Life in Music inspired by Joe Henry

dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Nowhere Else Fest.

OK, about last weekend's Nowhere Else Fest.

I must stop reading everyone's stories and looking at all of their pictures. It is aching me to see the joy and companionship I had to miss,...Sigh

Picture by David K.

For those who were there, it seems every word I will add, probably can not express the experiences they had. 

If you also had to miss it :
Nowhere Else Festival was the inauguration of 'Nowhere Farm', the Residence of Over The Rhine. 
Of course, Over The Rhine performed there, but aside them also : Joe Henry, Levon Henry, Blind boys of Alabama(who baptist the farm), Birds of Chicago, The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, and many more,...
The weekend was filled with music, art, lectures about it,....

Lots of pictures to be found, but make sure to check out N. SHA's flickr page.  

But Most of all, my fellow blogger David was there, and has captured how it was for him. So be sure to check his blogpost.

vrijdag 27 mei 2016

Guest artist for David Plenn at 'The Eclectic' festival

On May 14, there was 'The Eclectic' festival in South Pasadena.

One of the concerts was David Plenn & Friends. It Seems Joe was 1 of the guests.

Reading a post from David on Facebook, I'm taking a gamble that Joe did an Allen Toussaint song.

Anyone can confirm that ? Feel free to let me know. 

Joe and David appeared also both at Parks Van Dyke's last solo concert. But I'm trying to figure out if there were other collaborations. Feel free to leave a comment or mail.

P.S. : If I'm mistaken with some info, please let me know. 

zaterdag 21 mei 2016

'Shine a light' tour is just Billy and Joe (as I suspected)

Seeing the nature of the songs and the album, I presumed Joe and Billy would be touring alone.

Billy Bragg Confirmed this on his Facebook.

Joe Henry and I will be touring the UK in November playing songs from 'Shine A Light' and favourites from our respective back catalogues. It's just going to be us two, no support, one long show with an interval, so come early and stay late.

vrijdag 20 mei 2016

Ticketsale 'Shine a light' tour seems to be going fast

A note from Joe on Facebook :

I'll be seeing them, and maybe you, in Portsmouth, UK. 

First live performance of 'Shine a light' songs

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry performed some songs of their upcoming album at the NonCOMM event yesterday, an event organised by WXPN.

Listen over here to a few songs, and some words on the recording of this project.

Throughout the set Bragg told stories of their railtrip, which began in Chicago, wound its way through the midwest and Texas and ended in Los Angeles. They recorded the album of covers at train stations during brief stops for the most part, though one song was recorded in the same Gunter Hotel room as the Robert Johnson sessions. (NonCOMM Recap)

One thing is for sure it is wonderful to hear these songs live.

There are lots of pictures and a videoclip from 'In the Pines' to be found on NonCOMM Recap.

setlist :
John Henry
In The Pines
Railroad Bill
Gentle On My Mind

maandag 16 mei 2016

New Joe Henry/Billy Bragg album announced

Exciting news came to us all today.

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg recorded a record together entitled

Shine a light, Field Recordings from the great American Railroad

It will be released on September 23, 2016.
In March 2016 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, guitars in hand, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station looking to reconnect with the culture of American railroad travel and the music it inspired. Winding along 2,728 miles of track over four days, the pair recorded classic railroad songs in waiting rooms and at trackside while the train paused to pick up passengers.

This quote comes from the wonderful accompanying website. It has for instance some short clips from the recordings. But you can also pre-order the record on that site,

and to add some more excitement : 

A US/UK tour is announced to promote this record.  

The US leg takes place in September and October. In November they will be in the UK. (A trip to the UK for me is coming up, so it seems )

Find all info on the 'Shine a Light' website

and of course, I'll keep an eye out for you on this subject off course.

Update : UK tourdates are available as of May 17th.US tourdates, depending on the show, between 20 May and 26 May.
Update II : Dates for the Nashville Music Festival will be announced later on. The festival takes place between september 20 and september 25. 

zondag 15 mei 2016

Fair Play, Fair Pay

Last week, Joe Henry was one of the many artists who went to Washington to re-launch the Fair Play, Fair Pay act. This act will ensure musical artists to receive royalties when their music is transmitted using analog media (AM/FM, Satellite,...). If I'm not mistaken, in the United States they only receive royalties when their work is transmitted using digital media.

In legal terms we are speaking about text H.R.1733 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) .

For more info visit musicFIRST

T Bone Burnett delivered a strong speech about the importance of musical artists in American History. Rosanne Cash gave him a wonderful introduction.

Read the entire speech at medium.com.

donderdag 12 mei 2016

Productional updates

acknowledgements go to David for all this info !

There are some production projects Joe did, I wasn't aware of.

Rose Cousins

Canadian singer-songwriter Rose Cousins has recorded her upcoming album with Joe in the producers' seat. To finance it all she organised a crowdfunding campaign.

2 Updates from the campaign :

February 2nd :
I've spent the month of January communicating with my producer Mr. Joe Henry trying to figure out the best plan for the wheres and whens of the new record! 
We have decided that we will record it in TORONTO starting Feb 28. We are carefully selecting musical characters from both LA and Toronto and I'm still working on a few tunes! ............And I'm excited to play with some of my friends and some incredible friends of Joe's!

March 5th
I head to bed in the wee hours feeling incredibly exhausted and completely satisfied with the deeply moving week of music I've just made with Joe Henry & Team. We recorded 14 songs in 4 days and added flourishes over the last two while listening back. As truly visceral and magical as I dreamed it could be. more later after some sleep .....#kicked
You can pre order the record on her site, and get it before the releasedate, which is announced for the end of the year or beginning 2017. 

Here is a song from her album 'We have made a spark'(2012)

Son of the Velvet Rat

Discovery of the year, this band is to me. Never heard of them, So I looked'm up, and wow! I love it. Got to keep following these musicians.

Son of the Velvet Rat is the project of Austrian Songwriter Georg Altziebler together with his wife Heike Binder on organ and accordion. The couple recently relocated to the California desert, leaving behind an impressive band history with 5 albums to their credit.

In a great article entitled Highway 62 Revisited Maggie Downs writes :
Right now, Son of the Velvet Rat is one of those bands on the brink, poised to make a big splash with its next album. It’s a production with Joe Henry, who has worked with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg, and Elvis Costello.
Velvet Rat’s sound is where punk rock, folk tunes, and French chansons intersect. Georg scrawls song lyrics on any available surface, including thin cigarette rolling papers; sometimes the lines are shoved into a pocket and lost, but most of the time they become something. Heike plays keyboards, accordion, and tambourine, and her voice creates the pure, vulnerable foundation underneath Georg’s scruffy croon.

Bonnie Raitt 

Bonnie Raitt has released her album 'Dig in Deep'. Joe Henry produced and wrote the song "You've changed my mind".  Joe played also Acoustic Guitar on the track.

vrijdag 6 mei 2016

A Conversation with Birds of Chicago

"There is a connection that can be made amongst humans through music and words together, and I haven’t found a way to replace it."

On April 23, I went to see Birds of Chicago perform in Eeklo, Belgium. Allison Russel, JT Nero, Joel Schwartz, Chris Merrill and Bart de Win, gave us a wonderful evening. With each song, the concert grew more intense. It was beautiful to see how they offered warmth and comfort to the audience.

Before the concert I sat down with Allison and JT for a wonderful conversation. We talked about recording ‘Real Midnight’, songwriting and what it can do to the listener, and most of all, we had fun and laughed. But first we discussed the word ‘Kinderspel’, a song title from their latest album, and that there is definitely a correlation between the Dutch and English use of the word. (Addressing that something is very easy to do.)

But in that case, why choose to give the song the Dutch name, and the English merely as translation between bars?

JT: Well, the song was finished in the Netherlands, and we played it for the first time at ‘Meneer Frits’. (concert venue in Eindhoven, NL). We sort of announced that we didn’t have a name for it yet. Then someone came to us after the show, and suggested it.
Allison: Well 3 people actually. First a friend of ours, and then 2 different people, separately, who heard her say that, said: “Indeed, you should call it kinderspel”.
 JT: You have the ‘Child’s game’ line repeated…
Allison: …. And it’s such a beautiful sounding word.

TIAL: Indeed, that’s what I was wondering also, did you choose it because it is a beautiful word?

JT: That also, indeed. Some words, that have the same meaning, can carry an extra musicality.
Allison: Yeah, Kinderspel is much more musical than Child’s game. 

TIAL: And in ‘Sparrow’ you end with a few French lines, is it also because of the musicality? 

Allison: I grew up speaking both languages when I was very small. I grew up in Montreal, Quebec. My parents where Anglophone, but I had a foster family for almost 5 years. And they were French speaking. So when I was very small, I spoke primarily French. I went to French school through primary and secondary. So, I just love the language, and there are certain things, I think, yeah, sound right or sound better in French then in English. I sometimes do that within one song.
I moved away from Quebec when I was 17. I try not to lose my French, so I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate it in life, but nobody in our community speaks French (laughter)
My husband doesn’t speak French, and those very few people in Chicago,….
JT: I know, I know... ,Particularly since she is teaching it to our daughter…

TIAL: So they’ll say something to you, and you answer, “Yes Yes,….”


JT: They’ll have their secret language, when they speak about me….

Allison: We never played a song more than 3 times. Maybe there was 1 song we played 4 times. That’s not at all the experience that I’ve had prior to this !

TIAL: Was it 'kinderspel' recording ‘Real Midnight’?

JT + Allison: (very firmly) YES!!

Allison: Because of Joe and his team it was! He made it feel so easy.
JT: So much, that we didn’t necessarily trust it the first couple of days. We both associate a certain amount of, with the lack of a better phrase, ‘labor pains’ and angst with a recording process. And I say that, and I think we did actually have pretty good recording processes before, but still, it was a whole other special sort of magic that was created with Joe, and his usual suspects.

TIAL: Yes, there is not only Joe, but also Ryan (Freeland) and Jay Bellerose…

Allison: And Patrick Warren….

TIAL: They are all people you really wanted to make this record with. Was it the first time you worked with them?

Allison: The first time we were meeting ! We met Joe briefly prior to the recording because we decided to work with him. We happened to be in California, and he came to one of our shows, we went to see his home and his studio. You know, With the fact that they were in the process of selling it, we realized: “Bands recorded there”! It was a very bittersweet and very emotional time for Joe and his family.

TIAL: Yeah, I can imagine, in a recent interview Joe explained why they moved. One of the reasons was because every time a production process goes on, the crew ‘takes over’ the house. That’s quite understandable.

JT: yeah, …. And then, I’m sure also with the reality of the recording industry, in terms of what people can budget, ….labels not as likely to fly a band out to a specific spot. It probably makes sense for him to be more mobile. We just felt lucky to have gotten the last bit of that. On the very last day…
Allison: … He called it his “master’s class for the last 10 years”. 

JT: You know, Jay Bellerose had a set of drums there, that hadn’t moved for like 7,5 years. That is one of the things that makes them able to make records the way they do. It’s one thing to say : “We are going to make our record live, and we’re going to do it the old way, and we’re going to do it in 4 days…” It all sounds great, but it takes Euhm,…. from the practical engineering side, Ryan and Joe, they knew all the ‘frequency ghosts’ and all those things you, at the start of a project, spend so much time on… Hours and Days…
None of that is happening. You are walking into a relationship with a physical space that has already been mented.  And so much of that, for Joe’s records, IS that drum sound. And that is so often where you spend the most kind of soul sucking hours on just trying to figure out, … You know…… and what They do…
Allison: Oh, it’s Ryan’s whole philosophy. 
JT: …Your first run-through of a song… When you hear it back, you should pretty much be hearing, what you’re going to hear, when the record comes out.
Allison: Which is NOT the norm for most recordings or producers. It is not the norm.
JT: for neophytes coming into that, I mean that is exactly what happened with us. We were running through the first tune we were going to do, and for Bellerose and Patrick Warren it was probably the 2nd time they heard the song. We ran through it a couple of times, … recording,… And then Joe says : “why don’t we stop for a second and listen”…. And I’m like, “Euhm that’s weird, we barely just,…!?” you know, … But then they play it back to you, and just that first run-through sounds so much better than anything you ever recorded in your life. (laughter) You feel so …

Allison: …. Buoyant…

JT: YEAH !, and galvanized, and from that point on, you feel so trusting and so confident and …. What is happening is that all that nervousness and all that burden of self-awareness like (in a whispering deep voice) ‘we are making a record-we are making a record….’ Just goes out de window, and you’re just ‘in it’. And that makes it sooo easy. That vibe is also reinforced with so many other small things in the way they kind of,… in Joe’s manner, in the way he operates….

Another big Joe Henry thing is : He doesn’t like people to know what they are going to play. He wants them to be open eared and responsive.
Allison: Joe has such an amazing ears. We never played a song more than 3 times. Maybe there was 1 song we played 4 times. That’s not at all the experience that I’ve had prior to this, in the studio! Not so much this project, but certain other projects, where you do take after take after take…. And you just want to shoot yourself by the end of it. (Laughing) You’re like “I never want to hear this song again! I hate this song! “ (laughing)

TIAL: You mentioned the nervousness disappearing. Nervousness, because you really wanted to work with these people. You even had actually never met them, but at 1 point you arrive in the morning, and they are standing in front of you, and you have to do it…

Allison: it went out of the window like JT said. Meeting all of them, Ryan and Jay, and Patrick and Joe, they are all such completely egoless people. They put everyone at their ease. They were all very welcoming. we just kind of played together, ate together and very quickly became sort of friends and family. That was the feeling. That nervousness of meeting our heroes, what’s this going to be like?, went out the window so fast, because they put us at our ease. They made us feel like peers and part of their club.

JT: And that’s also something: We, Birds of Chicago, have a very intuitive, tight bond with our people, our tribe. It is similar to what their tribe has. I suppose the open question we are going in is: Will the 2 tribes match? And they matched so beautifully. The reason why, is that everyone carries a similar ethic. It is never about you, it is about the song, and about that moment of empathy and connection with fellow musicians. Everybody wants that I think, and it is so easy to say, but in 99 out of 100 times it is so easily forgotten. It does not happen quite that way. We all, as musicians, particularly in the studio, without knowing it, set up impediments for ourselves, our own roadblocks, and things that make it harder for ourselves. 
Allison: which comes from insecurity.
JT: Yeah.

TIAL: But when you hear your songs, it makes total sense that you worked with these people…

JT: Yeah, and I think there is some of that to begin with. I think we were kindred spirits in terms of…
Allison: ...Joe would not have accepted the project if he didn’t feel like it was something he could connect with. That’s very wise on his part, and on Ryan’s part. And I think they are very careful in what they do and it shows in the body of work. The incredible bodywork they have between them all is really remarkable. Some of my favorite records, my favorite writing: Joe’s writing!  It’s all injected with that.

TIAL: You were the last ones to have recorded in the Garfield house, do you think that some of that atmosphere ended up on the album?

JT + Allison: Yes, I do, I do…

JT: You know, I think I became aware of that, by,…like the 3th day. On the first day, there is a process going on of letting go any baggage that we brought in. But once we relaxed enough, we became aware of what was going on for them, and that it wasn’t a typical recording for them.
Allison: They were very emotionally raw...too, in some ways this record is emotionally raw,... the kind of answering being parents for the first time, all of the looming mortality questions and what is this world our daughter is going to inherit? is it going to be better than the world we grew up in? That can be really frightening. (laughing)
JT: The thing with Joe and Ryan and those guys is they, again, create an atmosphere where none off those walls that go up between you, and why you wrote these songs in the first place, are allowed to exist. You are in that moment.  And I hear it in Alli’s singing. There is relaxation on one hand, but there is also a complete connection with why the song exists. Why you do this, why you need to do this. And again, That’s so easy to say, and so hard to achieve and maintain, in terms of creating that kind of bubble. We knew by the, ... I don’t know at what point, but we felt sort of the magic of that interaction, and it’s like: ‘ I’m definitely not going to do anything to get in the way of this, (laughing) Don’t let me be the one that…’ (laughing)
Allison: So, everyone becomes their best selves in that moment and you ARE,…You know, we use this phrase ‘in the moment, in the moment,…’ . It’s so hard to do that, but we WERE for those 4 days, because of this magical fairy dust, Joe sprinkled over all of us. 

It was quite unique, something I never experienced before, and probably never will again, unless we get to make another record with these guys.

JT: Giving a kind of emotional framework with lyrics, without giving the whole A to B to C …., that is something that’s appealing to me.

TIAL: In an interview, you once said:” We write it to “save” ourselves and don’t shrink from the idea that it can “save” other people…”

JT: Yes, we write songs to safe ourselves, but we don’t step away from the idea, that they could do that to others as well. That’s simply out of an awareness.
Before I started writing, (to safe myself), there were the artists, they still are, who wrote the songs I returned to, time and time again, when I was adrift, or worse than adrift… Who literally saved me, refortified me, redirected me. You become aware that music affords that to you in a way that nothing else in the world does. There is a connection that can be made amongst humans through music and words together, and I haven’t found a way to replace it. I’m not interested in finding a way to replace it. (laughing)

TIAL: But you write the songs with a certain emotion in it from yourself. Receiving feedback from the audience, or music journalists, critics,... does that change the way you see your own song? Like, “Hey, I never looked at it like that!”.

JT: Well we’re big believers, that once you’ve written a song, it is not yours anymore. I think one of the beautiful things of writing songs, I mean for my songs, is I am interested in creating an emotional skeleton, but not necessarily supplying all of the extendnace, -bad metaphor- :’flesh-bones-hair-eyecolor-…’ You know, some fluidity… . Because people are always going to insert their own narrative. And they should! Giving a kind of emotional framework with lyrics, without giving the whole A to B to C …., that is something that’s appealing to me. That’s satisfying. I don’t have much problem or fear with somebody taking a song and interpreting it, however they want to interpret it. That’s the beauty.
Allison: And it’s such a gift. Because when you read a review, or someone writes to us to explain what it means to them, that is such a gift. That something we wrote is of value to you. I mean: how amazing is that !

TIAL: I wrote my thoughts on your album, in the days after we had those terrible attack at Brussels Airport, and the subway. Listening to ‘Real Midnight’, made me think, this is the song that we need now! We need to stick up for each other. Don’t put us down, lift us up! It was a very difficult time for us over here. Hearing that, I thought, this is what we need! Listen to it!

JT: That means a lot to us! I think a lot of the emotional imperative of this album is, and this is me, as a person: When I’m aware of all the swirling, and terrible, chaotic forces in the world. Which, like anybody, you can feel very helpless about. my only antidote for that is to get small. There is a phrase: ‘to control, what you can control’. There is a bit of that in terms of : emotionally controlling what you can control. There are people that love you and that you love. It’s like:

“Are you doing all right, right now ?”, “How are you doing?”

you know, with the folks that matter around you…
And that’s, kind of always,… when things are so overwhelming on a world scale.
Allison: Don’t you feel like that? Cause I feel like that is the solution to any of the kind of violence that people enact when they don’t feel part of this world or loved in this world. Because that’s what that is really. They think there is another better world that they are going to go to, and maybe there is, or isn’t. If you totally given up on the world that you are in. The life that you’re in, to the point where you don’t care how many people you take with you.

TIAL: Absolutely! They don’t see it anymore...

Allison: That’s so scary!
JT: So much of living in this moment right now, is constantly being aware, you know, with the internet, of everything going terribly wrong, and every second around our globe.  It begs of you to think about ‘Where do you start ?’  

You start with…
Allison: …Being as loving and kind to the people that you come in to daily contact with. 

Birds of Chicago and Joe Henry will be seeing each other again at the end of the month, where they'll both perform at the Nowhere Else festival.  Jealous?, Me?, because I'll have to miss this. What makes you think that?


maandag 2 mei 2016

Rosanne Cash and Joe Henry, June 20 in LA

On June 20, 2016 Rosanne Cash and Joe Henry will be in LA for an evening entitled 'Composed : The intersection of Poetry and Song.'

The event takes place at the central library and is organised by ALOUD in LA. (ALOUD is the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ celebrated literary series of conversations, readings and performances at the downtown Central Library.)

An evening of  conversation and performance.

Like dreams, poetry and song enter our lives by way of a mystery—unrecognized and often uninvited. Both represent the speaking of the otherwise unspeakable: the place where real truth is unencumbered by fact, time is made elastic, and narrative emerges from the abstract to tell us something of who we are. Listen in for a special evening of music and conversation with two leading voices as songwriters and authors Rosanne Cash and Joe Henry (both multi-GRAMMY Award winners) reflect on the transcendence of language through poetry and song.

It's a free event, but they recommend you make a reservation.

Update September 2nd, 2016
You can listen to this conversation on this podcast. enjoy !

Available on Vimeo

Rosanne Cash and Joe Henry from ALOUDla on Vimeo.