Joseph Arthur…When was the first time I heard Joseph Arthur? I’m sitting here asking myself. Well, it’s funny because the first time I ever heard of Joseph Arthur, he actually was not present. I was watching Austin City Limits featuring Coldplay when they asked Michael Stipe onstage to sing a Joseph Arthur song, In The Sun. Little did I know at the time that the R.E.M. front man was in the works recording six different versions of In the Sun for a digital EP that would go to efforts to rebuild New Orleans neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. You can read more about it here.
Listening to this beautiful song, the lyrics, the music, tears running down my face–I had to find out more about this Joseph Arthur! Well, many albums, side projects, art shows, podcasts and tours later, I have come to adore and respect the work of this singer/songwriter/visual artist/poet …and the prolific rate at which he creates.
What has he done? you ask. The better question is What hasn’t he done? Joseph has released over 20 albums, ranging from solo records to collaborations with the likes of Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Ben Harper; RNDM with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Amet; Holding the Void with Wilco’s Pat Sansone; Twilight Singers with Afghan Whig’s Greg Dulli; and the Lonely Astronauts with Kraig Jarret Johnson of Golden Smog and the Jayhawks. And, not to mention, producing art and poetry books, owning an art gallery, and hosting a podcast called Nothing To Talk About.
But let’s start with his being discovered by Peter Gabriel alongside Lou Reed and come full circle to Arthur’s recent tribute album to his deceased friend and hero, entitled, Lou featuring Arthur’s interpretation of twelve Reed tracks. In a Rolling Stone article, Arthur says, “The only way I know how to give new life to something as rich with life as Lou’s songs and recordings is to go about them in a completely different way…It’s odd dancing around death, odder still if the death you are dancing around is that of a legend…There’s no blueprint. I loved Lou and we were friends…what better way to honor the man and his music than to celebrate it and sing it and record it?”
And speaking of coming full circle, Arthur returned to Real World Records, Peter Gabriel’s label, for his latest studio release, The Ballad of Boogie Christ, a trilogy which he describes in a Billboard article: “ ‘I like this idea of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’ He says of the 3 album cycle, conscious that at the center is a character he’s created called ‘Boogie Christ’-sometimes an alter-ego, sometimes a contemplation of deity, sometimes any-man.” But this theme is not new to Arthur who continually explores the chiaroscuro of life.
So what’s Arthur up to now? After a run of touring The Ballad of Boogie Christ joined by R.E.M. bassist, Mike Mills, he is currently opening solo for the reunited Afghan Whigs. And when I say solo I mean, yes, just Arthur, his distortion and looping pedals and a canvas. Have I piqued your interest? Well lucky for you, Arthur was gracious enough to sit down with Satellite Farm back in September at The Loft in Atlanta, GA for an amazing exclusive to talk about the Lou Reed tribute album and life as an artist. Now you are wondering, What’s he going to do next? That’s the big question. However, while we are pondering this, as it states on his art gallery, MOMAR’s website: “Arthur is on to the next project; ‘Andy Warhol’s approach to art is an ideal for me: make art, and while people are deciding whether they like it or not, make more art’.”
Check out the Satellite Farm Exclusive here:
Many thanks to Joseph Arthur, R.E.M. HQ, Michael Stipe, Peter Wark and Randy Frostig.
In the words of Joseph Arthur himself, “May God’s Love Be With You…”
We, at Satellite Farm, are huge fans of Sean Rowe and have been fortunate enough to witness him on several occasions…and the trail of dropped jaws he has left in his wake. Therefore, we are super excited about his new album, Madman, out on Anti, Inc. September 8th and drops September 9th at a record store near you.
For the Sean Rowe novice, how shall I describe his sound? It is difficult to put it in a box. Some may say his sound is folk-singer-songwriter but to disregard the mix of rock & roll, soul and blues elements-to name a few- that make up this irresistible strange brew would be criminal. Sean is currently featured in NPR’s First Listen, who writes about his sound: “at the core of every song is Rowe’s remarkable voice, which sounds inescapably melancholy, tremendously sexy and often slightly menacing.” Sean is also featured in an article by Anti, where they write about his new album: “Madman is deliberately, if not defiantly, simple in both arrangements and composition. It is soul music in the purest and most literal sense, hypnotic rhythms, warmly distorted guitars and ROWE’s incredible voice recalling a time, real or imagined, when music and people seemed distinctly more connected”
Speaking of which, Sean is hitting the road to promote his new album, touring venues around the country along with promoting a House Concert Tour. In fact, he is part of the PledgeMusic campaign, a site where fans and musicians come together to fund the costs that accumulate on the road and for promotion of new music. On Sean’s PledgeMusic page, he says: “The thing that hit me like a brick with this house show tour is how different it made me look at the relationship with my fans and how real it felt to leave the bullshit mentality of the musical mainstream.” One of PledgeMusic’s beliefs is giving back to local communities, and that is definitely something Satellite Farm is all about! By the way, Atlanta folks, Sean will be at the Red Clay Theatre opening for the one and only Amy Ray on September 19th so don’t miss it! Until then, check out these videos from Sean Rowe to get a taste of the new album:
Sean Rowe, Madman
Sean Rowe, Shine My Diamond Ring
There’s an old saying in rock and roll that you need to have ten to twelve great reasons (read: songs) to shove yourself and your band mates into a van and tour the country, hoping that at the end of it all you remain somewhat financially solvent–meaning that you’ve sold enough merch you at least break even and most importantly, that you still have the band intact. Cincinnati’s Wussy has well over ten to twelve great “reasons” to pile into a van for the most extensive tour they have done to date. In fact, they have five albums worth of material that are light years ahead of anything their contemporaries are putting out. Don’t believe me? How about reading what famed Village Voice rock critic, Robert Christgau, had to say about them. Christgau is a man of few words. His open “love letter” to the band is the length equivalent of War and Peace for him, where he writes of Wussy: “We’re talking Beatles-Stones consistency here. I love the music…” For Christgau to declare “love” for a band is no small feat. No doubt that Wussy is one of those bands whose sum of it parts is greater than the individuals who are in the band, they continuously create intelligent, well-written rock songs with hooks and melodies that you find creeping into your daily life, days and weeks after you’ve heard them.
Recently, I witnessed Wussy live and it is a site to behold. Wussy’s van pulled into Atlanta’s Red Light Cafe on August 2nd for the final show of their tour in support of their jaw dropping album “Attica”. It is doubtful Wussy will ever fill big arenas and that is truly sad because one thing Wussy does better than a thousand bands out there right now selling out places twenty times bigger than what this obscure band is accustomed to, is they fill every inch of a venue’s space with music. Music that rattles ceilings, music that hits you at every level, music that leaves you speechless, and music that has the ability to alter your Musical DNA if you allow yourself to take it in.
Witness it for yourself in this Satellite Farm Exclusive:
If you are among the ones who already know what Wussy is capable of, then nothing else needs to be said. If you are not, I can only hope they tour again in a city near you and that you go check them out live–and hey, invest in a little shcwag while you are at it! And if you want a first hand account of what it’s like to be a touring band on a day-to-day basis, I highly recommend reading Wussy bassist, Mark Messerly’s blog. It’s not all limousines, private jets, and assistants, and to be honest, I doubt Wussy is the type of band who holds those things dear.
Rather what one garners from Mark’s writing is the collective beating of five hearts + a dedicated tour manager. The five hearts that make up what is known as Wussy, a band whose members are about a decade and half older than most of what’s out there now and whose day jobs include teaching, stone masonary, construction work/bartending and waiting tables. However they are a band in the truest sense of the word. They create music first as fans and then as a “tribe.” And maybe that’s what is at the core of Wussy: a “tribe” mentality that believes so deeply in what they are doing that they will squeeze into a van and point it onto the highways of this country… Mark Messerly says it best, in our Satellite Farm exclusive interview: “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Ya know, go out and play shows and meet people and have adventures … It’s hard in a lot of ways but I can’t imagine someone putting this out on the table and, like, ‘yes or no?’ Saying ‘no’; I’ve yet to find the inclination to say ‘no’ to the adventure…”
Check out the full interview clip here: