A blog for Joe Henry fans

woensdag 8 februari 2017

Salute to Loretta Lynn

The Americana Music Association will bring a Salute to Loretta Lynn on sat. Feb. 11th In West Hollywood.

Joe Henry is 1 of the confirmed acts.

source and more info

Tickets go on sale on Febr. 10th at this site. .

Update l3 Februari 2017 : Joe Played 'The Whispering Sea' (source)

JH on this event : (From the LA Times)

“I am honored beyond measure to be invited to participate; as she occupies a singular place in the hearts of those of us who strive to be singular as songwriters, while also staying joined to the root system of American folk tradition."

“Loretta emerged with a do-it-yourself ethos that anticipated the emancipation of the songwriter in the ‘60s and beyond --deftly writing her own material when few of her contemporaries tended to, and owning a sharp and very personal point of view"

“When you heard her, you couldn’t miss that she was mining her own life for the stories her songs amplified; and they were as cunning and brazen as they were charming and seductive; as funny as they were heartbreaking,” he continued. “She was elegant and soulful, yet invariably as folksy as the hollow from which she sprang.”
“It’s no small thing that she still stands here in our midst: reverent of her times, yet clearly open to all else they might invite going forward,”

maandag 6 februari 2017

New Lizz Wright album for end of the Summer

Italian Site Baritoday anounces that Lizz Wright her upcoming album, produced by Joe, will be released at the end of the summer.

"Nel Gioco del Jazz", la cantante americana Lizz Wright in concerto al Teatro Palazzo 12 febbraio 2017
Al suo ritorno da un tour europeo nel novembre 2016, Lizz Wright è tornata in studio di registrazione con il produttore americano Joe Henry per il suo ultimo album la cui uscita è prevista per la fine dell'estate 2017.

After returning from her European Tour in November 2016, Lizz Wright returned to the recordingstudio together with producer Joe Henry for her new album, planned to be released at the end of the summer 2017. 

Potrebbe interessarti: http://www.baritoday.it/eventi/cantante-americana-lizz-wright-teatro-palazzo-bari-12-febbraio-2017.html
Seguici su Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BariToday/211622545530190

vrijdag 3 februari 2017

Lizz Wright : Some pictures from the recording session

As told last year, Joe Henry is producing Lizz Wright's new album. I came across some pictures in the studio, dated 7 Weeks ago. You can find them on @ceebrew's Instagram.

Besides them there was also Jay Bellerose, David Piltch, Ryan Freeland, Kenny Banks, Marvin Sewell,  

Ryan Freeland shines his light !

March 2016, Joe Henry and Billy Bragg boarded the train from Chicago to L.A. and recorded the album, “shine a light, Field recordings from the great American railroad”. They brought us wonderful versions of this true Musical Heritage. But they were not alone on the train. Amongst them, for example, was also Ryan Freeland who recorded the music. You can see him sitting somewhere in the back in the videoclips that were made to promote the album. Ryan is Joe’s longtime collaborator in the recording studio. Without Ryan Freeland, even more so for this album, we would not be able to hear these recordings the way we can hear them today at home. I asked him, if he would like to bring us his story from that trainride, and he generously accepted...


I was thrilled to be asked to work with Billy Bragg again and, as always, honored to work with my friend Joe Henry.
It was also an interesting challenge to think of a way to bring my love of recording onto a train. I needed to find a way to capture the feel of the train stations, platforms, and compartments while keeping the performances sonically engaging. 

Making a record on a train is completely different than doing it in a studio. They asked Ryan over a month in advance. So now he could start and figure out a way to do it…. 

When I was in high school at Interlochen Arts Academy I recorded a lot of the musician’s college audition tapes. Back then I had a Yamaha cassette four track which I purchased with the help of my folks and money I made from mowing lawns.
I also have always been fascinated with the Lomax field recordings and the fact that he had figured out a way to get a rig that fitted in a car and ran off the car battery. So I was familiar with those recordings and techniques and was intrigued by the idea of doing my modern twist on the idea of field recording. 

The whole rig needed to fit into a case that conformed to airline checked baggage limitations. I had a second case the same size with the custom Latch Lake mic stand they built for me, as well as some cables. That bag was tricky trying to stay under the 50-pound airline weight restrictions. 

I had traveled to New Orleans with a much bigger rig for recording at Alan Toussaint’s house about a year before he died. That rig was very heavy and resulted in about $250 of extra airline checked baggage fees. After that experience I swore I’d try and do my best to keep things within the airline restrictions.
So I tried to keep everything as simple and streamlined as possible so I could get to the spot and be up and running in just over a minute. You can’t believe how long that minute seemed when everyone is looking at you and waiting for you to indicate that you were recording. A simpler rig would have made things much easier on me but I really had this 4 mic idea and wanted to see if I could pull it off given all the space and time restraints. It was a really interesting set of variables and I was really happy with how it turned out.

Now, the hardest part was figuring out how to record 4 phantom powered ribbon microphones on a laptop all completely powered from batteries. I had recently watched some YouTube clips on the AEA Nuvo series mics and was very impressed. I immediately thought they would be perfect for this project because of their natural musical soundscape, their robustness, and their solid windscreens.
I did a lot of experimenting because of all of the variables and the intense time constraints once we jumped off the train to start recording before they called “all aboard”. Days before we started the trip I went over to Joe’s house with the whole rig and did some test recording... I tested everything at my studio,... at the hotel room the morning we were heading out on the train... And even with all of that : There were problems as soon I tried firing the rig up for the first time once I set it up in the first train station. I had just tested it 30 minutes before !!
I finally got it working but my stress level was an all time high. And then I looked at that beautiful building and heard Billy & Joe singing in my headphones on that first day at Union Station in Chicago. Looking back now, it’s my most wonderful memory from that trip.

videoclip 'Hobo's Lullaby'
 This was a great project to be part of. The most important thing for me was the feeling of comradery I experienced. There’s nothing like being a part of something great and being allowed and trusted to bring the best of yourself to the group.

And so the journey began, … Was it pure concentration and focus, or was he able to enjoy everything he was experiencing ?

There were plenty of times I would look around at the beautiful places we were, listening to two amazing musicians singing great songs and thinking about how lucky I was. 
We could all only listen on headphones one at a time. This made it such a personal and intimate experience. Anytime I looked over to Joe or Billy when they were listening to playbacks back on the train, they would always give me a thumbs up so I knew they were happy.
But most of the time I lived in shear terror that the recording equipment would fail or that the train would leave before I could get my mics packed and back aboard. At one point I almost got run over by a luggage cart, which is not something that usually happens on recording sessions.

You know, The thing that made me most aware of how special it was? It was when we got off the train in Austin at the end of the first leg of the trip. We had been this insular group of people living, sleeping, eating, and recording in this very unique way. Once we got off the train, knowing that we would not be getting back on until the next leg started, it was a very odd experience.
I remember being out to dinner that night with a bunch of other people and feeling weird. Once we got back on the train with just us I felt good again. I wasn’t ready to go back to the world outside of the train. I knew then, that it would be a life changing experience. I was doing something I really cared about with people I really cared about.

Promovideo 'shine a light'

Billy and Joe are both monster songwriters and encyclopedias of music over the decades. They live and breath that stuff every day, I live and breath microphones and compressors.

It is indeed a very special project. I stopped calling it the album or tour, because I felt it had grown to something more important. I went to see Billy and Joe’s show in Portsmouth where that became clear to me. I wondered if Ryan felt the same way, if the scale of it all was already in the air during the recordings. Where they aware of the power of these songs ?

I agree. Music has a lot of power! Joe and Billy are great spokespeople for what’s good and what’s bad about their respective countries. Music can be a very effective way to communicate thoughts and ideas. And a great song can change and affect people as much as any other work of art.
But when it comes to projects I work on : I live in a bit of bubble. As an engineer you aren’t usually aware of how the records affect people. Every once in a while, someone will send me a nice note about how much they like something I’ve worked on. But most of the time these albums just get sent out into the world and I’m not very aware of how important (if at all) they are to people.
I will say that I had a powerful experience being part of this album and that’s really the most important thing for me.

Let me assure you Ryan : don’t underestimate the influence of your work. You’re way up there for me, and I think many others also.
Already thank you for this, now a last quick one : studio or fieldrecordings ?

I’ve made recordings I’m really happy with in all sorts of places. 
Aimee Mann’s album 'Lost in Space' was made mostly in my one-bedroom apartment. Ray LaMontagne’s album 'God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise' was made in Ray’s living room. Almost everything I’ve done with Joe Henry over the last decade was done in his basement or versions of my home studio. 
I don’t think the physical space has as much to do with the recording as the people who make the album. It’s really the specific group of individuals coming together to put their passion, heart, and soul into something that really matters to them.
I just love recording. Wherever or however it needs to happen. I would never want to limit myself by thinking there’s a right and a wrong way to record.

(1) :For more technical info on Ryan's set up visit :  mixonline

dinsdag 31 januari 2017

2nd Europe leg has come to an end.

2 Weeks ago, Joe and Billy, embarked on their second European leg of the 'Shine a light' tour. It ended yesterday in Letterkenny Co. Donegak, Ireland.

Concerts much loved by their audiences. The social importance of it all only grew, for in this 2 weeks, millions of people  have been shaken up, woken up by the harsh reality we live in today. Joe and Billy, have given f.e. their support to the women's march in London, and walked along.

We live in dangerous times, but my heart warms in seeing protests grow against inhuman behaviors. Solidarity is becoming more and more visual in the world again. But, we must not let it slide away.
And to put it in Joe's words :

"This is not who we are, this is where we are"

BBC radio6 aired four songs from the Buxton show. They are worth it, but I think, will not be online forever. (correct me if I'm wrong there). So go over there and listen !
On that subject, I'd like to put in a request to release a live EP, or LP of some important songs, and messages.

Next stop for these 2 will be Australia. 
April 19, 2017 : Sydney Opera House
April 20, 2017 : The playhouse, Canberra
April 22, 2017 : Melbourne Recital Centre
April 23, 2017 : Melbourne Recital Centre

woensdag 25 januari 2017

This saturday some Live tracks from Joe and Billy

This saturday, on BBC Radio 6 there will be an exclusive 4 Livetracks from the 'Shine a Light' show at Buxton Opera House. Tune in on the Tom Robinson Show.

Tune in at 21:00h local time.
Afterwards I'll keep you posted for a possible link to relisten.

Edit : 29 Januari 2017

BBC 6 aired the  following songs
  • Why we Build the wall (B. Bragg)
  • The Midnight Special (J. Henry & B. Bragg)
  • The L&N Don't stop here anymore (J. Henry & B. Bragg)
  • Between the Wars (B. Bragg)

You have 29 days to listen to the stream at BBC6. It starts at 36:50 min.  

I hoped in advance to hear Billy's version of Anaïs Mitchell's 'Why we build the wall', and there it was. Thanks for that. But, I must admit, and here is the Joe Henry fan speaking, I was a bit dissapointed in hearing 2 Solosongs by Billy Bragg , and none by Joe Henry. But no worries, these are great sounding performances. The songs aired are too important these days, not to share. So I guess the only solutions in this matter is airing the enitre show. Because it's too important !

zondag 22 januari 2017

You Scare me to Death

Yesterday I reread Josh Hurst his review from JH’s album Civilians. In his review he spoke about the year 2007. It struck me, that I could change it to 2017, and the review was still valid. “Why do I reread reviews from a decade ago ?” You’re probably thinking. I guess you are right in thinking that.

You see, I think I’ll have to admit to myself that ‘Civilians’ has become one of my all time favorite albums. There is not 1 year that has passed, where I didn’t take the CD from the shelf and played it, or, like now, put it in the car, where it stays for weeks. Yesterday something struck me, which made me wonder how people looked at this album when it was released. And there you go, I’m rereading a review.

Today, I wanted to talk to you about 1 particular song : ‘Scare me to death’.  With everything that is going on in the world today, I listened to it completely in a new manner. It happened when I heard the first line : “I’ve seen the best, and the worst you can be”. I instantly thought about the differences between President Obama and President Trump. In that light, I continued on listening. Going deeper and deeper into the song, I started realizing (for me) it is not merely about 1 person, 1 nation or 1 group of people. Yesterday, Today and probably for now on, I think this song is universal. I’ve been thinking, since yesterday about it. Not what it means to me, but how to explain it. How do I express what I heard? I don’t think I can explain the subject of this song in 1 word. So let me make an effort here in trying to explain it.

The notion of democracy. I don’t mean democracy, that doesn’t scare me. I mean the notion of it. If you take it as it comes, there is nothing to it. It’s just the way things are, but the moment you start thinking about what it implies…. Neither do I mean a political party, I’m talking about living in a free democratic world.
What does it mean having the notion of it ? Does it mean cherishing it in your heart, or does it mean thinking about how it works? Mind or Heart? Thinking or Feeling?... You guessed it. You can’t have one without the other. If you don’t think about it, you’re cherishing something you don’t know what it implies. The other way around, you are learning and setting rules of something you have no feeling for. Like my previous post I make a comparison to art. If you love, for instance, playing music, you have to learn how to play it, and perhaps think about how it can evolve. But at the same time you’re expressing your feelings with it. To express what you feel, you need to learn the tools.

Back to my ‘notion of Democracy’. Today more and more people are very aware. I (and I’m sure many others) are witnessing the worst it can be, but f.e. seeing the global protest of this weekend’s Women Marches. I’ve also seen the best it can be.
Today we are aware of it. But, in history, and I fear also in time, we can loose our notion, and take it for granted. At that moment, some start abusing the system. They mislead the public into choosing things they didn’t want. And then they’ll say, it was chosen democratically. The system has been abused, because at that moment, the democratic choice, is something completely different than what the public wants. 
These days, here in Belgium, our (extreme) right winged sides are jumping on the wave they see currently in US and UK’s leadership. They started up their propaganda in trying to convince the people that’s the way forward for us. We have elections in 2018, and the notion that in our democracy everything is possible, that scares me to death. But at the same time it keeps me aware, and wants me to keep aware.

We have to keep the current flame awake together, because on our own, we quickly slide again in taking things for granted. We must not loose it like a quick stolen breath, because if we do, we open the door for people to abuse it for their own personal benefit.

Where lust takes the toll, of a quick stolen breath

With this I hope you understand what I wanted to express. I wouldn’t call this song a protest song, because it doesn’t protest anything. It is a powerful reminder. Never forget!


I've seen the best
And the worst you can be
And all while you're getting
The better of me

You're fragile but wicked
And fleeting as breath
And you move up behind me
And scare me to death

At war between
All good intentions and greed
My love is the kind
Where want becomes need

Where lust takes the toll
Of a quick stolen breath
You stir within me
And scare me to death

A dose now
Of either heart or of mind
Can be lethal, it seems
If they're not combined

They show but contempt
When considered as two
And pretend that each
Is the other to you

Now you spit in your hands
And haul on the rope
And fill up my cup
With the worst kind of hope

You lift me with words
I haven't found yet
I fall like your shadow
And you scare me to death

You sleep here beside me
And scare me to death