A blog for Joe Henry fans

zondag 9 september 2018

Writing in Ireland

As you know, Joe is spending some time in Ireland these days. He recently finished producing a record for Rhiannon Giddens, and upcoming there are 5 concerts.

Besides that, there is also a Masterclass by Joe, Lisa Hannigan and Glen Hansard, followed by the last concert in the region.

Helas, the last show at Burren College is already sold out.

But Joe's work doesn't stop with these things. On top of that, Joe is there to write !

In a radio interview, that is now available as the David Fanning Podcast, Joe explaines that he was invited by Burren College in Ballyvaughan to do a 1,5 month long writing residency.
Follow the link below and listen to Joe talking about it. But keep up, because that showhost can speak mighty fast! (It's also a 20 minutes talk about Joe's influences and work.)


Oh, speaking of writing : Joe announced that a poem of his would be published for the first time in the New Yorker. You can find that one by following https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/10/death-of-sound

But now,  how is that writing going on in Ireland?

zaterdag 8 september 2018

Shuffletown on Vinyl

Last week, Joe's 3th album Shuffletown was released on vinyl. Ever since its release in 1990, this is the first time this album is released on Vinyl.

'Why is this one pressed on Vinyl ?', is not the correct question to ask. The question is: 'does it deserve to have such a re-release after 28 ! years?' Joe ,Is it something you need to grab your breath for, for a second ?

... Where did time go ? Sandy Denny already asked that question in 1967.

Shuffletown, and certainly the making of it, is maybe the most important album for Joe Henry. Produced by T. Bone Burnett, it marked the beginning of a journey that, today, still is on-going.
I'm sure there always would have come a 'Shuffletown', but where would Joe be today, if T Bone,  musical genius and mountain was not behind the desk? If he did not step in to Joe's life?

Perhaps it was ment to be ? I mean if your full name is Joseph Henry Burnett, what are the odds your path crosses Joseph Lee Henry...

T Bone presented Joe an other way of recording music. The album was recorded in 3 days, with a band performing the music live. Today, Joe himself is known for using this way of producing. The result of it are all gems for the artists he worked and works for.  All those albums are simply amazing.
Today this is a comfortable way of working for Joe, who sometimes has to convince artists of this method, but at the time of Shuffletown it was a new and nervous-making approach¹ for Joe.

But this, to me, is actually a small practical outcome of it all. Joe himself said he learned that, when recording music  you're engaging something that's already in play and you're trying to abide it.¹
We are only the medium to get this art out there. It is about the songs in the first place. And these songs deserve an honest chance. And when it comes to this, what is more honest then trying to grasp that moment when the musicians play together, and how they play together ? Trying to reproduce take after take after take is not a good idea when it comes to that. That is why T Bone Burnett wanted 'Shuffletown' to be recorded on an analog 2 track, instead of a multitrack. That way he ensured that no one would be able to "fuck with it" later.¹ 

The album was released, but it left Joe without a record deal. On the positive side, Joe could start working as a production assistant for T Bone. Joe had found his mentor, and he evolved in the great producer, and musicmaker he is today.

Shuffletown is a beautiful album. Its cover presents you 2 images. A boy holding 2 pigeons next to a boy holding down another kid. White next to brown/orange... I'll let your mind shuffle with it.

But Shuffletown does really exist. It's a community that grew around 'Shuffletown Dragway'. It's actually a bit cynical that the dragway had to dissapear because people living in the community started complaining about the noise of the dragway (that originated the community).

But back to the music. Everyone familiar with T Bone and Joe's work will recognise the clear sound of all the musicians evolved in this record. I personally am most in love with the mandolin and accordion sounds nestling in my ear. But what else can you expect with such great musicians, backing Joe up. David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash), Cecil McBee(Wayn Shorter, Keith Jarrett), Phil Kelly, Michael Blair(Tom Waits), Charlie Giordano(Bruce Springsteen), Don Cherry(Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins)  and T Bone Burnett.

Today, it is really nice to hear these songs so fresh on vinyl. It's been a long time since Joe has played them live, but I know his audience sometimes request them. I f.e. remember someone asking 'John Hanging' during a concert. (We didn't get to hear it by the way). It doesn't matter, I'll let Joe choose for what he feels comfortable that evening, because that's the most honest towards the song.

So yes, I do believe this album deserves the re-release on vinyl. 


1 : A life in pursuit, Lloyd Sachs

donderdag 30 augustus 2018

Producing Rhiannon Giddens

The Ghost is out of the bottle....

Photographer Laura Aurora spoke out loud, what all of us were (well I was) hoping...

"Had an amazing few days filming behind the scenes with @rhiannongiddens and @fraturrisi who have just recorded an INCREDIBLE album with @joehenrymusic producing, making magic happen."

This is some of the most exciting news concerning Joe's production work for me. Ever since 'Tomorrow is my Turn', it was verry natural for me that one day, Rhiannon would also work with Joe behind the desk. T bone Burnett is Joe's Mentor, and Rhiannon and Joe have worked together on previous occasions  (Carolina Chocolat Drops, Wexford Carols, Birds of Chicago,...)

So yes, I'm really looking forward to this one.


zaterdag 25 augustus 2018

dinsdag 21 augustus 2018

vrijdag 17 augustus 2018

Read Joe Henry's poetic words on Aretha Franklin's passing.

Yesterday, Aretha Franklin passed away. The entire world mourns, and everyone pays their respects.

I generally don't share the amazing words Joe offers in repsect of those that are hard to honour in spoken language. But this one hit me full frontal.

On his Social Media Joe wrote his goodbye. Its words are strong and beautiful, Pure poetry. The lay-out of it, even shares its beauty. This is how you honor a Queen.

RIP Aretha Franklin, and from here on, I'll offer this space to Joe's words.


I shall say up front that to approach this engagement
requires first that one sleep on rocks, drink
from shoes; become naked
and marked with bramble,
weep bitter tears:

Aretha Franklin is dead.

She not queen for a season or region
but forever and for all, as if by
Biblical prophecy;
she of the storied mountain and too
the train steaming through its most
reluctant and unforgiving chapters;

She like no river so much as the Mississippi
that has run forward and back and has
born upon its shoulders the building blocks
of our confused and bloody history
and spied from the center of rushes lauded cities
in flames ––consumed by our own
unrelenting and misshapen desires;

She of all time and none;

She the winter of ’29, the
spring of ’33 ––the fall of ’63 wherein
churches burned and pilgrims
sank before harbor;
she not only of Sam’s fierce grace and slide
but of Ray’s grim crawl, Georgia to Washington,
carrying red dirt in his cuffs
and fish sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper;

She not only of Martin but of Malcolm;

She of scrubbed hands and tired feet,
the childless and the over-run with children.

She not of industry but of mystical vision:
smokestack, sack-
cloth and ashes; thunder and
chain lightening; she of unmarked graves,
and words beyond ringing words; she of

fire and fury and breathless wonder, the gospel
according to love and loneliness and bound for
no other glory but that of she
who has been

remains ex-

actly what you

first took

be that bright

noon calling
a passing

car the

voice of

herself she



RIP Steve Lippman (Flip)

Last sunday, Steve Lippman (AKA Flip) suddenly passed away. We wish everyone close to him strenght in these difficult times.

Steve Lippman was a filmmaker. He made 2 short movies with Joe. 

- Just last month, Steve's short movie Life Saving, a Short Film in 4 Chapters with Joe Henry was presented to the audience.

- In 2003 they made a film 'Tiny Voices'.

Sleep well,
Stefan & Family