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CD REVIEW: Joe Rathburn, Live @ the Dark Thirty
By Brett Thompson - 11/02/2005 - 12:06 PM EST

Artist: Joe Rathburn
Album: Live @ the Dark Thirty
CD Review: It’s easy to become disillusioned with today’s music landscape if you leave your mass produced shades on and forget to turn around to look at the view loitering behind you. You stare blankly as television broadcasters sell bottled pop to thirsty advertisers while inflated egos rhapsody about guns, gangs and guilty pleasures, flaunting their millions before disappearing one maybe two albums later.

Having said this, I commend Joe Rathburn for existing in that fine piece of real estate occupied by the independent artist who’s stayed true to his craft. As the masses flock to stadiums to sing their fleeting hero’s anthems, Joe becomes a reminder that a trip to your local meal and music hall is just as rewarding. And not to say Joe hasn’t been heard by as many ears as those stadium-fillers either – he has been perfecting his sound for over thirty-three years now.

This recording is proof of that dedication.

Here’s an artist whose music is nothing more than a celebration of, well, music. Joe’s a performer who takes what’s inside his head, not his producers, and shares a little bit of it with his audience. His tunes are well-rehearsed fun; his fellow band mates obviously enjoy the adrenalin of performing live, evident in a sound that’s both structured and spontaneous, simultaneously – almost as if you are listening through a half open window, to a musician performing in the room next door. Next door in this instance is the Dark Thirty and it sounds like it’s a riot of a venue to spend the evening at.

This album really embraces the ‘live’ medium. The guitars produce clean, crisp, energetic melodies while the percussion sits weightless, setting the pace but not stealing the show. I found the bongos particularly inviting to the ear when used in duel with the acoustic guitar.

Admittedly Joe’s music is more suited to the tastes of generation X than generation Y, but don’t let this be a deterrent. If you wish to be entertained the old fashioned way, not seduced by cleverly disguised marketing, give Joe Rathburn a listen, the landscape will consume you.

To find out where you can get your hands on one of Joe’s albums, or perhaps see where he’ll next be performing live, visit

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