Josh Joplin performs his original lyrics and music in the premiere production of Franco D'Alessandro's WORLDS COLLIDE… at the bottom of a glass.
Josh Joplin was raised in small time America - Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the setting in fact, of "Dutch Wonderland." Growing up, his musical tastes were fittingly eclectic; D.C. hardcore and Peter Seeger. But Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' and Joplin's exposure to Phil Ochs focused him, "I'd never heard such energy in a song," he says of the night when he was 12 years old that he first heard their music. While retaining his allegiance to the rebel spirit of bands like Minor Threat, the Smiths and the Clash, he found another kind of rebellion that was just as powerful. At 16, he quit school and headed out on the road, an adventure that took him deeper into the music. He passed through Hibbing, Minnesota, Dylan's boyhood home, ventured to El Paso, the birthplace of Phil Ochs, communed for a while with the ghost of Woody Guthrie in Okemah, Oklahoma. Always, he wrote, sang and performed. "I was becoming a hardcore folk singer, it was the incredible optimism of the music that drew me in." After a time washing dishes in New York City and staying at a friend's apartment, Josh packed his bags and headed South, only to find that, folk music of the classic Village Vanguard variety wasn't happening in Dixie, either. What was happening, however, was a singer-songwriter boom. Joplin emerged as a different kind of songwriter: "I started writing songs I really wanted to write, rather than ones I thought my heroes might have written," he says, "I write about belief and the struggle for it-belief in the struggle to ascend and transcend… I write about what I aspire to--and the person I want to become, that's who I'm writing for."
Useful Music is available on Artemis Records and is in records stores now (or visit: www.joshjoplin.com).
Franco on Josh:
My friendship with Josh Joplin, and the magic that allowed it to blossom, is something that does not happen much anymore these days, I'm afraid. I lost my friend Kevin Cleary on September 11th, 2001 and naturally took refuge in music. It was the week before that, when I first heard Josh's song: "I've Changed", and I was completely blown away by the power of both lyrics and voice. I bought my copy of Useful Music on September 10th. During the devastating weeks that ensued I was helped by the soul of the music and its creator. The story from there is simple: I was so moved by this person, I decided to write him a letter. Well, that letter has lead to collaboration on the production of my three one acts entitled WOLRDS COLLIDE, where Josh performs live (I was just hoping for permission to use the CD!) I believe in magic and to that end I believe Kevin, who so loved music passionately, sent Josh into my life. An extraordinary talent as a singer/songwriter, Josh Joplin is someone I honored to know as both a fellow artist and now, my friend.