Joseph Arthur City Winery NYC 1-1-17

ja2Happy New Year friends, can you believe it? 2017! I say this with a big sigh. I’m not sure if this is a sigh of relief or a sigh of trepidation. I guess only time will tell. Sometimes when I feel like this I take certain precautions like self-care steps, and these precautions that keep/restore my sanity always lie in music, art, and adventure. I got all three yesterday 1-1-17.(Hey, that’s the first time I wrote the date and it looks weird and makes me feel old.)

My New Year’s Day adventure sent me to the City Winery in NYC to see Joseph Arthur—  yes again! To see the full photo set from the show click here. I’ve been fortunate enough since November ’16 to catch him three times live. This is my remedy, you know for my sanity like I said: art, music and adventure. As my break quickly wraps up and the real world is catching up to me I can say I ended it with some lightness, some fun, creativity and photography.

So, Sunday’s show was sort of like a wedding with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. I went online and found the set list, it’s floating out there, but I’ll save you the trouble and you can just link here. You can see which fall into the categories, old, new, borrowed, and blue (which was the color of his shirt) .

The borrowed portion of the show was a cover of George Michael’s Freedom take a listen here  (just now creating this hyperlink for George made me sad again. RIP George Michael). The track was laid down on his phone but he didn’t say which app he uses  (getting hip like the kids nonetheless). I had a very visceral reaction to the Freedom cover, I’m sure others did too. I was a child product of the 80’s and I loved Wham and GM but I don’t think at my age  back then when Freedom was released that I actually grasped its poignancy. When Joseph sang it last night I listened, every lyric and to every bit of the intention in his delivery just absorbing it. Not to mention I think this cover officially gave him the #badass.  I think in its original form as a pop song (and my age) I missed the depth, and to hear it like this I finally got it. It hit me. And I’m being careful not to talk too much about the new president-elect, but I worry about things as simple as the title of the song, the things that should be simple for us all like Freedom.  Fair to say last night was strangely emotional for me kinda like a hybrid of feelings that come up the way church used to be when I was young or how my yoga mat is for me now as an adult. Just a deep feeling of contemplation and emotional space you can get once in a while.  And it wasn’t just this moment during the show but there were others too.ja3

I’ve mentioned it before, but me and the other half of Sis Diss, my sister Shan are Northeast Ohio byproducts and listening to Joe play songs from The Family feel so much like home, so much like the rust belt we grew up in, all the good and the bad all rolled up in a ball of yarn you can’t quite find the beginning or end to. It feels all so familiar and sitting with these songs as he plays them from the piano on stage just after holiday brought me even deeper into the head space I was in.

I think my conclusion from last night was that it’s not about resolutions, it’s not about getting better or being better it’s just about being. It’s enough. I think jokingly he even mentioned on stage the quote about something being the journey and not the destination. That may have been about his  Leonard Cohen cover of Everybody Knows.

One of my dear friends said to me the other day, “it’s not about knowing what’s next it’s just about asking the question of what is next”. I think the New Year’s Day show for me was about revelations and not resolutions and just thinking about what is next for me in many ways.

Not every show I step into will make me feel this way. I think for me it is when a show is done in the moment, and JA does this well with the feel of being free of ego, or as free of ego as you can get. He’s pretty much an open book up there, this is the part of his showmanship that the audience can connect with. I have some mad respect for a man who can just be in the Flow which takes skills to do. (For those interested in what the Flow is there’s actually some scientific evidence for the idea of the “Flow” you can read about here on your own. (I won’t get into it here in this post since it’s too similar to my work-work, but it is fascinating). My best example of this was midway through painting on his canvas with bubble gum pink paints, Joe just stops glances down and decides in that moment to paint a perfect pink heart on his tee-shirt. It was like this uninterrupted flow of feeling, thought, idea and action that just all came out at once. There wasn’t this process of “hey I want to paint a heart, should I paint a heart?, would a heart be cool?, will the heart be a good idea?, does the audience want to see me paint a heart?…”… That’s flow folks. And modern research says in order to be our happiest we need this trait and I admire him for having it, it’s what keeps me coming back and buying my tickets.

So for 2017 can we all just paint some metaphorical pink hearts. Don’t stop and think too much, get into the flow of the good things life has to offer us. We’ve got some negative forces opposing us for the time being. I’m not quite sure 2017 will make America great again, but I do believe in the power of jaollove, art, music and kindness. I think that is where I will put my focus this year. 

Happy 2017 Joe. Thank you for sharing pieces of your musical and creative world with us.

Peace and pink hearts

~Ady

New Music Alert | Africa Express Presents: The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests Live Release

New live album release today (now streaming and available via Google play) December 9th, 2016

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests
Transgressive Records

untitled-1

Sisters Dissonance, as you may or may not already know, first became a thing almost 10 years ago when Ady and I combined our travels to see live music performances with our desire to document those experiences and the adventures that occurred along the way. Our driving force is and always has been to make our own fun together.

A beautiful and somewhat unexpected natural byproduct of this thing called Sis Diss, we discovered, has been the human factor. It is the connections we continue to make with people all over the world in the process of our endeavor–the artists and musicians, the fellow fans and music heads, and all of the other people whose orbits have crossed paths with ours one way or another–that is the most rewarding part of Sis Diss of all.

And so, in a world that alarmingly feels like it is becoming more and more closed, increasingly divided and in turmoil, Ady and I strive to find our place among another reality that exists. This is a reality populated with a contingent of human beings around the globe that are steadfast in countering negativity, prejudice and division by purposefully reaching out, by bringing others together, and by working toward breaking down barriers not creating new ones. A reality filled with those who are mindful of their fellow humans. Often music and art is at the center of these efforts. This is the world we at Sis Diss seek to dwell in.

It is this mindset that brings to mind a show we saw last summer, The Orchestra Of Syrian Musicians in London England. No, I was not there in person, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, through a live broadcast on YouTube, I was able to watch virtually with my sister in Philly and my friend Gina in Minneapolis, from my own living room in Cleveland as together we live tweeted and texted during throughout show. We felt part of it. London/Cleveland/Philly/Minneapolis joined in along with the thousands of others across the globe tuned in together, interacting with the folks at Africa Express themselves, who made it feel like a global party. We were there for another beautiful coming together – something that Africa Express has a knack for doing on a grand scale, this time through the collaboration of Syrian musicians and countless others who joined them.

Flash forward to three days ago when I received a message from Africa Express to say that I had won an album from Benin artists Poly-Rhythmo in yet another effort by Africa Express to connect the world through music and spread it to the world. Thrilled to bits to be a recipient, as a rabid fan of music from all over the world thanks to the introduction by a professor in a ethnomusicology class I took in college back in the early 90’s, I anxiously await expanding my musical horizons even more, and I thank Africa Express for the opportunity! I will share my thoughts on that album soon to continue the spiral of positive energy.

This brings me full circle to today, and the point of this post . . . to  continue the reciprocity and join in spreading the musical love as Africa Express celebrate the release day of the resulting album of the The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests.

Following a series of acclaimed dates in the UK and Europe this summer, Africa Express today announces the release of a live album entitled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests. The recordings were made in June when The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, featuring current and former members of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, came together for the first time since the conflict in their country flared up five years ago. They were joined by artists from Britain, Syria, Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States including Bashy, Bassekou Kouyaté, Bu Kolthoum, Damon Albarn, Eslam Jawaad, Faia Younan, Julia Holter, Malikah, Mounir Troudi, Noura Mint Seymali, Paul Weller, Rachid Taha and Seckou Keita.  

 

Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests will be available on CD, with a digital download/stream available via Google Play Music beginning today. An LP vinyl edition will follow in 2017.

Full tracklisting here:

1          Intro  – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

2          3azely – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

3          Wild Wood – Paul Weller & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

4          Yah Mahla El Fus’ha – Faia Younan & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

5          Out Of Time – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

6          Rakeb 3al Hamra – Mounir Troudi & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

7          Feel You – Julia Holter & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

8          Al Ajaleh – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Bassekou Kouyaté & Seckou Keita

9          Blackbird – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Damon Albarn & Paul Weller

10        Old Damascus – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

11        Richa  – Noura Mint Seymali & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

12        White Flag – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Eslam Jawaad, Malikah, Ceza & Bu Kolthoum

13        Ya Rayeh – Rachid Taha & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

14        Oghneyat Men Baladi – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

For more information visit www.africaexpress.co.uk and   www.transgressiverecords.com

https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=Bgn3ryyqz6tx474rjf4tvmwsnym

The full concert from the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre London from June 25, 2016 can be viewed here:

 

 

 

Joseph Arthur from Philly 11-19-16 to Akron 11-23-16

Joseph Arthur played the Tin Angel on 11-19-16 and it was timely for me. I haven’t been to a show in awhile and the in the midst of this post election crisis/haze/mess I really had no idea how badly I needed to get out. And doubly, how badly I needed it to be one of his shows.

img_0924

Photo Credit: Shan

For the 11 days after the election I kept to myself, limiting my time in public mainly for not knowing where to find my people. I knew that going to the show would be good for me so I grabbed a ticket and made a plan to do something I knew I would enjoy. Being there was cathartic and it was necessary because it somewhat got me out of the post-election slump. (See why…check out The Campaign Song live from Tin Angel here.)

The Tin Angel show was the first show on his tour that I had been able to see since the June 3rd release of The Family. And by the way, the album is phenomenal if you haven’t heard it yet. You can find the info here. Several of the tracks have quickly taken to my favorites list like You Keep Hanging on, which has been running in my head on and off for days.

These two shows: Philly and Akron were both a beautiful combination of musical genius, showmanship and edginess that somehow he pulls off with a comedic twist. His personality can’t help but shine through whenever/wherever he plays. I know I’ve said it before, but I suspect this is because he so genuinely speaks his truth which is something I respect.

So, we fast forward a few days to my trip home for Thanksgiving. Home…Ohio… for both Joe and Sis Diss. For four consecutive years now Shan and I made it to the Thanksgiving Eve show at The Tangier in Akron, Ohio (click here to find some of our previous posts). Of course the show was every bit entertaining as the one I had gone to just days before. It does feel different to see a home show than it does to see a Philly show or a NYC show. And trust me when I say I’ve seen him play in all these places so many times I’ve lost my count! But, I think being “home” brings out different qualities in us all, and I don’t think there is an exception to this rule even for rock stars. So it is always fun to be able to share in the hometown experience.

I wondered what it would be like seeing him play shows a few days apart. Would it be the same? Would the set list vary?  How would it be different? But of course his chameleon-like ability to change up any song arrangement making you feel like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard it made the two shows feel like completely separate spaces in time for me.

img_0925

Photo Credit: Shan

As a side note can I just say that when I was searching for the Philly set list I came across a youtube video from a Milwaukee show in September where he covers Prince’s When Doves Cry. I would have loved to have seen that one live for myself-wow. His vocal range has always been perplexing to me. Just when you think he can’t get any higher he can, or any lower he does, and with pitch perfect accuracy. Truly a gift. Add his live painting on stage to his musical talent and he never ceases to blow my mind. I can sincerely say that each time I leave one of his shows I always walk out with a sense of admiration.

But can I just share a quick regret coupled with an apology for the iPhone photos (in spite of the missing camera somehow Shan managed to finesse an iPhone camera in ways I can’t-thank you for that Shan). I didn’t have my “real” camera with me at either show this past month sigh. Maybe January 1 in NYC I’ll get to fix that at the City Winery show. I just might be there with my camera and some hope for 2017.

~Ady O

{click the links here and here and here if you want to go on a past JA show photo treasure hunt}