A blog for Joe Henry fans

woensdag 23 mei 2018

Joan Baez, Brussels. 21 May 2018

When Joan Baez made her breakthrough, and became one of the important people in music, I wasn’t even  born yet. As a matter of fact, by the time I was 10, There was already a 2nd autobiography. Yep,  I’m just a 41 year old kiddo.  Off course, over the years you learn about her, what she stands for, and how important she is, and so there I sat Monday evening in Brussels BOZAR to see her perform. Unlike the most of the audience, I didn’t have a long history with her Music, or some kind of nostalgia. But if there is 1 thing the evening has proven, it is that you don’t need that history to enjoy her show.
At 77 (you read that correctly) she can sing beautifully, her guitar playing is so clear and she stands on that stage with strength, integrity and grace. A lot of today’s and tomorrow’s popular acts can only humbly bow in respect for that. If you see her perform, you understand why she is the legend, why she is that statue she became.

Joan entered the stage on her own for a few songs in a ‘Woman and guitar’ style. After a few songs she got backed up by, what she called, her Big Band consisting of Dirk Powell on strings and Piano and her son Gabriel on Percussion. She embraced her audience with warmth, and even put herself in a more difficult situation by trying to address the audience regularly in French. She sometimes had to think and search for her words, but it showed us how comfortable she is on stage. Most artists wouldn’t dare to do that, I’m sure. The audience appreciated this big time, and the first time they heard here speak French, it was welcomed with a big applause. It even got better when a music stand was brought on stage, and she asked us to wish her luck. And then she gave us a wonderful version of George Brassens’s 'Chanson pour L’Auvergnat’. A song dedicated to people who help out those who are treated as outcasts.

But it wasn’t over with baffling us in understanding our culture of French Chansons. As a matter of fact, it seems it baffled her as well. Near the end of show, during a 1th (of 3) encores, she started singing ‘Le temps des cerises’, a song dating back to 1866 written by Jean Baptiste Clément. She didn’t say what she was going to sing, she simply asked us to help her out. When she sang the first few words, she literally had to step back 2 steps to take in the overwhelming sound of a sold-out Bozar singing along immediately.  It was no surprise to me that something like that would happen. If I want my mother to sing a long with something, I just have to put on this song, and she’ll start singing it from th heart. This is part of our cultural Heritage. The song was inspired by a trip of Clément in Flanders and coming across a house surrounded by cherry trees. It was a controversial song at the time, since it was also interpreted as a metaphor for the ongoing Revolution happening in Paris at the time.

Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises
Et gai rossignol et merle moqueur
Seront tous en fête 
(When we sing of cherry time
and the happy nightingale and the mockingbird/mocking blackbird
all be celebrating)

Monday evening was an evening full of old songs and new songs from her latest album. We received a wonderful ‘The President sang Amazing Grace’, and an impressive ‘Whistle down the wind’. I say impressive, because since I heard Joan Baez do this, I identify this song completely with her. As if T. Waits wrote it for her, before he even knew it. Those who know me personally, understand this is a big thing for me to say.
From the latest album, the song ‘Another World’ originally from ANOHI, proved how songs still can grow after they have been recorded. In resemblance with the album version, this was a much stronger performance. The soundman put a reverb on the microphone, so you’d litteraly could hear the words disappearing. (Or where that reflections coming from the acoustics of the room ? I was sitting under a balcony.) Anyway, it fits perfectly with this song. “I need another world, this one’s nearly gone" she sings. It’s a song originally about taking care of this earth, because we are destroying it. But when someone sings it at this moment in a life, it easily becomes a song about mortality.
Diamonds and Rust’, a song about her relationship with Bob Dylan was performed as a duet with a fantastic strong voice by Grace Stumberg. The lighting was set, so that we could see 2 huge shadows in the back. It was like the song was sung by 2 ghosts from the past. It only strengthened the already strong version of this song. At a moment Joan started laughing out loud, and explained the need to change the lyrics from ‘10 years ago’ to ‘50 years ago’.
The entire show was build up with strong performances of the songs, very early on we received 'Deportee (Planewreck at Los Gatos)' (Guthrie) A song about deported Mexicans, who’s plane never made it to Mexico. They had no names, they where just called Deportees. It got the house quiet, and I must admit, when it was done I kept myself from standing up to applaud for it. It’s a song from 70 years ago, but still so relevant. Especially over here, where we live in a hardened atmosphere against refugees. A couple of days ago a van full of refugees, was shot by the police. A 2 year old child died…..

“They where only refugees”

This is an atmosphere that hangs in the air with a big part of the population around here, and it angers and frightens me. I guess it also did with a lot of others in the audience. Only for that song already I thank you Joan Baez.

'Imagine' from John Lennon, was the first encore and became a sing a long. A few more songs to go  and then she came back a last time and signalled us she needed to go to sleep and so did we. 

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living in peace

There are so man reasons to thank her for this concert. Everyone will have their reason. It is clear now, that no matter if you’re old or young, this is a must see concert. So go out and enjoy her music live while you can. Because this is her :

Fare thee well tour.


Setlist : 
There but Fortune / God is God / Farewell, Angelina / Whistle Down the Wind / Silver blade / It’s all over now, Baby Blue / Deportee (Planewreck at Los Gatos) / The things that we are made of / Diamonds & Rust /  Me and Bobby McGee / Another World / Chanson pour l’Auvergnat / The President sang Amazing Grace / Joe Hill / Seven Curses / Silver Dagger / The House of the Rising Sun // Imagine / Le Temps des cerises // The Boxer // Swing Low Chariot

zaterdag 19 mei 2018

'Love in Wartime' : what it does to me

In my last post about this album I didn’t give you a huge description of this album. You had to discover it yourself.

I wrote that after I went to see Birds of Chicago in Den Bosch. That’s where I purchased the album, and I listened to it a lot since then. You still must discover the album yourself, but I want to give you here my personal reception of this album. What it means to me.

The title of the album ‘Love in Wartime’ is a very accurate choice for a title, and after you have heard the title track, there is no way that love didn’t reach you. It is such a warm song. The album is also full of musically strong songs. 'Lodestar', for example, has a wonderful build up, and 'Baton Rouge' is a worthy praise of this city. It’s a place full of history and art, but at the same time it has its social difficulties to deal with. When you get to see BOC, this is 1 of those songs that will lift you up. It will make you start to dance and dream. Hearing this song live, is going to be one of your long-lasting memories.

The album’s first words are making sure you understand what you are going to receive in this album. In a nice up-tempo 'Never go back' we are urged to act now, and start to love. 
“I’ve come here today
To give you the news
There’s time for it all
But no time to lose”
So let's get on with that. 

'Try' is 1 of those songs that show us what great singers BOC are. It sounds like a profoundly cry-out to ask us to find that lost spark in ourselves. That spark that gave us the energy to fulfill our dreams. Dreams of a better world. Somehow down the road we gave up on that.
"I don’t think that I can carry
This heavy load all on my own
But man if you’re still in game
You and I can carve our names
In hidden caves and giant oaks"

Vocally, Musically and lyrically they touch you when you hear it, and I’m sure we all can see that spark after hearing this song. Do we answer it, or do we ignore it ?  There are so many people I personally like to address this song to.

"you used to swim against the tide
Now you use your intelligence to justify giving in"

'Roisin Starchild' is maybe my favorite song of the album. First of all it’s another example of what a great singer Allison is. But even more important is the notion that I can’t think of another song that is so heartbreaking and at the same time extremely hope-giving. How do you do that ? It’s a gift if you can write and sing like that. There is not 1 time I listened to it, without becoming a little emotional.

And then we end at the core of this album. ‘We need a superlover’. And we all can be that. The song gently rocks you like a little baby. But it doesn’t rock you asleep. It rocks you into a ………

 you know the answer.


woensdag 9 mei 2018

Heath Cullen, Jim Keltner & Joe

'The Industry Observer' published an overview of Australian fundings for Musical projects.

One of them stated :

Singer songwriter Heath Cullen receives ...  to record a new album in LA with Grammy award winning producer Joe Henry and drummer Jim Keltner .

Heath Cullen, was the opening act for Joe's 2014 Australian tour. 
and for Jim Keltner, is there anyone he hasn't worked with yet ? Check his credits at allmusic.  He was for example a musician on Joe's own 'Tiny Voices'.

Some info on 'The Industry Observer'.
The Industry Observer is a B2B news and analysis tool for the Australasian industry.
Helping record labels, artist managers, peak industry bodies and rights-holders navigate the local and international markets with honest, insightful content, The Industry Observer is just as accessible to the local songwriter with international ambitions as it is to a major label chairman.
The Industry Observer was founded in January 2017 by Seventh Street Media, Australia’s largest music media publisher with Tone Deaf, The Brag, Don’t Bore Us and J Play under its umbrella.

I must say, I am a bit disappointed they headline it as 'Free Money for...'.
A lot of people are going to work for that money, and that's just to start with...


donderdag 3 mei 2018

Love in War

Today, ‘Love in War’, the new album by Birds of Chicago is released. It follows the EP 'American Flowers', which was released last November.
If you loved their 2016 Album ‘Real Midnight’, you have no other option then to continue their story. Where ‘Real Midnight’ was Chapter 1, 'American Flowers' is the last page preparing you for Chapter 2 : 'Love in War'.

'American Flowers' is musically close to Real Midnight, but addresses already the thoughts from 'Love in War'.
‘Real Midnight’ showed us the need to look after each other, in darker times. ‘Love in War’ has this idea as a starting point. It’s the continuing saga. We live in troubled times, and sometimes we don’t see the love, but it is there. It is people like BOC that show us this.

The song American Flowers is already a seed for that. In true Woody Guthrie style it shows us the good things that are happening in the world.  The things that we pay too little attention to, because it are only the problems which we discus.

I have seen American flowers all across this land
From the banks of the Shenandoah, along the Rio Grande
Do not fear the winter blowing in the hearts of men
I have seen American flowers they will bloom again

Leonard Cohen told us the light comes in through the cracks, BOC show us the flowers growing out of dry land.

Alright Alright is a song that sounds like a spring day, and you’re part of a fun dancing street parade. A song for our Children, their future, a future that our generation is preparing for them. How can and should they take it further ? If we make it alright, then they will be alright.
The EP ends with Allison spoiling us with the gift of her voice, and proofs she is ready to become a great French-speaking Jazz singer.

You can feel it near and far
It fades the moon and blinds the stars
That’s a Super lover
Are you a Super lover ?

'Love in War' begins with a song that expresses the urgency to love, but maybe the most important song on the album is Super lover. What do we need to rise above our current troubled society ? We need a Super lover, Something we can all be.

You know.... I could give you my song-to-song interpretation of it all, but you must discover it yourself. It’s a story about love and life. And it’s packed in a work of Art. I really love the cover design of the album. In fact : I already regret not buying the Vinyl version, for the simple reason to put that stunning artwork on display in the house for every visitor to enjoy.

They already know this, I'm sure of that, but we never say it enough. I really love Birds of Chicago. As a band, but also each of them as a human being. They are the most warmest people you can imagine, and they are currently touring in Europe. I went to see them and had a wonderful evening. An evening full of comfort, laughter, dancing,… Life.  A concert in 2 parts. Before the break, they spread a musical blanket all over us and made us feel at home. And now that we felt comfortable, a more joyeus 2nd part of the show entertained us all. And even lifted us from our chairs.  When the houselights went on again, I saw happy people, going back in the world with renewed spirits.


This evening Birds of Chicago have 1 more show in Belgium, and then it is of to Ireland, the UK and Scotland.

dinsdag 1 mei 2018

'The Nomad' by Guy Pearce

'The Nomad' is the upcoming album by Guy Pearce produced by Joe Henry. It was recorded in the summer of 2016. 

'The Nomad' was an very personal and raw experience for me. It came as a result of my marriage ending in January of 2015. After going on the road to tour ‘Broken Bones’ in February I then started work on new material. As much as it delves into the melancholy at times it does allow for that beautiful ‘silver lining’ that keeps us going in life. It was such a joy to collaborate with my old pal Joe Henry at ‘United Recording’ in LA. What an amazing and historic studio, and working with the musicians Joe invited in was a truly inspiring and uplifting process.

Yesterday Guy Pearce announced that it will be released on July 6th.

On his website you can find the tracklist, lyrics, Credits,...

1 year before recording this album, Guy already shared a version of the titletrack with us.

To celebrate the release of this album, Guy will perform a one-off intimate show at the Playhouse Theatre in Melbourne this 8 July.  tickets