A blog for Joe Henry fans

vrijdag 13 oktober 2017

Joan Baez on her last album and tour.

Variety has an interview with Joan Baez. Joe is producer of her upcoming album, which will also be her last album.

CREDIT: AGF s.r.l./REX/Shutterstock

She speaks about the songs she has picked for this album, and doing a last bit of touring next year.

“I’ve done something from Antony & The Johnsons, two from Tom Waits – ‘Last Leaf’ and ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ – Josh Ritter, one from an unknown, Zoe Mulford, brilliant. Twelve songs and they’re done. There’s one I might redo, Steve [Earle’s], because it has too much instrumentation and you need to hear the words.”

“Next year is my last year of formal touring,” said Baez. “There will be four different tours, one month each, and then that’s it."

zondag 8 oktober 2017

upcoming Steep Canyon Rangers

As mentioned before, Joe was involved in a new Steep Canyon Rangers album.

They've performed the song 'The speed we're traveling' for Pre-war Guitars Co.

They mentioned it was a song from the band's forthcoming album that will be out in January 2018. 

Edit : It is confirmed that Joe is producer of the upcoming album.  

woensdag 27 september 2017

A first 'Amy Helm' Glimp

Listen to a sample of the upcoming Amy Helm album, featuring Allison Russell and JT Nero from Birds of Chicago.  At the same time you get a look from the recordingsessions.

Oh, and don't forget to book tickets for the fundraising concerts !.

zondag 17 september 2017

AmericanaFest round up.

AmericanaFest2017 is walking its last steps. Joe and Billy Bragg where nominated for the 'duo of the year' award, for their Shine a light project. They didn't go home with the price, but their presence at this years addition will not be forgotten.

Embed from Getty Images

Following it all from across the ocean, let me try and give you an idea of Joe's contributions.

The people sing !

It started with an evening called 'The people sing' : An event To bring to life extraordinary history of ordinary people engaged in struggles for freedom and justice. As a first clip for this entry I need to start not with Joe, but by the act who opened this evening : Blind boys of Alabama. They did an amzing rendition of 'Amazing Grace', to the tune 'House of the Rising sun'. A must see !

Joe himself performed a few songs. Together with Billy Bragg he performed Woodie Guthrie's 'Ramblin Round'. and solo, according to nowplayingNashville Joe's powerful take on “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” the so-called anthem of the Great Depression. was 1 of the highlights.

I wish I could share it with you, but I haven't come across it yet. But what I can share is another highlight, where Joe is backing up Rhiannon Giddens on guitar for her 'Mal Hombre' with which she slammed the house I guess.

To end the night, all the artists joined in a sing-a-long of Guthrie's 'This land is your land'. Joe had the honor of getting it started.

Award show

Traditionally the award show will be aired as a special Austin City Limits broadcast in a while. I'll keep you posted on that one.

Joe and Billy performed together 'Gentle on my mind' in honor of John Hartford and Glen Campbell, and Joe presented the lifetime achievement award to Larry Sloven & Bruce Bromberg.

Songwriting Worksop

The AmericanaFest Calender lists a panel consisting of Rhiannon Giddens, Rodney Crowell and Joe Henry to discuss songwriting together. But following the pictures presented it seems not Rodney Crowell but Dirk Powell joined Joe and Rhiannon for this talk.
Embed from Getty Images

Some Quotes by Joe found on Twitter :
- "Being a songwriter is like jumping in an ocean & if you're really good at it sometimes you can swim in it."
- "Any song is equal parts hope and equal parts despair."
and my favorite : 
- "Listening is not a passive activity."

Solo Performance :

Joe did a soloshow at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. He was the opening act for Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne.
There is a wonderful photocollage of that evening made by NEWs in Pics.

Joe dug in his back catalogue as well as presenting new songs from his upcoming Album Thrum. nowplayingnashville writes : Highlights included “Believer,” from his new album “Thrum” due Oct. 27, and his back catalogue “Our Song,” as he took a turn on the piano.
Also on the setlist was : 'Odetta'

But me personally, I'm already a smiling person seeing Joe together with Allison and JT from Birds of Chicago bringing this version of John Prine's 'Storm Windows'.

If you enjoyed one of these events and like to share your story, or fill in the details missing here feel free to leave a comment, or send me a message.


woensdag 13 september 2017

Happy Releaseday 'Grace'

Words escape me to explain my appreciation for this album. How can I use an alphabetical vocabulary, to explain this musical masterpiece. You should simply listen to it, and let this album, these musicians, this voice cradle you in its warm arms.

zaterdag 9 september 2017

Joe Henry presents us Thrum

When the songs that make up Thrum began to arrive, pair off and multiply
––when I could hear within them a common vocabulary of shared
intention–– I began to imagine not only the cast of musicians that might

best articulate them, but as well a recording method which might bid
welcome the unknowable and mercurial in each, and conjure them wholly,
sparking into the room. And as I did, I went to my friend and longtime
engineer, Ryan Freeland, with a proposition concerning how I might make
an album that could allow for bold manipulations without forsaking the
alligiences inherent to our spontaneous, performance-based ethos....
I pitched Ryan the notion that I would assemble a room of trusted brothers
(one of them also a son); and as we offered up takes of each song, he
would respond to their cumulative weather pushing through the control
room speakers -- not as a dispassionate stenographer documenting all for
posterity, but as one making tonal movies on-the- fly: contorting, mixing, and
printing the results to 1/2" stereo analog tape in real time as we played.
This scheme would, of course, prove feasible and advantageous for me
only if Ryan and the other musicians found the invitation inspiring and not a
hindrance to their collective creativity, upon which I have grown to so rely;
and fortunately for me, they did to a man, and to them each I am grateful.
As such:
We convened twice, for two days each gathering, at United Recording in
Hollywood (its studio B being my favorite recording space in all of Los
Angeles, its crew the kindest); and with each song emerging in rotation, we
played to hear in collaboration its fundamental impulse; and as the song
took shape, Ryan made decisions about how to frame it all as a visceral
and singular listening experience. Ryan was, thus, a band member
–essentially playing all of us as we played each song.
I had described to Ry and the fellas something of what I imagined, sonically
––referencing, for example, a particular Ray Charles album recorded live at
the Olympia Civic Theatre in Los Angeles in 1964, wherein his voice
throughout threatens the authority of the audio equipment employed to limit
its dynamic volatility. When he sings low, the sound relaxes open like a
dilated pupil, saturating with intimacy and color; and when Ray becomes
fierce and pounces, it flares like a bulb being fed a wild surge of unmetered
electricity, distorting like a fine line of ink being pulled into fuzzy bloom by
thick and fibrous paper; and in truth, I wanted every sound to argue
containment and speak like a living soul breaking out of a flat, still
photograph and into vivid animation; wanted everything with its holy
fractures in view.

I instinctively felt and still do feel that these songs could flourish no other
way than being thrown headlong into the proverbial sea that would both
toss them high and then pull them under into depths from whence none
would emerge without 'the bends' that would leave them disoriented and
walking oddly though steadfastly forward. The songs, after all, each initially
surfaced to tease my reach like shadows in a fever dream: all of them
naked and asking after succor –all of them reconciling not only light in
darkness, but the light within darkness; of it: yielding what light itself shall
never; all of them wanting not only for love, but to be fairly seen without
judgment ––as every prodigal son and daughter longs to be.
And I embrace them here and all; am liberated, and accept that though of
my own invention, these songs nonetheless will survive as they do, and
well outside of my control, wild imaginings, and inevitable misgivings. So
may it ever be.
They will, alas, break my heart, somehow; and in so doing, make me
whole, I want to believe. Like the endless party in the apartment upstairs,
they are noisy and unnerving to me even now; and by morning will leave
empty bottles and un-mated shoes in their wake.
And in this way I shall follow them on.



Produced by Joe Henry
Recorded and mixed ‘live’ to stereo tape by Ryan Freeland
at United Recording, Studio B; Hollywood, CA
February 21 and 22; March 29 and 30, 2017

Recording assistance provided by Monique Evelyn
Mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering, Ringwood, NJ

Joe Henry – vocals and acoustic guitar
Jay Bellerose – drums and percussion
Levon Henry – all reeds, raw and cooked: alto and tenor saxophone; B-
flat, alto, and bass clarinet; whistling
David Piltch – upright and electric bass
John Smith – acoustic and electric guitar; backing vocals
Patrick Warren – piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano,
Chamberlin; String arrangement for “Keep Us In Song”

The Section Quartet
Eric Gorfain - first violin
Daphne Chin – second violin
Leah Katz – viola
Richard Dodd – cello

Asa Brosius – pedal steel

Joey Ryan – backing vocals

All songs by Joseph Lee Henry and published by Deal Notes/Plainspeak
Music (ASCAP), except “Now and Never,” by Joseph Lee Henry and
Kenneth Pattengale: Big Deal Notes/Plainspeak Music/Dr Caulwell And Co
(ASCAP). All rights administered by Words & Music, a division of Big Deal
Music LLC
Cover photography by Michael Wilson: "Marilyn's Hands" / "Tendril" (2016)
Portrait of JH by Glen Hansard; Co. Kildare, Ireland (May, 2017)
Design by Anabel Sinn

Management: David Whitehead with Brian Hultgren for Maine

Visit Joe's renewed official  website : Joe Henry Loves You Madly

vrijdag 8 september 2017

Thrum tour announced + pre orders.

good news....

Joe's website marks (also) the releasedate on October 27. 

We know the album is coming, but now a U.S. tour is announced !
For the moment 2 solo shows, and a list of full band shows are on display.

Solo Shows

Sept 14 – Nashville, TN @ Americana Fest (together with Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer.)
Oct 28 – Franklin, TN @ Franklin Theater(supporting the Milk Carton kids)

Full Band

Dec 2 – Durham, NC @ Baldwin Theater
Dec 3 – Charleston, WV @ Mountain Stage
Dec 4 – Sellersville, PA @ Sellersville Theater (With special Guest Rose Cousins)

For info : Joe produced Rose's last album.

Dec 6 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java (With special Guest Rose Cousins)
Dec 7 – Boston, MA @ City Winery (With special Guest Rose Cousins)
Dec 8 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge (With special Guest Rose Cousins)
Dec 9 – Woodstock, NY @ Levon Helm Studios (With special Guest Rose Cousins)
Jan 13 – Los Angeles, LA @ The Sanctuary at Pico Union

Get your tickets !

And secondly you can pre-order the album. And this time also on Vinyl. (Invisible Hour wasn't released on Vinyl).
Enjoy the first song : 'Believer'

vrijdag 1 september 2017

Amy Helm's Fundraising Weekend

You can help Amy Helm with funding her upcoming album produced by Joe.

On 29/09 and 30/09  she will be doing a fundraising concert at the Levon Helm studio; Woodstock,NY.
and the next day (october first) It will be a brunch with performance, conversation and cocktails at the Barn at Cucina; Woodstock, NY.

Buy your tickets for 1 night, or more at her site !

Een bericht gedeeld door Amy Helm (@amyhelmmusic) op

AmericanaFest 2017 performance

Additional artists have been confirmed for Americana Fest.

And yes, Joe is 1 of them.

On Thursday September 14, Joe will perform in the Downtown Presbyterian Church from 6:00 PM until 6:45 PM.

dinsdag 29 augustus 2017

Americana Fest Award show

AmericanaFest has confirmed the artists who will perform during the awardshow.

Joe Henry & Billy Bragg are among them. They are nominated as 'duo of the year' for their project 'Shine a Light'.

maandag 28 augustus 2017

Lauralee (with/for Andrew Combs)

A little while ago Joe Co-Wrote the song 'Lauralee' with (and for) Andrew Combs.

And with that : a new segment of this virtual universe is made. A page with the songs Joe wrote (or helped to write) for others.

I used to love to watch the wind 
Fall and lift again 
Your flowing hair
All I could do was stare 

That whispering quiet sound 
When it all came tumbling down 
Your skin all bare 
It just isn't fair 

Cause I still feel you in the air somehow 
Just like you were here, but you're not here now 

A word with wings 
That's all the wind sings

The bed that you once shared with me 
Lies there like my enemy 
Such a clever thief 
To steal my sleep 

Open windows, open eyes 
But the wind don't sing no lullabyes 
All I hear Is a voice, so clear 
Asking where in the world did you go 

After all my questions, 
I still don't know 

donderdag 24 augustus 2017

Kenneth Pattengale's History with Joe

I was incredibly influenced by Joe's work as a producer. It explains a really special time in musical history, one where we should be verry proud of. It doesn't feel as distant in the past as the other things that have that affect on me. That was happening 15 years ago.
(Kenneth Pattengale)

Steve Dawson had Kenneth Pattengale as a guest for his Extraordinary podcast Musicmakers and soulshakers. A Podcast that already featured several JH Aficionado, including Joe Himself and Ryan Freeland.

In this episode (n°45) it was half of the Milk Carton Kids, Kenneth Pattengale's turn.

Listen to his musical path. And at the end of the almost 2 hour episode he explains how his relationship with Joe started and grew.  (starts at 1:34:30)
Listen f.e. to an excerpt of his 2009 duet with Joe entitled Big Time, but also maybe his biggest Horror story. ;-)

Thrum Details

Amazon has Thrum online as a pre-sale.

They list the releasedate on October 27, 2017.
We also get the tracklist.

1. Climb
2. Believer
3. Dark Is Light Enough
4. Blood of the Forgotten Song
5. World of This Room
6. The Glorious Dead
7. Hungry
8. Quicksilver
9. River Floor
10. Now and Never
11. Keep Us in Song

The People Sing!

On september 12th the event 'The People Sing!' will take place.

An event To bring to life extraordinary history of ordinary people engaged in struggles for freedom and justice.

It's a gathering that takes place on openingnight of Americanafest 2017. Presented by AmericanaFest, War Memorial Auditorium and Voices of a Peoples History of the U.S
Invited by Allison Moorer, Joe is 1 of the participating artists next to Hayes Carll, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Alice Randall, Teddy Thompson, Otis Taylor, Elizabeth Cook, Shelby Lynne, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rhiannon Giddens, Billy Bragg, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and more. 
It's not the first time Joe performed for 'Voices of a Peoples History'. In 2014 he performed on their 10th anniversary celebration.
And don't forget that Joe and Billy Bragg are nominated for duo of the year.
This summer I myself became verry emotional concerning 'ordinary people engaged in struggles for freedom and justice.'
I read Flemish Author Stefan Hertmans book 'Oorlog en Terpentijn' (War and Turpetine). Stefan Hertmans his Grandfather was a soldier in the frontlines during the first World War. He wrote down his lifestory. 
I've been taught about the WW's in school, I've seen movies, documentaries, read books, but it's this one that had the biggest confrontation of what it must have been to live in a war. It's a stunning, shocking and heartbreaking book, about how a beautiful person's life has been overthrown by this war.
For our Familyholiday we went to flanders fields this year. Everything that I absorbed  on my Holiday lead me to write the following.

Out there in these Flanders Fields….
A generation of young individuals. These men and women, these heroes… Their lives chattered by mightier men, more powerful men who wanted more of the same thing.

A generation of beautiful people, forced to live in a disgusting world….
Everyone has heroes, people you look up to, and dream of grasping just a little spark of their talent. But the people who fought in the great war are part of a higher Heroism. A Heroism of which you do not want to have the littlest part of. I’m pretty sure, that even most of these soldiers in the frontline wished they had a normal youth. Wished they didn’t have to carry afterwards all these ghosts from the past with them.
4 Years in Hell. Without a choice… Wait, … No, they had choices: refuse to fight, and be executed as a traitor, fight and die, or fight and by strange ways of how things go: survive… physically.
4 Years forced in the frontline, by men, behind comfortable desks, who maybe only have seen the trenches when the battle was already done. Trenches they lived in, … Trenches they dug themselves lying down... Because standing up, was an open invitation for a bullet. Day after day after day.... Living between their own human dirt and the rats. No warm food, because the smoke of heating it, would give them away. Only the constant fear, that it could be over the next minute. Day after day after month, after year…
Out there in these Flanders Fields.
With the biggest respect,

maandag 21 augustus 2017

Opening act for Milk Carton Kids concert

Joe will be the openingact for the first show of the new 'Milk Carton Kids' tour.

October 28, Franklin TN, Franklin Theatre.

For tickets and info visit the MCK website.

Joe's upcoming album 'Thrum' is anounced for somewhere in those months, so perhaps there's a chance you will be hearing some of these new songs...


vrijdag 18 augustus 2017

dinsdag 8 augustus 2017

Lizz Wright's rendition of Barley

New single of Lizz Wright's upcoming album 'Grace'.

Produced by Joe Henry
Written by Allison Russell
Originally recorded by Birds of Chicago, (available on the album 'Real Midnight' which was also produced by Joe).

Need I say more....

As Wright herself writes, “‘We sing to remember home and to make ourselves at home in any place.’ These are the words of my dear friend Toshi Reagon. In ‘Barley,’ JT Nero and Allison Russell (from Birds of Chicago) churn a wise and faith-filled sentiment to build a place to rest assured of my sense of belonging and peace. I’m excited to see young writers using this old blues style of repetition in their work. Feels so good.” (Paste Magazine)

Grace will be released on September 15, 2017.
pre-order it today!

vrijdag 14 juli 2017

First single out from Grace.

Something we all are waiting for, is the release of Lizz Wright's upcoming album 'Grace', produced by Joe.

NPR has an interview with Lizz, and gives you a first single : Seems I'm never tired Lovin' you .

Make sure to check that out !

woensdag 12 juli 2017

Steep Canyon Rangers

Joe was involved in the recording of a new album by the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Een bericht gedeeld door Steep Canyon Rangers (@steepcanyonrangers) op

In a state that’s also produced Doc Watson, James Taylor and the Avett Brothers, there’s hardly a more well-rounded answer than the Steep Canyon Rangers. 
A bluegrass band at their core, the Steep Canyon Rangers effortlessly walk the line between festival favorite and sophisticated string orchestra. They’re as danceable as the most progressive, party-oriented string band, and equally comfortable translating their songs for accompaniment by a full symphony.(Stratton Lawrence)

Although Joe's role is not specified. I assume he acted as producer. (Correct me if I'm wrong here.)
Edit 8 Oktober 2017 : Joe is indeed producer. 

donderdag 15 juni 2017

A 3 day Residency at Duke Performances

OK everyone,

Book your tickets direction Durham...

Joe is resident artist at Duke Perfromances from 30 November untill the 2nd of December. 

I'm pretty sure I will have to miss out on it. But I wish you all the most wonderful 3 days.

30 November :
A free public talk at the Nasher Museum of Art, called “Take Me to the River,” about the ephemeral, mystical nature of artistic predecessors.

1st of  December :
A talk about the alchemical process of making records, “Is It Rolling, Bob?,” at Durham’s Sound Pure Studios.

2nd of December :
A fifty-seventh birthday concert, playing every song from his new album, Thrum, as well as other tunes from his expansive songbook.

Go to their site for more info. 

By the way :
It is not the first time Joe is in Durham. In 2014,  he was there for a special program called 'Wild Edges' together with the Milk Carton Kids, and Over The Rhine.  For that one, I am still hoping that someday the recording of that evening will be released.

Thrum will be its name

1 of the things to choose when a child is born is its name. It is something people give a lot of thought about, because It'll (mostly) last a lifetime. As a parent, it is a first direction you give. How will people adress you?

Off course with musical albums, it is a bit different. The music is already recorded. But still, what title do you give the album, so that it sums up everything you want to share with it?

Joe's upcoming album has received a name. And is now known as 'Thrum'.

Today, we don't know the songs, and this title makes me even more curious about them.

For instance, Thrumming is a musical expression. You can thrum f.e. on the snares of your guitar, or with your fingers on the table, or thrum by speaking.  Making a repeating monotone sound, to give a simple explanation.

But thrum means also something completely different. A thrum is a loose end, and I think in today's society, we have a lot of loose ends.
But also on a personal level there are, I think,  for everyone loose ends. I'm sure about it for myself anyway.  I don't see it as a worrying thing, or something that holds me back. On the contrary, it are the things that define for me in which direction I need to evolve. It is the map I need to follow....

....Ah well, I'm just thinking about the word Thrum over here, I certainly will await its birth and see it grow.


vrijdag 12 mei 2017

Joe and Billy nominated for the Americana Awards 2017

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg, have been nominated for a 2017, Americana Music Award.

Alongside Drive-By Truckers, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives and The Lumineers they are nominated for duo of the year.

Already Congratulions on that.

The Award show takes place in Nashville, on September 13, 2017.

Grace, by Lizz Wright

A lot of details concerning Lizz Wright's upcoming album have been released. The album will be entitled 'Grace', and releasedate is set for September 15, 2017.

There are 2 covers on the album, where Joe also produced the original versions. First there is 'Barley' from Birds of Chicago. And then there is the titletrack by Rose Cousins.

I give you some excerpts from the press release.
Grace was tracked live on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles alongside a standout cast of musicians at United Recording Studios – the sessions feature her nearly 20-year collaboration with Atlanta-based pianist and choir director Kenny Banks Sr., special guest guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist David Piltch, guitarists Chris Bruce and Marvin Sewell, drummer Jay Bellerose, and keyboardist Patrick Warren. An expansive collection of 10 songs and an original co-write with Maia Sharp (“All the Way Here”), Grace is Wright’s testament of devotion to speaking and embodying the fullness of her humanity through music. Her most clear statement to date, Grace finds Wright standing center stage in the complex dialogues of coexistence and interdependence between all walks of life.
The vast landscapes portrayed on Grace are brimming with Wright’s singular translations of music by Ray CharlesAllen ToussaintNina SimoneSister Rosetta Tharpek.d. langBob DylanFrank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, as well as emerging artists Rose Cousins and Birds of Chicago. From a body of about 70 covers collected primarily by Joe Henry, 10 works were selected that mirror Wright’s rural upbringing and the trail of stories and songs that have brought her to the world stage. Having a strong sense of intention to speak of grace from the inception of the project, Wright forwent writing the title track after hearing “Grace” by Rose Cousins – the first title track Wright didn’t compose from her catalogue of six studio recordings. 
Grace opens with “Barley,” a song penned by Birds of Chicago based on the traditional blues format of word repetition. With its sweeping march and repeating phrases, “Barley” has Wright churning an ancestral force of affirmation and encouragement.
Joe Henry’s years of friendship and collaboration with Allen Toussaint brought “Southern Nights” to the pre-studio listening session. Allen’s spirited trail of rural imagery made “Southern Nights” the song that felt like home.

“Lizz Wright and I have been friends for nearly fifteen years; I’ve hungered for the chance to stand in service to her as she sang, so powerful do I find the expression of her humanity. It was and remains an honor to have been Lizz’s scout along the journey of Grace. And in such dark times, we are all as musicians called to answer brutality with wild and inclusive beauty. When Lizz now sings, I am allowed to feel by extension that I am doing something of my part. What a gift that has been to me; what a gift she offers all.”

Joe Henry

Pre-listen to excerpts of this album.

zondag 30 april 2017

'A new Joe Henry album might help'...

 The title of this entry was a tweet that appeared this week. Joe replied to it.

I guess we can say from reliable sources that a new Joe Henry album is planned to be released in October.

Last July, Steve Dawson already asked Joe if he had a new album in the works. Steve Dawson has a serie of great podcasts. Joe was one of the people he interviewed.

 "I like the idea of making a record before this year is out, but I haven't figured out how" was one of the things Joe answered last July. 

Then, A few weeks ago, Joe already let us know, he was recording something in the studio.

vrijdag 21 april 2017

Looking Back, Artist of the decade.

I was remembered today of the most wonderful words, Andy Whitman wrote in 2009, on Joe Henry. It was an article he did for Paste Magazine.

These words still stand, so I'll share them again for you. I wish you all happy readings.


Nobody—and yes, that includes the crotchety curmudgeon from Hibbing Minnesota—wrote better songs this decade than Joe Henry. He released four albums in the Aughts:Scar,Tiny Voices, Civilians, and Blood from Stars. They’re all essential. Just buy them. I’d like to think that, in 20 or 30 years or so, when the musical wheel turns and the world reassesses all that has been ignored, these albums will be recognized as the masterpieces they are.
So do alt-country bands like The Jayhawks. So does the supremely gifted Victoria Williams, whose vocals are even more idiosyncratic than Joe's. So does guitarist Marc Ribot, but he plays with everybody. He occasionally employs operatic divas to provide accompaniment for lines like “Because there was no gold mine, I freed the dogs and burned their sled." Good luck trying to find a label for the surrealistic dreamscape that is his music. I'm content to just call it great. As an added bonus, his lyrics also happen to be jaw-droppingly wonderful, and work more often as standalone poetry than those of The Poet of a Generation. His songs are as consistently, restlessly challenging and rewarding as contemporary music gets.
So maybe I’m bitter, sitting here in my coffee-stained T-shirt. I don’t know why the rest of the world doesn’t recognize this incontrovertible truth. Maybe it’s the nondescript name that keeps people from discovering music that is anything but nondescript. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that Joe Henry’s songs don’t fit into an easily defined box, and are too genre-busting to slot within the confines of today’s narrowcasting world. Whatever it is, Joe Henry is the Dylan that scarcely anybody knows.
I interviewed him five or six years ago, right before the release of his album Tiny Voices. He had woken up shortly before I called, and he had just returned from dropping his kids off at school. It was delicious to imagine this dutiful father and devoted family man returning to his notepad after making sure that the kids had their lunch money in hand, jotting down lyrics about widows of Central American revolutionaries, junkies, and rape victims, reveling in apocalyptic imagery involving bombers and tanks and beauty queens and circus freaks selling lemonade. He was writing the kind of shadowy, surrealistic nightmares that Dylan hadn’t explored since “Desolation Row,” and I imagined that he was doing it in his pajamas.
I don’t know if that’s literally true, of course, and Joe Henry wasn’t telling. But maybe that’s because he’s the master of the oblique, of the truth that resides in between the lines on a page, of the indirection that conveys as much in what isn’t said as in the black and white lyrics in the CD booklet. His song “This Afternoon” is a masterpiece of impending dread, of ominous detail piled atop ominous detail, and he never once gets around to saying what actually happens. But you have a pretty good inkling, and it isn’t good.
and during the past 10 years he’s worked with artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Teddy Thompson, Aimee Mann, Mavis Staples, and Mary Gauthier, and has almost single-handedly revived the careers of Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint, and Bettye Lavette.
It’s a staggering body of work. Do yourself a favor and check him out now, before the musical wheel turns.
(Andy Whitman)

dinsdag 18 april 2017

Australian Record Store Day

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg will do an instore set during Record Store Day in Melbourne.

Place to be : The Basement Discs, Melbourne. 

We think it’s looking spectacularly good & of course we are particularly chuffed & humbled by BILLY BRAGG & JOE HENRY agreeing so readily to be a part of our very special day.  Both have done in-stores here separately over the years & quite naturally are huge supporters of all things independent (& record stores in particular) , so it was just so perfect & timely that they happen to be in Melbourne for their shows the weekend of RECORD STORE DAY!!

I Don't have an exact hour for Joe & Billy's set. But I'm sure the store has. ;-)


zaterdag 15 april 2017

2017 Summerfestivals

As previously announced : Joe and Billy will perform at the Byron Bluesfest.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Canada : 13-16 July  (Performance on the 14th)
 Newport Folk festival ,US : 28-30 July (Performance on the 29th).
Calgary folk fest, Canada : 27-30 July (Performance on the 27th).

new announcement :
Hillside Summer Festival, Guelph Lake Island : 14-16 July (Performance on the 16th)

To be updated... ?

vrijdag 14 april 2017


Joe made his contribution on the Internet for #WhatJusticeMeansToMe
Since he mentions he's at that moment in Belfast with Billy Bragg, we can date the filming of this clip to January 29, 2017. It where the days of heavy protest against Trump's Muslimban. It was a week where I saw humanity, solidarity and kindness, all over the world, become un-neglectable. A week that moved me to tears to see hope growing.

The 'Justice Project' asks everyone to share their idea of what Justice means personally.

"One of the great truths about the human perspective is that we don’t see the world as it is but as we are. So at THE JUSTICE PROJECT we decided to ask people and invite people from around the world who are old and young, healthy and infirm, free and incarcerated to tell us: “What justice means to me.” In this effort, we don’t expect to corner the truth about justice but to witness it by being an honest witness and honor our mission statement to lend an ear and give a voice. Please take a look and join us. As Scripture would remind us, “We’re not expected to finish the work but neither are we excused from it.”

What Justice means to me ?
- We should all, treat all of each other, as human beings, with the respect for human beings. Only then we will live in a just world. I believe today we generally confuse justice with, 'living-like-we-do.'
Looking at that, has nothing to do with Justice.  Looking beyond that has far more to do with it. Because then, we will look at each other as human beings, and we can find the respect for each other.


donderdag 6 april 2017

Producing Joan Baez

RollingStone has an article on Joan Baez : Joan Baez's Fighting Side: The Life and Times of a Secret Badass . 

Now, at the age of 76, she will be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, and she has a new album in the works produced by Joe.

With Donald Trump in the White House, rock is entering a new protest era, and Baez is helping lead the way. Last fall, she performed at Standing Rock in North Dakota as part of the protest against the Dakota Pipeline. In January, she participated in two Women's Marches on the same day, one in Redwood City and another in San Francisco, and she's helping to plan a show to benefit illegal immigrants (her father was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age two). "So many people have said to me, out of the blue, 'We need Joan Baez right now,' " says Joe Henry, who's producing Baez's next LP. "She's been fiercely standing where she is her whole life." When Henry told his sister-in-law Madonna he was working with Baez, he says, she texted him: "She's a fucking warrior hero."

She's planning one last worldwide tour, next year, right after she finishes her in-progress album, for which she's already cut covers of songs by Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, Josh Ritter and Anohni. "There's a feeling that things are winding down, and I wanted to do one more studio effort," she says. She's even recording with the same acoustic guitar she used on her first album (it has been refurbished several times). "She's at peace with it," says Joe Henry. "She has other things she'd like to focus on, like her painting. I didn't feel like it was with any regret." 
read the full interview on RollingStone.

The album will be entitled : 'Fare Thee Well' (source) 

Edit April 7, 2017
Joe's reaction now that the word is out :

vrijdag 31 maart 2017

zaterdag 18 maart 2017

Son of the Velvet Rat

Somewhere last year, Joe updated his Website and added to his productionlist : son of the velvet rat ; Releasedate to be confirmed. It was clear I needed to update this blog, and make a new entry. The only thing was.

... I had never heard of this band....

Naturally the first thing you look for is their website, and instantly the view of their opening page intrigued me. An image like an old postcard, or a moviestill from a long forgotten film where they started to experiment for the firsttime with color. It assures this is not just a band making one song after another. No, they are creating their universe, and inviting you into their musical world. The image I saw, was an invitation I just had to accept.


I listened to their music, and I can not say anyting else then, that it was love at first sight for me. But now comes the tricky part, because how do I explain why I really like this ? I heard a lot of influences that I could refer to, but over the days and weeks, I started thinking on that. The danger is, that I will be diminishing them to merely a summary of artists I like. Like they just made a patchwork of sounds that already existed. But that's most definetly not the case.They are really unique !

So this post is probably more about my musical taste, then in to explaining who is 'Son of The Velvet Rat'. But maybe if you like this little part of my musical interest, you'll know you will love this band, who brings you a perfect blend of European styles, mixed with Americana songs.

There are flavors of French Chansons, German Avant Garde, Gipsy sounds, each time mixed with an American feel to it.  I found it almost symbolic that their album 'Red Chamber Music' opens with a slow country waltz 'Prayers': A song that brings you the question where are the things we know, before we know them, or after they're gone ?  Followed by a joyous 'Vampire song'.   Not many artists can bring you such an uplifting song that begins with "It's cold in the grave, It's cold as ice". Nick Cave Maybe ?
'King of Cool' reminds me of the band 'Sparklehorse', and other songs bring me to Dave Eugene Edwards, Some songs take place in small bars, heading towards closing time and lost dreams that make you wonder what ever happened to them.
That brings me to ballads that sound like a younger Tom Waits that pass along, You'll get lyrics that would have been worldfamous, if they were signed by B. Dylan or L. Cohen. It's all in there.

And now they released Dorado produced by Joe Henry. A continuing of their universe, opening with a Melancholic 'Carry on'. You stare in to the dessert, and wonder about its mysteries and secrets. But it's not all darkness on this album. There is also joy, urgence, mysterie,....
My personal favorite of that album ? : 'Starlite Motel'. Its atmosphere, mysterie.... Do I want to go there ? I don't know, but I'm attracted to it.

SotVR is not known where I live, but I'm convinced there is an audience over here waiting for them. I'm one of that. So I hope their world will reach down here.


donderdag 9 maart 2017

Special guest at book signing 'A life in Pursuit'

Update 17 March, 2017 : Joe's Presence has been cancelled.

JH will be a special musical guest at book store 'book soup' during a booksigning of the book 'T Bone Burnett, A life in pursuit. '
Event takes place on March 30.

Author of the book Lloyd Sachs will be discussing and signing the book on March 30 (7p.m.).

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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 รจ tornata in studio di registrazione con il produttore americano Joe Henry per il suo ultimo album la cui uscita รจ 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