Life in Music inspired by Joe Henry

zondag 29 april 2018

Filming/Taking pictures during concerts

It was during Lizz Wright’s concert in Brussels that I really got confronted again with the consequences of smartphones during live concerts. For example, in the past I’ve seen people checking their social media during concerts, but it is another thing that I’d like to talk about this time:

Taking pictures or filming during a concert. 

The thing that frustrated me the most was the filming, or taking snapshots using a flashlight. If I’m at a concert I’d like to focus on the stage, not the seats around me. Because that’s what the flashlight does. It illuminates a huge part of the audience and takes away your focus from what’s happening on stage. If someone is sitting in front of you, and is filming, you are distracted by that little screen. What people do during a show is not really my business, but the person in front of me was even showing the clip he just filmed to his companion sitting next to him, and because of that, they completely missed out on the song being performed live in front of us, and it was affecting my experience of the concert. There you had Lizz Wright, singing ‘Grace’… live. You will never be able to have such an experience looking at a screen. You just have to witness it completely live and feel what that does to you!

I decided a while ago, not to do it anymore. Yes, you read it correctly: ‘Decided’ and ‘not anymore’. Indeed, I used to do it occasionally. What was the reason I did it? It turned out to be a question much easier to ask, then to answer. It really got me thinking. I concluded that I did it because, on social media, I liked (and still like) to share my experience of concerts, and with that, I wanted to offer some visuals with it. I am one of those ‘smartphone less’ dinosaurs, so I took a small camera with me, that fitted in my jacket or in my backpack. I was conscience, in advance, that I was going to take pictures. I didn’t do it with every concert. The one concert was dearer to me than the other, and that triggered me to take pictures. So there lays the reason I completely stopped doing it.

If the concert is so dear to me? Why don’t I simply enjoy it? Why am I occupying myself with that device, instead of just enjoying the concert? I truly have a much bigger experience of a concert if I just look at it and am not trying to look at a camera to check the frame.

So that’s me dealing with this issue. I didn’t evolve to stopping with it, I actually decided it at a certain moment. You will read a little further that there still are sometimes events that I am taking pictures. It’s always work related, so I’m not really enjoying a night out, but I’m actually at work. I’m not saying this to look for excuses, I just want to paint the entire picture.

Filming or taking photos during shows is something that happens very commonly these days, but not everywhere. For example in theater it is generally accepted not to use a camera. But theater is, like concerts, a live stage art. Why does it work there, and not in all stage arts? During Classical concerts there is also a bigger tendency to keep the device in your pocket. Is it because these are more formal events? Is it because we learned in school, with such arts, that you should focus on the play in order to experience it all, and not distract artists or other audience members? No one ever told us, the same counts for more popular shows. I think it does.
So why do we do it during concerts? Reflecting on that, the following possibilities came to mind.

  • You want to give the opportunity to others, who were not there, to have a glimpse of the show. This is something that already existed long before smartphones and social media were invented. Bootlegs have been made ever since music could be recorded. The differences with the past are that bootlegs used to be rare, because not everyone had the gear, and you really had to do it sneaky. If you got caught, you had no taping. Also, the rest of the audience weren’t distracted by it, since it happened sneakingly.
  • Perhaps you just want to take a bit of the experience home with you, to re-live it in the following days. Personally, I don’t think that is possible. You missed an experience during the show, and never can re-live it afterwards.
  • It could be a reflex. We are so used to doing everything with our phone. From the moment we wake up, we are almost constantly involved with it. It becomes hard to leave it in your pocket. It feels weird not using it.
  • Perhaps you were asked by someone else to take footage for them. A position where I find myself sometimes in. Although I’m not a professional photographer, at that moment I’m making work-related pictures. The organization is in these cases informed of what and why I’m taking pictures. But I am aware that I probably am distracting other people.
  • Maybe you just want to show your friends, and the world that you were there, and they missed out.
  • Quite possibly there are other reasons as well….

 How do we need to deal with this phenomenon? I don’t know. The one audience member is more sensitive to it than another, and the same goes for artists. Some artists integrate the use of devices in their shows, others don't want you to use it. An artist can address his audience about it when he prefers that you don’t do it. As an audience member it is tougher to speak up about it. You have a slight chance to piss of the ones who are filming, and completely ruin the evening for yourself, and everyone around you.

There is another element about it. Now I only spoke of shooting yourself, but what with clips you find on the internet, clips other people made? I use them on social media, even on this blog. I am aware these are made in a fashion I just criticized. In a way, these are all documentations of something that happened. You have the ‘official information’ coming from live DVD’s, professional photographers, official live streams…. And then you have the ‘unofficial footage’, and that can also be worth it.
There are events that happen, maybe one time, maybe only in 1 continent, … where no ‘official’ footage exists. (or is released). Yes, then I’m happy someone else filmed it.
Sometimes someone filmed in such a specific angle or view, you can witness something closely that you were normally never able to see: A solo from a musician, an unforeseen moment,…. Yes, then I’m happy someone filmed that.

When I went to see Jack White perform a few years ago, the audience was asked not to take pictures or film during the show. There would be enough good pictures of every show on his website. Off course that didn’t stop people doing it, so now he doesn’t want people bringing their smartphones. I don’t see how you are going to organize that on such a scale. He is sensitive to it, and I think we should respect that. But what would make it possible for people to keep the device in their pocket? …. I don’t know.

All I want to ask or give as a reflection on this phenomenon are 2 things: If you like to film, don’t use flashlights. They are extremely annoying. And secondly, I’d like you to ask yourself: “Why am I filming/taking pictures?  Is it really worth it for me, or others? "

I hope to see all of you at concerts and enjoy it together. And yes, it is true, if you got to shoot something that shows us something of exceptional value, then I’m glad you shot it.

Note: Brussels venue Ancienne Belgique (where I saw Lizz Wright) participated in an audience survey.
  • 30% of AB visitors would welcome a ban on filming with smartphones was 1 of the results.

zaterdag 28 april 2018

Bremenconcert February 10, 2018 is available

(Brussels, 5 February 2018)

On February 10, Joe performed in Bremen, Germany. It was recorded for a radiobroadcast.  The concert was part of the tour to promote his latest album 'Thrum'.

The radiobroadcast is now available as a download.
you can find it on German blog 'Radiohoerer' . the 'Link Zur Datei' leads you to the file. I downloaded it, and faced no problem at all. 'Radiohoerer' seems to be a really interesting blog. It has a lot of great livemusic as a stream or download.
Great discovery !

Anyway, in my humlbe opinion this is an excellent recording, of a great show with stellar performances of several songs. It brings back memories to when I went to see him, although I think his playing in Bremen sounds a little more gentle than what I witnessed in Brussels. No critique at all, every concert is different, and I wished I also could have attended this one. 

Playlist :
from this year's tour :
Trampoline / Lead me on / After the War / Climb / Believer / Now and Never / Sold / Odetta / Our Song / God only knows / Grave Angels / Short man's room / Hungry / Keep us in song / Eyes out for You /// Love is Enough / For the Good Times
From his 2014 concert in Bremen : 
Invisible Hour / The Man I keep Hid / You can't fail me now / Monkey(cut off)

But I went to see him perform in Brussels, this was my experience.

woensdag 18 april 2018

Grace, Lizz Wright & Brussels

Yesterday morning, the newspaper reported of a Gay-couple who have been attacked in the center of Brussels on Monday night.... I hope I didn't scare you away now, but I wanted to start with the knowledge that I'm not naive in it all. We live in a world we all have things we don't understand. A group of people don't want to open up for things they don't understand, and within that group there are people who want to aggressively scare away, the things they don't understand. A few months ago, there was a wave of organized vandalism in the city. It wasn't the first and it won't be the last reporting of such things. No, I'm not naive in it...

But on Monday evening I was in that same Brussels to go and see Lizz Wright perform. I saw a different reality. It was real because I witnessed it, so it's also reality. One that doesn't make it to the newspapers.

It started when I stepped off the train and found my way towards the exit. A refugee addressed me, like he probably tries to address as many people as he can to try to make his family make it through today (to start with). As a farewell he said: “Thank you for looking at me."
With that 1 sentence he explained the most important thing when we don't understand each other. Don't turn away, open up, listen and look at each other.

I had some time before the concert started, so I strolled through the center in that beautiful evening with spring in the air. I witnessed a community full of different people. Ethnical, religious, interests, .... But everyone enjoyed the evening together, made fun together, listened to music and performed together. 2 cyclists bumped in to each other and people cared, helped and comforted. There was no fear at all in the air. Those of you who have been following me a bit know that a couple of years ago I wrote with a different tone when I was here. Also, the center of Brussels is a huge construction site currently. The 4-lane street, that cut the center in 2 is being adjusted to walking space, with water and green elements in it. Small narrow stairs to the subway station are opened and widened. Big ugly, old, empty buildings are taken down, and suddenly beautiful places are connected again. Light is coming in.

It was a wonderful appetizer for Lizz Wright's concert. She presented us a concert of older songs, and songs from her latest album Grace. She opened with 'Barley', followed by an amazing rendition of Neil Young's 'old man'. The evening went from one fantastic experience to the other. What an amazing voice she has. And!... What a talented band accompanied her. Chris Bruce on Guitar, Bobby Sparks on the Keys, Nicholas D'Amato on Bass and Brannen Temple on Drums.
The only thing I missed were those wonderful backing vocals on songs like 'Grace' and 'Seems I'm never tired of loving you'. Wouldn't it be amazing if suddenly a curtain opened behind her, and an entire Gospel Choir was there? The place would have exploded!  A well filled Ancienne Belgique embraced her and the band, and had the most wonderful evening. Several people tried to take that feel home with them on their smartphone, but we all know that is impossible. What we did all hoped for as being possible was that the concert lasted longer. But hey,... the time spent can't be taken away.

What more can I say, then the honest fact that I hope everyone can witness such an evening,


dinsdag 17 april 2018

All the things that I did & All the things that I didn't do

By extending their language to a band and reimagining the boundaries around what acoustic-centered two-part harmony can sound like, "All The Things That I Did and All The Things That I Didn't Do" carries listeners down a river and out into the open sea.(ANTI records)

'All the things that I did & All the things that I didn't do' is the title of the upcoming new release by the Milk Carton Kids. It will be released on June 29, 2018 on ANTI records. 
Today they launched their renewed website, with this info. You can pre-order the album on the site.

According to ANTI recordsit's not just the addition of the band here that creates something new. National politics left Ryan feeling disoriented and mournful. Pattengale’s relationship of seven years ended, and he found himself unexpectedly needing surgery for cancer. (He is cancer-free now, and accidentally broke his cigarette habit in the process.)
Though they didn't approach the new album conceptually, a theme of shattered realities began to emerge out of the songs that sparked to life. Recent events provided a bruising background for the record, yet the project is somehow bigger than any personal grief. Two-part harmonies ride acoustic guitars high above the haunting landscape created by the presence of the band, as if Americana went searching for a lost America.
If previous Milk Carton Kids productions recall plaintive missives from a faraway hometown, these songs sound more intimate, like a tragic midnight knock at your front door.
The album ricochets between familiar styles and experimental songs. "Just Look at Us Now" rejects easy sentiment, suggesting that hindsight only reveals how badly things have turned out. "It's a terrifying place to be," says Ryan, "when everything seemed to be going fine." The stunned "Mourning in America" holds up an atmospheric Polaroid from the Midwest—as Ryan explains it, "what it feels like to live in a country you thought you knew."

They already have 1 song for you to discover on their Spotify page.

Make sure to read at NPR's 'all things considered'  why they released this 10+minutes song, which is epic in length in comparison to their previous work.
The article also learns us, that the album will feature 12 songs. Other songs include :

one of their biggest departures, "Nothing Is Real," neither of The Milk Carton Kids plays guitar. Describing the recording session for it, Pattengale says, "That was one of the days we had maybe ten people in studio. The way that I connected to the song was by playing it on the piano. When we were in studio and having trouble figuring out the angle, I thought, 'Why don't we use the piano, and assign each person a part of what I'm playing?' That song used my piano part almost as if we were writing an arrangement."
Inside the theme of shattered realities that wires the album together, even elliptical songs somehow become direct. The lyrics for "Blindness," when set to music, acquired an unnerving undertone.
Western influences on "Younger Years" gallop over a snaking clarinet and under vocals looking for something to salvage from sorrow ("Love inside our hearts / is the only kind of savior we've been sent"). "You Break My Heart" features Pattengale's solo vocals. Harmony turns "I've Been Loving You" into visceral grief. "For much of my life I've avoided that kind of intimacy and immediacy in my own writing," says Pattengale, "but you have to leave your blood on the page. It's wonderful, but it can also be a terrifying thing."
"Big Time" brings the energy of their live performances into the studio. "The goal was actually to record this one with a string band," Ryan says. "So everybody was in the room together. Lyrically, this one deals in the most hopeful way with some of the themes of the record."
The atmosphere on much of the album is both lush and spare, like waking up at night to find yourself on an ice floe that has drifted far from shore. "A Sea of Roses" traces its narrator's burial wishes, while "Unwinnable War" went through a metamorphosis as it developed. "If these are the sides we're staking out, no one side or the other can win," says Ryan. "We lose sight of the damage the battle does."
The title track, "All the Things…" presents a ledger of the countless tiny moments in a relationship from the vantage point of its passage into memory. ("The story of how the end came to be. How you became you. How I became me.")
(ANTI press release)

 NPR has some words from Joe as well.

  Joe told me(NPR) in an email that he's "been witness to the pan of their shared camera from wide cultural observance to a tighter focus of introspection. Even when gesturing broadly to our national traumas ('Mourning In America,' one fine example). And as they have sharpened their focus, Kenneth and Joey have expanded their sound — opened the fences to invite in fresh characters who throw shade and new depths of color, placing smaller stories within broader frames — acknowledging greater range while amplifying the intimacy inherent to their essential duet.
Joe Henry went on to say that there is "nary a better example of this balance than 'One More For the Road.' We feel the storm gathering. But though this road is dark and perilous, it doesn't go on forever."

And to be complete : 1 more musician is mentioned, that you can't find on yesterday's post.

maandag 16 april 2018

The Milk Carton Kids & Band

A while ago I already posted some little insights on the fact, that a new album by The Milk Carton Kids, produced by Joe, featured also other people then Kenneth and Joey alone.

Over the last few weeks they teased us a bit with short clips on their social media. Today they gave us a small video from in the studio, presenting us everyone around.

We can see :
Paul Kowert from the punch brothers : Double Bass
Dennis Crouch : Double Bass
Russ Pahl : Pedal Steel Guitar, Mandolin and Electric Guitar
Brittany Haas : Fiddle and Mandolin
Pat Sansone from WILCO : Hammond Organ, Mellotron and Piano
Nat Smith : Cello, Octave Mandolin and Hammond Organ
Jay Bellerose : Drums
Levon Henry : Reeds

And off Course : Joe Henry with Ryan Freeland behind the Desk .
In my earlier post we also saw Lindsay Loubelly singing with them. On the musicstand in front of her, a song entitled 'Big Time'.

We are expecting 'The Milk Carton Kids + band'. That's for sure now.

maandag 9 april 2018

Bremen concert to be aired on April 14.

Joe's concert in Bremen last February was recorded for radio Bremen. (They also recorded his concert when he toured with Invisible Hour a few years back)

You can listen to it on saturday, April 14th at 22:00h (European time).

You have on the webpage a button 'Jetzt anhören' . That is the livestream of the radiostation. So click that next staurday at 22h.

vrijdag 6 april 2018

The Amy Helm album is on the Horizon.

So far, we had little insights on the upcoming Amy Helm Album that Joe produced.

Poughkeepsie journal gives us the following info.

Helm’s second annual Woodshed Residency Tour comes as she is gearing up to release a new record produced by musician Joe Henry. The album is scheduled for release in 2018. 
Helm and Henry during their own performances dig deep. They share with their audiences a nuanced framework of artistic expression that roars with passion.

Underscoring it all is musical momentum that relies on sharp attention to detail. A project that features Henry and Helm should offer many dimensions. And you can get a sense of it all beginning this weekend.

Update :Timesunion tells us, it will be released in September.

On her new album, slated for a September release, Helm placed control in the hands of Joe Henry, a producer noted for his work with Billy Bragg, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Aaron Neville and Allen Toussaint.
"I wanted this to really be a Joe Henry record, so I was very happy to hand it over" Helm said. "He has his own environment he creates sonically. I was drawn to how specifically connected he is with the singer; he has a way of letting a voice ring.
"We did the album in a very different way," she said, noting that its 13 songs were recorded live with no overdubs over the course of four days. "None of this was familiar; it wasn't the Barn, it wasn't Woodstock. It was a completely new thing at a studio in L.A. It challenged me to dig in."