Sunday, January 1, 2017

Joseph Arthur at City Winery

Joseph Arthur began writing and playing music in his early teens in Akron, Ohio, after inheriting an electronic keyboard from his aunt. At age 16, he played bass in a blues band called Frankie Starr & the Chill Factor. Days after his high school graduation in the early 1990s, Arthur relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, working by day as a guitar salesman, performing at night at local music clubs, and recording home demos whenever possible. Peter Gabriel heard Arthur's debut EP, signed Arthur to Gabriel's record company and released Arthur's debut album in 1997. Arthur led a band, the Lonely Astronauts, in 2006, and joined Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison in the trio Fistful of Mercy in 2010. None of these projects gained Arthur any significant commercial success. Arthur has since gone completely solo, accompanying himself in concert on guitar and piano and backing himself with looping techniques. Arthur released his 14th solo album, The Family, on June 3, 2016. He is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Joseph Arthur tonight performed his seventh annual New Year's Night gig at City Winery. Much like previous years, he performed as a one-man band, thanks to an array of foot pedals and other effects. Many of his songs were stripped down to just vocals and guitar or piano, but other compositions saw him looping vocals, guitar lines and guitar-slap percussion so that he could layer or harmonize with himself. The effect was fascinating, but only succeeded because his slurring vocals, poetic lyrics and fluid melodies were pleasingly solid. His set included covers of George Michael's "Freedom" and Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows," both of which Arthur pre-arranged and then played on his smart phone as he sang along. As usual, he also drew and painted a simple painting on a canvas while he sang a song. Joseph Arthur demonstrated his impressively imaginative and creative artistry with a multimedia palette.

Visit Joseph Arthur at