Joseph Arthur with Mike Mills & Bill Dubrow

Joseph Arthur with Mike Mills & Bill Dubrow

Mike Mills (REM) on bass & Bill Dobrow on Drums will be joining Joseph Arthur on this USA Boogie Christ tour!

For every song Joseph Arthur has released in a critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated career that has spanned nine full-length albums and 11 EPs, he's probably kept three others in the vault for safekeeping. Indeed, Arthur has been known to start working on a new album -- or two -- while simultaneously trying to finish another.

It was amid this abundance of riches that the Brooklyn-by way of Ohio-native began molding a collection of music under a single narrative thread: The Ballad of Boogie Christ, described by Arthur as "a fictionalized character loosely based on my own journey."

At first, it was a song here or there, or a set of lyrics with no accompanying music. Then, those songs would get recorded and set aside. They'd get re-recorded and revised. They'd start to make sense in relation to their brothers and sisters, and then they wouldn't. And pretty soon, more than half-a-decade had flown by and Boogie Christ was no closer to coherency.

"For some reason, I've been avoiding finishing this record for a long time," Arthur says with a laugh. "It's been an albatross around my neck. I don't know why, but it has."

Yet despite its labored birth, The Ballad of Boogie Christ -- Act 1 has defied the odds to become another essential cornerstone of Arthur's robust discography. Encompassing sessions put to tape in upstate New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Arthur's own Brooklyn studio, the 11-song album showcases the artist's signature rich storytelling set to a diverse range of rock'n'roll.

"I don't know that there's a beginning, middle and end to the story, but there are definitely experiences, situations and perspectives that point in those directions," says Arthur. "I wanted to let the listener fill in some of the blanks without telling the whole story in a straight-ahead way."

The album begins with the surprising orchestral pop of "Currency of Love," on which Arthur unveils a passionate croon unlike any vocal performance he's ever given. From there, Boogie Christ offers epic affirmations on overcoming addiction (the seven-minute closer "All the Old Heroes"), anthems of open-hearted solidarity ("Wait for Your Lights," "It's OK To Be Young/Gone") and the kinds of slow-burning narratives ("Famous Friends Along the Coast," "I Used To Know How to Walk on Water") that have won Arthur a legion of fans around the globe.

Songs like "Black Flowers," "I Used To Know How to Walk on Water" and the title cut were recorded several years ago with help from the Band's legendary keyboardist Garth Hudson and bassist Catherine Popper (Ryan Adams, Jack White), while newer additions to the track list such as "Currency of Love" and "Saint of Impossible Causes" were crafted in Los Angeles with assistance from Chris Seefried (Fitz & the Tantrums, Lana Del Rey). Among the other guests on Boogie Christ are Ben Harper (Arthur's bandmate in Fistful of Mercy), session drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner, Joan As Policewoman leader Joan Wasser and composer Paul Cantelon (Oliver Stone's W., Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell & the Butterfly).

"There are certain moments on the album that are just pop music and sugary," Arthur says. "I didn't want it to be this diatribe of heaviness, and it had been like that sometimes. I definitely wanted moments of relief within it, where you just get a good jam."

At the center of the project is the autobiographical "King of Cleveland," a classic story song that connects Boogie Christ the character with Arthur the flesh-and-blood artist. On it, the narrator apprentices alongside a big fish in a small pond, "playing blues in the back seats, from biker bars to limousines" -- much like Arthur did in his early professional career in Northeast Ohio. Says Arthur, "He's just starting to live the life he's imagined, playing roots boogie in the real America -- Ohio."
With plans still taking shape for future installments of Boogie Christ material, perhaps as earlier as the fall, Arthur is hoping the project will eventually take on a life of its own outside of the album context.

"I've heard David Bowie talk about how Ziggy Stardust and some other records were the beginnings of screenplays that he just never finished," he says. "I could really see this becoming something deeper and bigger than just an album.

"Chuck Prophet reminded me that there's always the Great American Novel," he continues. "And that really stuck in my head about Boogie Christ. That's what I've been wanting to achieve with this album. He encouraged me that it was okay to dream big."

On Dylan LeBlanc's debut album, Pauper's Field, a lost world is brought to life - both in the carefully sculpted songs and rich well of country soul from which those songs emerge. RoughTrade is excited to release Dylan's album on August 24 th , 2010.

Although the Golden era of Alabama's fabled Muscle Shoals sound had passed by the time Dylan was born in 1990, his ancestral roots and family background connected him to one of the most significant sources in the rich tapestry of American music. His father's position as a Muscle Shoals session player and songwriter meant that early in life Dylan was privy to the sights and sounds of an unvarnished, vanishing epoch and such legends as Spooner Oldham. "I grew up around a lot of the session players…when I was 11 or 12, I would watch and ask a lot of questions, so for me it was like going to music college," is how the tall, gentle voiced, lank haired Shreveport, Louisiana native remembers it. "It seemed like a much simpler world - it was romantic to me the way everyone sat in a circle and "took it from the top". They just played and hit the record button. That's the path I followed when I made this album."

Dylan expands…"for me music is about getting together with a group of people who feel like family - you create a bond, feeding off each other. Just a look or a hand gesture and they know what you're talking about." Dylan's progress was natural, organic - learning the ropes as a young sideman helped define his own worldview and artistry through his teens.

"My first hand influences are all interesting, but I've always been a loner when it comes to music. I had the opportunity to, and did my own thing and whoever wanted to join in was welcome to. I started picking on my 7th birthday when my dad bought me a guitar, and I started writing when I was 11 or 12." Although he dismisses his early songs as "not very good", Dylan's early learning served him well. The songs on this debut are beautifully nurtured, gently astonishing, stop you in your tracks reveries - gilded with strings, smokey organ lines, and keening pedal steel.

Despite his age, Dylan's worn yearning voice already has the mark of aged experience. Neither the feel nor sound of the album, nor the haunted ghost summoning songs he has written, can be faked. "If Time Was For Wasting" seems to be wrenched from the heart of ever-present currents in Deep South life - where the pull of the past is unavoidable. "Admittedly I was drinking a good bit myself, and when I wrote the song I was thinking about an arrogant ignorant man and the woman he was with. It has a lot to do with the culture around here. I pictured a man walking into a room where he lives with an angry wife."

Heritage springs up everywhere on Paupers Field. Ghosts and demons emerge from the mist in compositions featuring archetypal characters such as "Emma Hartley" and "The Outlaw Billy John".

Like much great art, Dylan's work is often rooted in pain and anxiety. "Eccentricity runs in my family, and all the men seem to die very young and all the women live to be very old." His great great-great Grandfather shot a notorious local bandit, and was in turn slain in an ambush. This killing took place in Palestine, Texas in the early 1900s - a time and place which fits right in with the album's sepia mood. "There were concerns when I was growing up about how things might turn out, says Dylan carefully. "I wrote music because it made me feel better. I used to get these feelings that would come over me so strong; I felt I was sinking into darkness, like staring out of a large hole in the ground. It scared me and I struggled daily trying to be content in life. In a lot of ways I still do."

His songs - ominously dark yet tenderly appraising emotions to find light and balm - don't just open up a world and his personal feelings and experience, they provide their creator with a valuable lifeline. "It helps me…I'd be a lot darker if I didn't write and it's almost like playing God writing a song." It's a telling comment from the usually modest and soft-spoken LeBlanc. He is not the sort of performer to shout about his arrival or proclaim his talent from the rooftops. Nonetheless, the seamlessly organic and self- produced Pauper's Field presents a fully formed total artist and this record speaks for itself. LeBlanc's is a voice from the present connected to the past, one sure to outlast passing trends and fads. Soul deep.

"Its funny I never thought anyone would take an interest in what I do, so I had the freedom to sound natural with folks I know and love and trust. Everything was basically recorded live, so when we play it live, it's about trying to give people a little of that same feeling. We mean what we say and do what we feel. I think we did that very well on this record."

Ain't that the truth.

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Joseph Arthur with Mike Mills & Bill Dubrow with Dylan LeBlanc

Friday, December 13 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Zanzabar

Tickets Available at the Door