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


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.


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.


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}

PART 2 of the Portal of Fun aka | Jamie Hewlett’s Suggestionists Exhibition Reception at The Woodward Gallery NYC June 11, 2016

Pt 2: Tarot

{you can read Pt 1 here}


Before I take you further into the exhibition, I want to give you a little background about what tarot cards mean to my sister and I, who grew up alongside a deck of them. They were our mother’s, and they were soft and well worn. She had a knack for reading them, and her reputation among her friends was that, more often than not, she made accurate predictions while reading the cards. She never read for money, and she never read for strangers. It was a hobby that was rooted in the spiritual and the psychological, and one that caused my sister and I to do some serious deep thinking while growing up. We also learned the ins and outs of every card and the universal symbolism and meanings of each. My favorite was always the Sun.

But all of this begged questions. What was this ability? Was it real? Lucky guesses? What power do the cards have? Do they have any at all? Was it our mom who had an ability, and not the cards? Was she just really good at being in to touch with people? We learned to accept that we would never know the answer to any of these questions, and that was part of the mystique (though, in tune with people? We know the answer to that is a huge YES). Our mom no longer reads tarot cards anymore (though she still has that same deck), but that aspect of growing up had its fair share in developing inquisitive minds for my sister and I. (I should add, I used to try to read the cards, but almost always failed, getting caught up in the literal too much, perhaps. My sister on the other hand seemed to have shared the tarot gene our mom has). It is through this lens of experience that Ady and I moved forward into the gallery to view Jamie Hewlett’s vision of these iconic images. We had already had a chance to investigate L’ Empereur, La Rove du Fortune, Le Maison Dieu, and the unnamed card XIII up close earlier in the day outside Ghost, where the four hung, harbingers of the remaining 18 cards, and couldn’t wait to see the rest.

We poured over them, each one of the Major Arcana as envisioned through the artistic lens of Jamie Hewlett—silly and sinister, thought provoking, demented and giggle inducing, all at once. Ady and I split up and wandered so that we could, at our own pace, investigate the tarot cards, each one paired with a written interpretation in Jamie’s own words, which were every bit a piece of art in their own right. In fact, I enjoyed reading them just as much as I did viewing them. {And fear not, if you weren’t able to make the exhibit, you can happily view all of them up close here via Jamie Hewlett’s The Suggestionists online}

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With a buzz of excitement, as we and countless other fans reveled in the exhibit, Jamie finally arrived, and drifted about freely, spending time talking to his visitors. But eventually the crowd grew so dense that a queue necessarily formed to give everyone a chance to say hello.

While this was happening, we continued to finish looking at the cards and I found it interesting that Ady and I were both most drawn to the same image, La Force (aka Strength)—in part because of the gorgeous illustration of a white-gowned woman in a funky hat (I want one like that!) fearlessly leading an insane looking lion like it is nothing more intimidating than a docile lap dog—but also because of its corresponding interpretive description.

Le Soleil once again was one that I was particularly drawn to, though each card was full of beauty and meaning. Together all 22 cards that adorned the walls of the gallery made for a festive backdrop in which fans of Jamie’s and of Gorillaz were able browse with the artist at close hand.

Before we were able to finally get our chance to say hello, about an hour into the reception there was some stirring and word got round that Damon Albarn would be arriving imminently. Ady stayed in line and I went over to investigate. Sure enough, a few moments later, with a warm greeting by some of his friends and musical cohorts gathered at the front of the gallery, Damon walked in, and suddenly the two geniuses behind Gorillaz, possessors of relentless talent, were there united together celebrating Jamie’s art.



I got back in line with Ady and this is how it went. The line we were in to speak to Jamie was split in two for a brief moment amidst the chaos of the excitement, and then finally the two joined up to meet with fans together. During this time while waiting, Ady made the acquaintance of a talented local artist, Kid Lew, who we chatted with about the exhibit and Gorillaz. We offered to take one another’s photos when the time came. By the time they reached us in line, Jamie went for a much needed break, which left us to chat with Damon Albarn.

Regular readers of Sisters Dissonance and friends and family will know what this means to me. I really wasn’t sure what I would do or say to make a fool of myself (card 0, Le Mat, anyone?), or if I would faint (I didn’t!) if this day ever came. Instead, somehow it managed to turn out to be one of the best comedic moments I could have ever hoped to share in meeting one of my heroes (which did not happen when I was reduced to a babbling idiot when I met Mick Jones).

It was pushing 90 degrees in NYC, and while the gallery was well air conditioned, the amount of bodies and the extreme humidity combined to raise the temperature inside. When Damon reached Ady and I, he spun around to grab a water from the reception table, confiding in us that he was extremely overheated. Ady instinctively started fanning him with her exhibit postcard, and since it provided relief, he grabbed the card so he could keep cooling himself. Ady, being Ady, playfully grabbed it back and we offered to fan him while he signed, and I joined in doing the same. We proceeded to fan him on both sides and as we talked he signed our Blur NYC tickets from last October (click here for an insane moment via Instagram that Ady caught of “Trimm Trabb” during that show!) that thankfully never made it back out of my wallet.

As we fanned more and more dramatically, as the poetic moment dawned on me, I jokingly exclaimed to him, “I am literally your fan!” seizing the opportunity to make a pun while also finally finding the right words to express what I had wanted to be able to express to him without sounding like a giant dork. To this he stopped short what he was doing, turned to look at me with a huge Damon-toothy grin and repeated bemusedly, “You literally are my fan!” then, further encouraging the silliness asked Ady and I, “…can we do the photo like that? Keep doing the fan thing.” Kid Lew was thankfully snapping away for us during this entire exchange, resulting in this:


Jamie by this time returned and resumed his position in line, noting that it was the second time we got bumped from talking to him, but the gallery owner needed to move the line to a different location (it continued to grow as time went on) so she kindly grabbed Ady and I and led us, as she was leading Jamie to a new spot.

Finally! It was our turn. Our conversation with Jamie Hewlett was every bit as fun as the last time we crossed paths with him after the Gorillaz Live on Letterman performance back in October of 2010. As before, he was extremely approachable, witty, and the silliness that bleeds through his artwork is no doubt a genuine reflection of the artist.

Ady and I had talked about how much we both enjoyed reading the written portion of the Tarot exhibit as much as we did viewing the artwork, and we told him this. He seemed very pleased that we had taken notice, saying in all sincerity, “Did you like them? I wrote those,”—as if it were possible that we might not have recognized who the brilliant mind behind them could be!

As a fun side note, while I am sure he probably did not recall meeting us before, I mentioned what he had done to us behind our backs when we had our photo taken with him in 2010 {chronicled here in a prior post, Gorillaz Live On Letterman Odyssey, where we believe we can trace the existence of that thing called the Portal of Fun).


Shan, Jamie, Ady in 2010

so this is what we ended up with this time.


It was now Kid Lew’s turn to meet the master and Ady took photos while he did, including this photo of his sketchbook which was graced by both Jamie and Damon.


As the evening wound down and it approached closing time, we stopped went around the corner of the gallery into the final segment of the exhibit, Honey, a series of saucy faux vintage 70’s style back lit posters for imaginary soft core films, complete with fake titles (Honey puns!) and credits.

It was truly amazing to spend an evening stepping into the mind of Jamie Hewlett and celebrating his artwork.



At this point, our story continues when our master of fun, Ady, checked her watch and said, it’s 7:40. Without discussion we hightailed outside and into another portal of fun (a taxi cab this time). Within 20 minutes we found ourselves in an entirely different world at an outdoor music festival, heat still pounding and a threat of rain looming in the air. Conor Oberst was on stage with The Felice Brothers at the Northside Festival and we somehow managed to catch the last two songs.


They left the stage and we wandered for a moment, then decided to explore Brooklyn on foot. If the night was not already jam-packed with excitement and a flurry of getting to meet heroes, as we walked outside the festival gates and around the corner, we walked smack into Conor Oberst. I offered to take a photo of Ady with him, and she said to him just as I was about to take the photo, “We missed your set!” To which he replied, “Aw, shit!” Then I snapped.



JHSuggestionists043Thank you Woodward Gallery for a wonderful evening and bringing the Suggestionists exhibition to New York City so we could enjoy it and thank you Jamie Hewlett for sharing your talent and creativity with the world. You have a rabid, loyal following and I know we are all waiting eagerly for what is yet to come as we watch hints of Gorillaz 2017 burbling to the surface!


{Click here to view full-size images from this post via slideshow}