, it was just a time and a place. Who knows what it all means? I’m sure there are just as many talented people doing just as much great art now as ever, maybe more, but knowing who they are and hearing of them is another thing.

HHMM: You originally came from Ohio, but now you live in Brooklyn. Have you found that you’ve been able to be a part of a creative community and find like-minded individuals in New York, in a way you couldn’t have done at home?

JA: I think I could have maybe, but I was ready to leave Ohio. I left Ohio four days after I graduated high school. I needed to go explore the world. I love Akron, Ohio actually. I’ve very proud of it, I love going back there and I would even consider moving there again, but I needed to go explore the world. But now I find a real collaborative spirit when I go out to California, even more than New York. Maybe cos New York is my home and when I’m at home I tend to do my own thing more and isolate more. Maybe when you travel, life is more of a celebration in a way and so when I’m in California and I’m there for a month, maybe I look for people to work with. I don’t know if I look for it or open my energy up to it more, but every time I go out to California there is some wild collaborative thing that happens.

HHMM: Speaking of collaborations at Bluesfest you are going to be playing with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison in Fistful Of Mercy. How would you describe that collaboration? Is it democratic or organic or how does it work?

JA: It’s democratic, organic, collaborative thing that just sort of happened. It happened to happen. It’s actually what I’m saying about California. I was in san Francisco preparing to play two nights at the Troubadour in Los Angeles and I called Ben to see if he wanted to sit in with me and he was open to that. And then we decided to write some songs together and he said, ‘do you know Dhani Harrison?’ And I actually didn’t and I said “Why? Is he in our band?” So he introduced me to Dhani and then we were a band.

HHMM: It’s nice how it works like that sometimes.

JA: It’s unbelievable actually.

HHMM: In Melbourne and Sydney you are doing solo shows, which will be really exciting. What can we expect from those shows? Do you have the scope to do music and painting as you sometimes do?

JA: I don’t know if we are going to go for that or not. I kinda hope we do. I’m actually sitting on the floor building the ultimate pedal board. I’m actually a super guitar geek working on this pedal board for a while now. It’s like paints on my pallet basically. I’m going to do looping and stuff like that, so hopefully I’ll paint too.

HHMM: Interesting you mention the looping. I got to see Eddie Vedder last night in Melbourne doing a solo show and he was trying to do some live vocal looping, but the machine didn’t work for him. So it’s risky.

JA: It is risky. But that’s what makes it good. Without the risk things aren’t any good. People tend to like it when things go awry. It’s a bit of excitement.

HHMM: I want to mention someone else. I kind of feel like Jim Carroll was a kindred spirit to what you do, combining the music with another form. In his case it was poetry, in your case it’s painting. Is he someone you feel a connection with?

JA: Well I hope so. I mean, I take that as a complement. All I can say is that I respect him a lot.

HHMM: The other guy that comes to mind when I hear your music is another New York guy named Garland Jeffrey. Is he someone you are aware of?

JA: I know Garland, yeah. I actually met him through Lou Reed, cos he’s a friend of Lou’s. I actually met him and I know him as a person more than I know his music, just as a guy around New York. That is New York.

HHMM: And I understand you have a new record of your own on the way, called The Graduation Ceremony? Can you tell me about that?

JA: I’ve been working on this futuristic gospel concept record called The Ballad of Boogie Christ, which is about this guy who is either insane or becoming Jesus Christ. It’s this very wordy record with back up singers and horns and super production and Garth Hudson playing organ on it. I was working on it for about two years and then I wrote a couple of new songs on an acoustic guitar. I recorded one of them and I really liked the way it came out, it was so relieving to have something so simple. So I called up the studio and said do you have any time when I can come in and record some more acoustic songs. And he was like ‘yeah come by’ and I was like sat his front door. So I walked in the studio and cut the record in an afternoon with first and second takes. Then Jim Keltner came by to play drums on some of the Boogie Christ tracks and I played him some of the other songs and he played on a song and then we went through the whole record and he played on all the other songs. Then I gave the record to John Alasia and we ended up working in his studio in Santa Monica for about a month I guess and it became a beautiful record. At the same time I ended up finishing the Boogie Christ record, so I mastered both of them. So there’s two records waiting in the wings.

HHMM: It’s nice to have these journeys without a roadmap.

JA: That’s what its all about, its like let the unconscious guide you. I believe in that. I believe in the wisdom of the unconscious.


Wednesday 27 April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

Friday 29 April – The Vanguard, Sydney

Also Appearing at Bluesfest with Fistful of Mercy – Easter Friday 22


2011-03-26 - Drew's, Ringwood, NJ - USA

On Stage :

Solo concert

Setlist : 

out on a limb
temporary people
this is still my world
a smile that explodes
honey and the moon
i donated myself to the mexican army
birthday card
too much to hide
favorite girl
nuclear daydream
i miss the zoo
the real you
in the sun 

Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and available for download on JA's website


INTERVIEW : 2011-03-24 Upclose with Joseph Arthur (by Penny Zhou)

American folk rocker Joseph Arthur paints and writes poetry, but he’s most famous for singing soulful words about faith and life with simple but delicate melodies. Ahead of his Hong Kong gigs and art exhibition, the humble and friendly musician has a chat with Penny Zhou about Lou Reed, poetry and changes.

HK Magazine: You were discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-90s. How did that happen?
Joseph Arthur: Back then it was [all on]cassette. So I made my demo cassette, which I gave to a friend who gave it to a friend who gave it to someone who gave it to Peter Gabriel. Then he called me up and I got a record deal.

HK: Growing up in Akron, Ohio, were you raised by an artistic family?
JA: Not particularly. Neither of my parents are artists. But my sister is a painter, and my aunt paints, too.

HK: And you’re nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package Design for your 1999 EP, “Vacancy.”
JA: It’s a huge surprise for me that I got nominated. It was a little-known, limited-edition album, and the album cover was designed by an unknown artist. I have no idea how those Grammy people heard about us.

HK: Have you finished the new album?
JA: It’s just done. It’s called “The Graduation Ceremony,” and it is a very acoustic-based record. It’s about transformation, breaking up and survival.

HK: And how have you transformed through the years?
JA: I’ve grown. You’re a different person from what you used to be. Me, you, everybody—you can’t help it but things change, even though you don’t know how. I feel sane now… But, well, that may be the most insane thing one can say about himself.

HK: People always say your lyrics are “poetic.” Where does the poetry come from?
JA: It’s like a mysterious flow from the back of my head. It crawls out like a roach. I’m glad that people notice my lyrics.

HK: Would you consider publishing your poetry?
JA: Yeah, I’m actually in the middle of finishing a book of my poems.

HK: Are you an avid reader?
JA: Umm, you know, I should read more than I do. I have a very short attention span and I often get bored quickly. And the damn internet makes it worse. I still try to read, but it’s just getting harder and harder. Do you read? Do you think it’s getting harder?

HK: Hmm, yes to both questions.
JA: You’re probably smarter than I am. I never went to college…

HK: That’s not true. Between us, you’re the one who’s being interviewed right now as a famous musician. Was being an artist your childhood dream?
JA: Yeah. Somehow I knew from a very young that music and art were what I wanted to do. I never thought about having a normal lifestyle and I felt like I needed to go through special situations in order to survive. It’s pretty much based on survival. And there’s no way I can survive a typical schedule. My whole life turns out to revolve around traveling, and I love it because traveling helps you reinvent yourself and grow as a person.

HK: Biggest musical influences?
JA: I really like Lou Reed. The Velvet Underground is probably my favorite. Oh, and early hip-hop.

HK: Speaking of Lou Reed, he went to your gig before you even got signed.
JA: Yeah, it’s like a hundred million years ago... But it’s my first time coming to Hong Kong, so it may be worth a mention because I guess people don’t know anything about me here. I mean, why would they?

HK: So why Hong Kong?
JA: Most things in my life, they just kind of come up. I have a tendency to say yes to things. “Do you want to play in Hong Kong?” “Yes.” My friends are so jealous that I get to come here.


2011-03-01 - Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles

On Stage :

Solo concert

Setlist : 

you are free
a smile that explodes
out on a limb
love never asks you to lie
temporary people
this is still my world
i miss the zoo
eyes on my back
honey and the moon
can't exist
even when yer blue
when i was running out of time
slide away
black lexus
lack a vision
in the sun

Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and available for download on JA's website

Review :