Life in Music inspired by Joe Henry

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"

At the Union Chappel show, they were joined by Chas & Dave for Midnight Special. Joe Produced Chas & Dave in 2013.

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

vrijdag 20 januari 2017

Farewell Mr. Obama

Joe Henry wrote today on FB, in his wonderful style, his emotion of saying goodby to President Obama. Today Joe is in Europe touring with Billy Bragg, and spreading the important message :

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

Today? What do I do today?

Today, in comparison to 4 and 8 years ago, I don’t watch TV, or a webstream. I am at home, listening to music while I type. A new episode in World History begins. Donald Trump is the new President of the USA.
I’ve read, heard and seen political analyzers discuss the score of Barack Obama’s presidency. Over and over I heard them display facts about decisions and evolutions that would display him not as a great president. Measurable facts that a good president should accomplish. I can’t argue with that. I’m not a political analyst. But, indeed, there are facts which I also didn't like.  And then again,  I also think it is impossible to judge because we didn't have a full view of everything that went on behind the curtain.  The bigger picture.
For me : Barack Obama was not only a great president, he is also a great human being, who was the president of the USA. You can’t measure today the influence he will have on history.

I make a comparison with Art. You can’t (one on one) measure what the influence is of Art in a Society. But after decades you will see, and feel what happened to society, because we didn’t support Art.
I feel the same thing about Barack Obama’s Presidency. I am convinced it will only be after years to come that we will look back, and see the greatness he displayed.

Unfortunately we live at times where everything has to be measured, facts of the moment need to be checked, and evaluated. Consequences based on that. Even in Education and Arts it happens like that. (Strangly enough). We judge people, students, artists's future and past on those bases. But that's impossible! We look at the tree, while we should judge the forest.

That is something we need to change I think. As Human kind !

What  I really wanted to say : I will miss Obama : A great President !
What next ?
When it comes to displaying that ? I’m only at the ankles of B. Obama himself.


maandag 16 januari 2017

A 'Jay Bellerose' anecdote

Sometimes you find stories in unexpected places.

On a blog about cycling, (Hey we Belgians, love our cycling) I came across a story about Jay Bellerose.

Brian Palmer, a cycling fan, tells the following story. 

...there are few of us in the percussive milieu who would have taken such a pragmatic and philosophical view of a similar situation...

I was recently listening to an interview with one of my favourite drummers, a chap by the name of jay bellerose, who i'm sure i have mentioned before. for those unacquainted with his palmares, he has drummed on albums by hugh laurie, robert plant and alison krauss, the late allen toussaint and joe henry to name but a few. however, he was relating a story from his early years at berklee college during which, on returning to his locker, he discovered that someone had nicked his nice, shiny five-piece tama drumset.

while somewhat distraught at this state of affairs, he figured that he simply needed drums and cymbals of any hue and cry to continue making music, a situation suitably remedied by a friend of his lending him a rather beat-up old set that he had no further need of. unlike many a contemporary drummer, bellerose has no cymbal or drum endorsement, preferring to play upon a range of vintage drumsets including an all-wood slingerland rolling bomber set from the war years when metal was rationed and even the tension nut boxes were fashioned from rosewood.

there are few of us in the percussive milieu who would have taken such a pragmatic and philosophical view of a similar situation. i have two very nice american drumsets with attendant quality cymbals and i'm enough of a snob to have offered to lend a set of those cymbals to the high school students sitting their drumming higher grade prelim, because to me, those on the school kit have much in common with dustbin lids.