A blog for Joe Henry fans

woensdag 9 oktober 2019

Joe's 115th Dream at Big Ears Knoxville

Well the last I heard of Arab he was stuck on the side of a whale
That was married to the deputy sheriff of the jail

During Big Ears festival in Knoxville (26/03 - 29/03) next spring, Joe will follow Bob Dylan's world and bring us his own 115th Dream.

The 115th dream is a song by Dylan in which we follow a surreal dream about a sailor in service of 'Captain Arab' . The (also) satirical song takes us on a voyage through America, with references such as Moby Dick, the discovery of America,...

115th Dream from takefive on Vimeo.

Knowing this, that evening could go all directions, but if it will be as fun as Bob's lyrics, you will have a great night !

Big Ears itself states it has asked Joe to put together a Dream band. Joe assembled his band and he wil be performing with Jason Moran, Marc Ribot, Jay Bellerose, David Piltch and Levon henry.

Joe names it his 115th Dream... I'll leave you with your own conclusions for that one...

The exact date of Joe's show has not been anounced yet, but I assume it will be in the beginning of the festival, since Jason Moran (according to his itineray) is playing over here in Belgium  March 29.

The last time Joe played at Big Ears was also together with Marc Ribot. Joe also wrote an essay for a photobook on the festival. A book made by Kate Joyce. I ordered it last year. It's a must have if you love music, festivals and photography, even if you've never been specifically to Big Ears (like me).

Anyway, I already love the idea : bring it to Europe !

zaterdag 28 september 2019

The Gospel according to Water

I guess those, who know already the way to my writings over here, already received the exciting news a few days ago. Don't worry; I did to, but Time is a lion.... So only now, I can sit and write.

Joe has officially announced a new album entitled 'The Gospel according to Water', to be released on November 15th. 

Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram

COME NOVEMBER Announcing a new album: The Gospel According To Water Come 15 November, I will be releasing a new album ––my 15th studio offering as a solo act. The album is called The Gospel According To Water. It was recorded over two days this past June ––and fairly blind-sided me, when I thought I was merely making reference demos of thirteen new songs ahead of forgetting them. All but two of these songs were written between Valentines and Fathers Days; all having flowered from the black earth of recent experience ––namely a cancer diagnosis late last fall that left me reeling ––though, as well, set into motion many wild blessings and positive shifts in my life, along with an unprecedented songwriting flurry. With only a handful of friends playing in support, I entered the studio and tore through these songs with determination and joyful abandon, then went home. I had let nothing clutter or distract me from their essential and true heart; and upon waking the morning after, I understood that something significantly more had transpired ––that the songs as articulated had sparked an ember that somehow remained bright and alive before me, moving beyond my expectations. I unexpectedly heard the songs as complete, and vividly so; and knew that the casual circumstances had not limited my expression but in fact liberated me from the cloying aim for posterity that can make weighty any session, and landed me instead in a place both unencumbered by the past and unattached to futures. Though they have all grown out of darkness, I don’t believe any of these songs themselves to be “dark” in nature, nor about the circumstance that prompted their discovery. In them, I hear the re-accessing of my imagination and its greater invitation; hear deep gratitude, and a compassion toward self that I don’t always possess; an optimism I did not know I’d allowed to flourish. These recordings are raw and wirey and spare because the songs insisted they be. But I believe them to be as wholly realized ––as “produced” as anything I’ve touched, as well as being deeply and fundamentally romantic: in love with life, even when that life founders and threatens to disappear; lustfully a
Een bericht gedeeld door Joe Henry (@joehenrymusic) op

A first single has also been released

Bloom : a beautiful song about when we are faced with a new reality, and seeing it as such. for Joe facing a cancer diagnosis last year.  "To carry on from here...."
(on a side note : The intro reminds me a lot of  'Lead me on' .)
I am deeply moved and humble seeing how Joe faced his new reality. With such Grace, strenght and humanity.

On Joe's official website you can pre-order the album in various formats. If you place your order before November 1st, it will be a signed copie. So Joe : start exercising your hands and wrists !

But that's not all : You can also buy a few signed photoprints made by  Jacob Blickenstaff  during Joe's concert in L.A. last July. (I have my favorite picture, not simply for Joe, but more for its total esthetics. A true artits you are, Mr Blickenstaff).

And off course : A new album, new songs,... they long to be performed live. So on the day of release (November 15th) you can hear Joe at Largo at the Coronet, L.A. performing these songs,.. And I'm sure many more.

Some more details : 

tracklist : 

Famine Walk
The Gospel According To Water
Orson Welles
Green Of The Afternoon
In Time For Tomorrow (Funeral For Sorrow)
The Fact Of Love
Book Of Common Prayer
Gates Of Prayer Cemetery #2
Salt And Sugar
General Tzu Names The Planets For His Children
Choir Boy

Musicians :  
Joe Henry – vocals, acoustic and electric guitar
Levon Henry – tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet
John Smith – acoustic guitar
Patrick Warren – upright piano and additional keys
Special guests: David Piltch – electric bass / Allison Russell and JT Nero (Birds of Chicago) – backing vocals

I truly am looking forward to this new album. Maybe more then ever, learning the backgroundstory of how this album came to be.

Humbly I greet you,
Much love, and more than Ever...

dinsdag 17 september 2019

AmericanaFest award show 2019

Joe was one of the many musicians (Brandi Carlile, Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, I’m With Her, Delbert McClinton, Lori McKenna, Maria Muldaur, John Prine, Amanda Shires and Mavis Staples, along with present-day buzz generators Jade Bird, Mark Erelli, Ruston Kelly, J.S. Ondara, Our Native Daughters, Erin Rae, The War and Treaty, Yola...) during this years Americana award show.

He performed, in Duet with Rodney Crowell, 'Girl from the North Country'. At the end of the show he participated in an 'all-artist' sing-along of  'I'll fly away' 

The award show will be broadcasted on November 23rd as an episode of Austin City Limits on PBS.

woensdag 21 augustus 2019

Anna Tivel discussing Joe Henry's Civilians

Episode 52 of RecordsRevisitedPodcast discussed Joe's Civilians.

The guys (Ben and Wayne) are joined by singer songwriter Anna Tivel to discuss "Civilians" by Joe Henry. Plenty of other discussion like Voodoo Donuts, Fluff and Gravy, Minneapolis, Americana Festival, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Mays, Bonnie Raitt, and trying to decipher Joe's lyrics. 

Song by song Ben, Wayne and Anna discuss Joe's music and lyrics. I was curious for the discussion, especially when I heard Ben didn't connect to Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones.!? (I mean, Really ?)   
During the podcast they give a score to each song, which  creates a top 5 from these 3 people at the end of the episode. I'm personally not into giving scores to songs. How one responds to songs is a verry personal thing. In the podcast, they also admit sometimes : "I love it more, then my score shows." or "I feel bad about my score.". That makes it even more strange for me. But that's me.... 
Don't let that hold you back for reliving this album.

1 of the discussion was about "3 dogs at a party on a boat at night"... About that :

Allthough the discussion only starts after approx. 30 minutes, make sure to listen from the beginning. You will get to know Anna Tivel and her work. 


zondag 18 augustus 2019

6 September Largo at the coronet

On september 6th Joe will be performing (again) in Largo at the coronet (L.A.).

Allthough, on his official website, it is placed under Solo Performances, we received word that this will not be the case.

Joe announced through Social Media an entire band line up.

Those of you who will be going will get on their plate (besides Joe) : Patrick Warren, David Piltch, Levon Henry, John Smith and.... 'another guest too tall to mention'.

Patrick, David and Levon are regulars in Joe's band, and also John is no stranger when it comes to performing with Joe.
John toured with Joe Henry and Lisa Hannigan in 2012. In 2013 I have seen them on stage in Dublin (together with Gavin Glass, Ross Turner and Lisa Hannigan) and over the following I am in doubt, but I think John also performed with Joe when opening for Mavis Staples last year? You will need to correct me if I am wrong in that last one.

John Smith, Joe Henry and Lisa Hannigan

And about that tall person.... We'll see.


dinsdag 9 juli 2019

News about the Heath Cullen Album

It's little over 1 year since there was news of Heath Cullen making an album with Joe as producer.
We found out the news because Australian fundings had been made public.It was presented as a project of Heath Cullen with Joe Henry and Jim Keltner.

A few months ago I asked Joe what the prospects where for this project.
Heath and I continue to look for an opportunity of time that works for us both. As well, we collectively have some grand ambition for this project, and a number of very particular people (Jimmy Keltner not least of which) who we are still figuring how to get all in the same room together.

Since a few days, you can help in a crowdfunding campaign (Pozible) to help and make this possible. A record to be called 'River Caught the Flood'.
Remember : Public fundings help, but don't cover it all.

I’ve been working hard to save my pennies for the last couple of years to make this dream come true, and I’m grateful to have the support of The Australia Council of the Arts and Create NSW to help a little ways towards this project.

BUT.. I still need a helping hand from my Pozible people to get this dream together and out into the world. I have no record label to pay for this stuff, no people behind the scenes pulling strings for me. My hope is that enough of you want to hear this record as much as I want to share it with you.
(Heath Cullen)

It seems like Jim Keltner will not be on board, but Joe's regular tribe will be there : Adam Levy, Jay Bellerose, Jennifer Condos, Patrick Warren and Levon Henry.  And I assume Ryan Freeland will be there also... ?
The recordingdate is set : July 15th in L.A.
And to give you and idea, there is a first song co-written between Heath and Joe.

So go and contribute to this. Visit : https://www.pozible.com/project/new-album-produced-by-joe-henry/


dinsdag 18 juni 2019

Sound is the artform

Ever since performances were held indoor, people have been trying to control the light for their shows. But many people consider Adolphe Appia(1862-1928) as the founder of Lighting Design. His approach towards this element of stage play changed the game forever. He didn't use lamps only to make something visible. No, he used the light itself as a scenographic element. It was not (only) the items that were shined upon that were important. It was the light itself... 

Adolphe Appia - Orphée et Euridyce de Glück

“I don’t want to make the same record over and over again,” Rhiannon Giddens said to Rolling Stone Magazine about her latest album with Francesco Turrisi. 'There is no Other' is indeed something else. To say even more : It stands out !

Like all of the new albums I buy, I also listen to this one now mostly in the car. While driving I noticed something peculiar started to happen. When traffic was easy, I noticed there were parts of the drive I hadn't been aware of, because of the music. Well now, for traffic safety it is probably not OK, but it actually proofs how deep I'm sucked into this music.

I don't really listen to these songs separately, don't really focus on the lyrics, but I am deeply absorbed by the music itself. Music that is defined by each sound you hear, and it is so well stored on tape for us. That's amazing...! As if the energy of those days in Dublin has been recorded. With different energy, we probably would have had a different audible experience.Rhiannon and Francesco have created their universe with this album.

Just like Appia made light itself the expression,
...Like poetry can be defining by the words itself
...Like so many dancers with whom the movement itself is more exciting then the total choreography,
 I received an album where each sound is more defining my experience then the whole... I received an album where sound itself is the artform.

It is therefore that this album stands out. I enjoy it the most when there is nothing to distract me. I am going to listen to this one in the dark one day I think, with nothing else but sound, as if it is being played in my living room. It can only be better with Rhiannon and Francesco being really in the room, and nothing distracts me...

'There is No Other' deserves to be performed with the grace of a classical performance, on the program these wonderful songs.

There goes the bell to take your seats. Do you hear it ?
Parterre, seat D22,
and I slight in to my soft red seat, with all these lovely people around me.

Lights go out...
We forget the world around us for a little while.

Total dark, and then there is sound.
Gently a lightbeam becomes visible, and leads me to hands moving on an instrument. Oh to see these subtile human movements.

A beautiful voice from somewhere...
"Ten Thousand Stories..."
And slowly that voice gets an equally beautiful face.
Each expression, movement, note, sigh,... We are in that world.

Rhiannon and Francesco's world.

zondag 16 juni 2019

2017 Americana Music Conference

Did I already post this clip with 2 amazing performances by Rhiannon Giddens ?

It comes from a songwriting workshop she and Joe did together with Dirk Powell at Americanafest 2017.
The clip starts with Joe explaining Rodney Crowell's absence, who was announced to be there also.

Dirk Powell co-produced together with Rhiannon her album 'Freedom Highway'

Here is another clip of them together.

maandag 13 mei 2019

An evening to remember in L.A.

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times

Joe Henry performed last weekend in L.A. .It was a first show, after several cancelled shows these last months.

During the show he revealed that he had to deal with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.It was a period of dealing with the shadows of life.

"You don't examine a shadow by shining a light on it," He explained to his audience. 

As a symbol for it all he put a top hat upside down on stage, while he walked on stage hatless...

“There are times in life when a wind knocks the hat off your head and you have to chase it down the street, dust it off and reset it.” We can read in an article in the LA Times

But he is OK now, his treatment seems to be doing what it was designed for, and during the concert he presented some new songs that came from that period. 

Just like it is for everyone, the news shocked me, and left me also a little numb. I am glad everything is falling back in to place. It is a tougher chapter in this book we call life. I think Joe knows how much warmth I am sending him and everyone close to him. (I truly wished I could have been with all of you at Largo at the Coronet last saturday.)

Paul Zollo, who was in the audience wrote the following : 

Wit Love,

zaterdag 11 mei 2019

My first listen to 'There is no other'

What you will be reading is actually an experiment. I am typing my stream of thoughts during my first listen of this album. I also feel it honest to not edit too much of all this. You will be able to read this within the hour after I have done listening to it. 

This could possibly become one of my strangest posts, but I was thinking, that maybe there is no more honest way to write about a record. 

OK, here we go.  

With high expectations it is only right now that I'm hearing this album for the first time. 'Ten Thousand Voices' has just begun, and I'm immediatly struck by the clarity of the recording. It genuinly sounds like Rhiannon and Francesco are standing in front of me, but strangly and in contrast with that fact : Rhiannon's chanting takes me away in to an imaginary reality.

These songs are taking me, like a Gypsy, around the world. It is the untouchable proof that there is beauty all over the world, and if all this beauty comes together, magic happens. It truly is overwhelming ! If you sit down with this, and listen actively, then "Where are we ?"  Yes, I am sitting in my livingroom, and I know this was recorded in a studio. But these are physical facts. Where in this world is my mind ? A word of advise : Close your eyes when you listen to this record. It will put a spell on you.

I don't know how close these recordings are to the ideas Rhiannon and Francesco had, but it feels so genuine, so true! I believe every sound I hear.

Wow ! 'Pizzica di San Vito' is shaking me out of my mindstream. I didn't see that one coming. It feels like a I'm being pulled into a dance, where my bones are not yet accustomed to. Neither can I resist it. The same thing happens with the piano in 'Black Swan'. I just thought I absorbed that song, and then that Piano happens. It's amazing.

I really love these Arabic influences. You know something ? This album is really hypnotising me. How do you do that Ryan and Joe ? How do you put this atmosphere on tape ? And I know you'll say something like : "It takes musicians like Rhiannon and Francesco, and magic happens !" . But how do you channel that magic in my livingroom, in my mind ?

Oh wait, 'Little Margaret'. The fullness of that sound.... I'm letting it all come in, but that sound is going through my entire body. It has something to do with the frequency of the instrument that is interfering with the vains in my body. It's making them tremble. I already had that with the first single 'I'm on my way'. That song is the authority walking in the room, and you can do nothing else then accept it.

All that is left is Amen in 'He will see you soon'.

What have you recorded back in Ireland ! Were all the elements of th Universe exactly in place those days ? This is amazing !

It's quiet in the room now, but not in me. It doesn't let me go.

maandag 29 april 2019

New Rising Appalachia single (featuring Ani DiFranco)

Listen to this wonderful new single from Rising Appalachia's upcoming album.

The single is entitled : "Speak Out", and was Premiered at brooklynvegan.com

The song features Ani DiFranco.

"Our all-time favorite righteous musician/activist/hero/babe Ani DiFranco textured it perfectly with her anthemic and potent voice, and brought our full vision to life here.”
Rising Appalachia 

Rising Appalachia's album is coming out this friday the 3rd.

Full Tracklist:
I Believe In Being Ready
Speak Out (Featuring Ani DiFranco)
Love Her In The Mornin’
Shed Your Grace (Featuring Trevor Hall)
Make Magic
Sunny Days
Indigo Dance (Featuring Maurice Turner)

donderdag 4 april 2019

Solo @ Largo at the Coronet

After some cancelled shows, it seems Joe has been preparing something special if you live around L.A.

Casting a cold eye on Life,
on Death 

He will be singing old and new songs. A few weeks ago, Joe told me he had written some new songs, so possibly you will be hearing some of those.

Get your tickets....

woensdag 27 maart 2019

Mavis Staples & Friends (in L.A.)

In May there will be 3 special shows to celebrate Mavis Staples'  80th Birthday.

3 Shows : 1 in New York, 1 in Nashville and 1 in L.A.

Joe has announced that he will join the stage in L.A. (May 22nd.)

Joe performed as an opening act for Mavis last August.

vrijdag 22 maart 2019

There is no Other

Oh Yes I'm excited !

Have you heard the first single I'm on my way from the upcoming Rhiannon Giddens &Francesco Turrisi album ?

It sounds impressive !
Really :  Rhiannon, Francesco, Ryan and Joe; What a powerful sound ! song !

I can't wait to hear the rest of the album entitled 'There is no Other'.

It will be released on May 3th, and is already available as a pre-sale.

Listen to a conversation with Rhiannon and Francesco on the label's website : www.nonesuch.com/

And now, you can find me knock-out somewhere in a corner. 

woensdag 20 maart 2019

5 Years of blogging, 5 open endings.

Today, 5 years ago, I started building the Time is a Lion blog. Since I am a sucker for marking such passings of time, I'm offering exactly that in this post.

Looking back at it all, I posted some stories where we don't know how it evolved further on. Stories with an open ending.
It seemed a good moment to try and offer the follow-up story, and there was only one person who could offer such insides..., I'm gratefull Joe was open for the idea.

Will you finally read the closure of these stories ? Who knows, but maybe new doors will open...

  • Signature Guitar.


In oktober 2014 I asked Joe a few questions regarding Vintage Guitars. At the time, there was talk of a 'Joe Henry' signature.

"It is still in the design phase, but Tony (Klassen) and I are working on a model together based on a Regal guitar from the mid-30s, but with variations based on my favorite Gibson guitars –most notably a short-scale."

After that, we never heard anything anymore about it. Today it is totally off the radar. What happened to it ?

post : joe-henry-on-vintage-guitars

JH : This is still an idea that Tony and I kick around; but essentially, I believe he became so busy meeting customer orders (New Era is a one-man operation), that investing time into a new design ––which typically could require the completion of numerous prototypes–– has not yet been feasbile. but I am still open to the process. I love both the guitars he has built for me, and Tony is as well an exceedingly kind man.

  • Vinyl Records

In an interview in 2015 about Vinyl records, Joe explained that 'Invisible Hour' didn't get a Vinyl release because it was too expensive at the time. We are only a few years later, and both 'Thrum' and 'Shine a light' received their Vinyl release, both with an exquisite artwork. What changed in the meantime ?

post : thoughts-on-vinyl

JH : From my vantage point, what has changed the field a bit is that vinyl records are now significantly out-selling CD's; and as more labels and artists are making vinyl availability a priority, more manufacturing facilities are opening their doors, thus making an LP option less expensive, and requiring less lead time to produce. Not very many years ago, there were only a couple of manufacturing plants in the whole world still pressing music into vinyl grooves, and they were servicing every label’s demand, big and small; and as such it was a pricey proposition. It took a great deal of time from delivering a master to receiving vinyl refs for approval. and some of us just couldn’t reconcile the money or the time.

Is there still chance 'Invisible Hour' is going to be released on vinyl ?
JH : I would sincerely love to have issued “invisible hour” on vinyl, and would still like to. I happen to think it is sonically quite a beautiful recording. Ryan Freeland did exactly what I asked him to do: Catch all the beauty in the collisions of string interplay, and the warmth of our friendship ––and let’s not f... any sounds up just for the sake of doing so. let’s be unabashedly beautiful, if we can manage it.Yes, I’d still love to. but given that I released that record on my own label (in partnership with my management 'Work Song'), it would require an investment from my camp of resources that I’d sooner see going to recording a new album.

Frankly ––the lion’s share of songs for such having already been written, I think.

The growth of the 'Vinyl industry' happened indeed quickly these last years. Even your album 'Shufletown' got released on LP.. 

JH : Well, I had absolutely nothing to do with the reissue of ‘shuffletown’ onto vinyl.  In fact, I didn’t know it had happened ––or was even being discussed–– until someone (No idea who that could've been) posted on social media a new physical copy. I still don’t have possession of one…haven’t heard its remaster, nor a single pressing ref. 

OK, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse : Next time you are in our regions, we must listen to it together.  
All kidding aside, such issues bring me to the following dilemma. Take for example a listener like me. When I buy music, I'd prefer that the money I invest, is fairly shared towards the artists who made it. Off course musicians, but there is also artwork,... What do you think, is the best purchase to do ? A legal download or streaming format, CD, LP, ... ?

JH : There isn’t a quick answer to this, given that none of us can know, when buying/streaming music, just what deals might be in place for any given artist that might best insure that the revenue stream flows as close to the artist as possible; but I am of the belief (and it is based more on instinct than on research) that vinyl is more typically instigated directly either by an artist and/or in partnership with. 

  • Heath Cullen

It is almost a year ago, when the fundings for musical projects in Australia where made public. One of these projects was a record by Heath Cullen, Joe Henry and Jim Keltner.

post : heath-cullen-jim-keltner-joe

I was wondering, if it was already recorded or planned.

JH : It is a project I still dearly hope to do. Heath and I continue to look for an opportunity of time that works for us both. As well, we collectively have some grand ambition for this project, and a number of very particular people (Jimmy Keltner not least of which) who we are still figuring how to get all in the same room together. We could do it in pieces, of course; but both Heath and I feel committed to at least trying to go for some real-time alchemy, if we can manage it.

  • Steve Lippman

A Couple of months ago, unfortunatly Steve Lippman passed away.   

"He (Joe) became part of the creative team of an ambitious project of mine not yet made." 

post : mid-summer-update-2018

JH : The sudden passing of Steve Lippman was and remains a shock to those of us who loved and admired him. Beyond the work he did for me around “tiny voices” and “thrum,” we had been in conversation for years about his desire to make a documentary film around Judy Garland’s seminal appearance at Carnegie hall in 1961. He was interested in me writing the score and curating the period source music. I think Steve’s vision was to not only look at Garland’s powerhouse performance on an historic night, but to look as well at the times surrounding it...  that provided its context. It’s a project that was dear to Steve’s heart, and I believe he had every intention of realizing it, no matter how long it took.

Do you think you, or someone else, might do something with the idea in the future ? Perhaps to honor Steve ?

JH : I can’t imagine this ever being undertaken without Steve. It was based on his vision, and a fundamental and wholly personal belief in the transformational aspects of that performance from Judy. Like a poem never written by a particular poet: No one else can step in and imagine its weather system.

  • Writing in Ireland

So Joe, you had a writing residency in Ireland. Now how do we have to imagine such a residency ?

post : writing-in-ireland 

JH : When my wife Melanie and I were on the west coast of Ireland to celebrate our 30th anniversary, in may of 2017, we spent part of our time in the small seaside village of Ballyvaughan, where we happen to have a dear friend living. While there and in a pub one evening, I met the dean of the local Burren College of Art; and he invited me to think about my coming back there for a writing residency. He explained it to me over time that I would have no real obligations other than to show up with whatever it was I was interested in writing, and just…doing it there; be a presence on campus, where I might interact ––as much or as little as I cared to–– with the young art students. In exchange, the school would provide me a studio space at the school, a rental cottage for me and my wife, right by the sea.

Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity. I had an office in which to write, and I showed up there monday through friday, from roughly 10AM until 5:50PM, for a month; and I wrote. a lot of poems and several songs that I think will serve me well. I also did a lexture one afternoon for the students (mostly visual artists) about how I engage with the creative process. and then on the last weekend there, I invited in from Dublin both Lisa Hannigan and Glen Hansard to do a songwriting workshop with me, and then a shared performance that evening, as a benefit for the school.

Never underestimate the power of (creative) people around you. I personally believe that everything that happens in your live is important for your further evolution.  It is impossible to measure, but at the same time unpayable. I'm sure your presence had an important influence for those students.

JH : If my presence at the art college in Ballyvaughan had any lasting impact on any student, it would be without my realizing it ––and well beyond my means to quantify its value. I’d like to think it meant something to someone other than me that I was there; but i don’t think I could ever know it.

That is also an aspect of something unmeasurable. The entire trip sounds like a wondeful experience.

JH : It was one of the great autumns of our lives, both Melanie and I agree.



maandag 11 maart 2019

Rabbit Hole, Rosanne Cash

Rabbit Hole is a song by Rosanne Cash. It is featured on her latest album 'She Remembers Everything.'

She wrote this song for her friends Joe Henry and Billy Bragg.

After a serious operation in 2007, it was a struggle for her to return to the stage. Seeing Joe and Billy perform helped her through it.

She wrote this wonderful song for them. A great song about the power of friendship. Cherish it !

I just want a road that bends
A love that wins
An honest friend
I just want a night of peace
A blessed relief
I want to make you see

That you in your crumpled splendor
When you sing to the farthest rafter
With your big life full of love and laughter
Can pull me up from the rabbit hole

To show me the road that bends
The love that wins
You're an honest friend
And you'll give me that night of peace
Blessed relief
You can make me see

That you with your light and glory
With your old dreams and epic stories
You seal all the darkened doors
And pull me up from the rabbit hole

I just want a road that bends
A love that wins
An honest friend
I'm looking for a night of peace
Blessed relief
You could make me see

That you, with your soldier's honor
You kind man and plainsong scholars
You sound like a million dollars
You pull me up from the rabbit hole 

P.S. : A limited release of the album 'She remembers Everything' features letters exchanged between her and Joe (and a few more)

zondag 10 maart 2019

'Demon Seed' by Doug Seegers

Listen to the first single of Doug Seegers' upcoming album 'A story I got to tell'. The album is produced by Joe Henry.

Here is Demon Seed

The album will be released on May 31. You can already pre-order it.

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi recorded an album last summer, produced by Joe Henry.

They are currently touring in Ireland and have given some info for this record in a few interviews.

Photo : Karen Cox

The duo have a forthcoming album, recorded with Joe Henry at Windmill Lane, and it is a musical voyage of discovery from Africa and the Middle East across to Europe and the Americas. They discovered a shared creative ground after their paths crossed a few years back, spanning gospel, jazz, blues, country and folk, but this is their first nationwide tour of Ireland.(source)

What we can expect from this voyage we can read in another interview. In this interview they speak about the current tour.

"We’ll play an Appalachian ballad with an Iranian frame drum normally used by Sufis for trance,” Turrisi says, “but you know, there’s almost a trance element to the ballad singing and the resonance of the large frame drum gives a kind of a drone effect. And we have a minstrel tune on the banjo with a Sicilian tamburello [an Italian tambourine]. And an old time American tune connected to a Brazilian forró sound. They seem to go hand in hand: we’ve discovered improbable connections that somehow work.”

further on in the interview Rhiannon explains :

I’m discovering so much about how invisible, othered and dismissed the Islamic world is, in terms of the massive effects it had on European music and culture,” Rhiannon continues. “For example, the massive impact it had on the African continent, the number of Muslim enslaved people there were in the Americas: way more than people think. It’s a really huge topic and we’re barely scratching the surface. But even having some of the rhythms and modes that Francesco has been working on through his music for so long match up so well. The way that both of us approach music is very similar because we’re both very educated about where the music is coming from. But when it comes to playing, we’re both just playing what we feel.

The interview for the Irish Times announces 'an' album for the coming month of May.
I must admit.
I'm intrigued by all of this, and looking forward to it.


vrijdag 8 maart 2019

Songs of our Native daughters

Songs of our Native daughters  

This album is  Musical journalism.

What better day is there than today, international Women's day, to thank, honor and put on a pedestal these 4 women, and what they have created.

How do I start writing about this album? I can’t get my thoughts in line, they are all together pushing their way out, as if there was a fire in my head. I am supposed to write a logical, structured text, and not this uncontrolled stream of thoughts. Who knows where this entry is ending up?

Songs of our Native daughters is an album that shines light on African-American women’s stories of struggle, resistance and hope. It is a confrontation with America’s history of slavery and racism seen from a woman’s point of view.  It was Rhiannon Giddens who felt the need to address these stories, and she invited Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell to a, how to say it…, a custom-made recording studio in Louisiana. A studio created by their producer Dirk Powell. In the meantime it is also an ode to a centuries old musical heritage of minstrelsy, bluegrass and folk. This interweaved with a celebration of the banjo, which can not be left aside in these histories.
On top of that : the title is a tribute to James Baldwin's essay : 'Notes of a Native Son' .

Several reviews for this album have already been written, and they all, righteously, praise this album, this music, these wonderful musicians. If they don’t know it yet, they will know it now: I truly admire these musicians, these human beings. It is indeed great music, powerful music, and only for that a must to hear.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about.

Although this album consists of stories from the past, it still is relevant today. Although these are stories about the African-American history; the issues addressed here can easily be translated to a global scale, and any kind of disrespect from 1 side to another more unfortunate one. The re-interpretation by Dirk Powell, from William Cowper’s poem “Pity for Poor Africans” from 1788 is the clearest proof of that. You can listen to it in the song ‘Barbados’.

This album is, what I would call, Musical journalism. It is like the war journalist who doesn’t search the big overall story of a conflict, but the one who tells the stories of innocent inhabitants who have to endure it all against their will. It is, for me, the most important form of journalism, for it tells you exactly how brutal it all is, and not how political just or unjust.
William Cowper displays us the problem of using only such journalism. Or is it propaganda? It depends on which side you are on, I guess.  In the poem a person starts talking about his disapproval of slavery, but soon comforts, maybe mostly himself, by explaining that it is for a good cause: coffee, tea…. And if they didn’t someone else would… and so on. The de-humanization of these Africans is taken for granted. They were addressed as slaves…. Not as Africans or humans, but with a word that has no human connotation: Slave. That makes it easier for people to accept the inhuman behavior towards these people. Step 1: you de-humanize them.
Today, in Europe, a same thing is happening for people who are fleeing from parts in the world where it is (or is becoming) impossible to live. Mostly because of war or climate change. These people are not called humans. No, we use words like refugee or luck-seeker. In my country, last year, a 2-year-old child was killed by a police bullet. “It was only a refugee” was something you heard a lot,... too much.
No! A 2 year old child died !

But back to the poem: Dirk Powell’s re-interpretation talks about modern slavery where it is not anymore about wool or sugar, but about the raw materials for our electronic devices. (Yes, I am aware I am typing this on an electronic device.) You can also easily interpret it towards cheap clothing, coffee from farmers in Africa, Shrimps for our summer barbecue, hazelnuts for our chocolate spread…
All (actually) luxury items we (also me) take for granted in our Western society.
Cynically Dirk Powell’s version ends with “So relax, my friend-we’re not all complicit.”
Should I, or we, feel complicit? Is it OK if I ask myself, or you that question? – There are politicians in my country who literally say we live in a superior society, so I think they don’t ask them self that question. But I do, … I ask myself more questions then I can give answers. I sometimes wish I didn’t, because that would be easier for my mind. Hellas, or luckily, I am who I am…

Am I complicit because (f.e.) I use smartphones and tablets? The easiest simple answer is: ‘no, because I can’t help it.’ But there is a more difficult complex answer. I don’t think you can point at it to individuals. We must question the society we live in. We all agree that any kind of slavery must end. Why do we, even today, close our eyes for such? I think, deep down, we all know there are people suffering so that we can have our ‘self-called-basic-needs’. Why do we find it for ourselves normal to be payed well, and work in healthy conditions, but don’t speak up for other parts of the world?
If we can do it for our own society, we can do it for everyone in the world, and that starts with thinking of this earth, this universe as 1 big society. a society of different people but all equal.

Bringing back a human face to the oppressed helps with that.
Stories of the innocent people who have to endure it, do exactly that.
This musical album does that.

That’s why, besides being a fantastic album, this is a very important album.

"We can do better, We can be better. We are 1 family, blood and bones, one race-human- and so many beautiful colors. We have love. We can take better care of eachother. Music helps, Music heals."
Allison Russell

And I thank you Rhiannon,
And Amythyst, Leyla, Allison and Dirk.

1000 words in - : my electronic device tells me, and if you made it up to here with me, you can maybe understand a little why these thoughts needed to come out.

Much Love,

dinsdag 5 maart 2019

Rich Hinman vs. Adam Levy Part II

The wonderful record Rich Hinman vs. Adam Levy  arrived this afternoon. 

As I assumed : on the backside of the artwork, besides all the usual info, you find Joe Henry's praise for this album. It is entitled 'Rookie of the Year', just like the song on the B-Side written by Rich Hinman & Chris Morrissey.

Once I start listening to the record, I get reminded again that there is another lifeform, besides a biological one, out there. It is entitled music.
How else can you explain that you are witnessing feelings from sadness up to joy while all that there is, are the soundwaves floating in the room. 

It's a lifeform that is created, but who is the creator of this one ? 
It are musicans Rich Hinman, Adam Levy, Jennifer Condos and Jay Bellerose who perform these songs. These are four musicians who already are high up there in 'tower of songs', and with this record they remind us all why they are in that place. 

But are they the creator of these songs, or did the songs choose them to find their way out ?
When is a song born ? When it is played, or when it started brewing in the minds of Musicians ?

I am a total amateur musician, but I know, sometimes when you play music,... your mind seems not to be the one to move your body, but it is the music inside yourself that takes over.

This record feels like it always has existed, but it only needed to be played, and only Rich, Adam, Jennifer and Jay could have done it, there was no other way. 

I thank all of them.

maandag 4 maart 2019

Doug Seegers produced by Joe

On May 31 2019, Doug Seegers will release his new album. It is produced by Joe. The album is entitled 'A story I got to tell'.

‘A Story I Got To Tell’ is Doug Seegers’ first major album release on BMG in the UK. American by birth and a star in Sweden, he has gold and platinum discs to his name, hundreds of live shows to his credit and multiple successful album releases elsewhere in the world.
Released on May 31st ‘A Story I Got To Tell’ features eleven new tracks and is produced by renowned GRAMMY-winning US producer Joe Henry. Encompassing country and blues, gospel, soul and rock, it’s a fluid and eloquent mix that demonstrates just how accomplished Seegers is as an artist; though as the title suggests, his story has not all been plain sailing.

The album was recorded in the spring of 2018.

“Working with Joe Henry has been one of the most revolutionary and evolutionary experiences,” says Seegers.  “This album is probably my most personal songwriting experience ever and reminds me why every day I choose my recovery, my redemption, and my faith. Through my music I know my authentic message of hope and rehabilitation can help people. It’s what I’m meant to do. It’s the story I’ve got to tell.”
As producer on the new album, Henry instantly connected with Doug’s charismatic presence, his soulful songs, and his artistic sensibility.  The result of their collaboration takes Doug beyond his signature country sound to a rich soundscape where soul, blues, rock and gospel intersect — redefining Doug Seegers as a classic American Music artist in the same legendary category as Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Roy Orbison.
On March 8th, the first single 'Demon Seed' will be released. 


Here is 'Angies's song' from 2015.

dinsdag 19 februari 2019

Pre-order the 'BIG EARS KNOXVILLE (book project)'

As announced earlier Joe wrote an essay for a forthcoming photobook about the Big Ears Festival. 

Big Ears Festival is a Festival in Knoxville. This year the festival will take place from 21-24 March. The photobook will be presented during the festival.
To celebrate 10 years of Big Ears, the art and music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, AC Entertainment, Rock Fish Stew Institute of Literature and Materials, Southern Documentary Fund, and Hat & Beard Press worked closely with artist Kate Joyce—who photographed the festival, the people and surrounds of Knoxville over the last five years—to create a captivating time capsule, both of the last five years of performances at Big Ears and of the lyrical and visual language of Knoxville.

Between 2014-2018 more than 200 artists and bands performed at Big Ears. During the five years that Joyce traveled to Knoxville for the festival, she photographed some of them, but not nearly all of them—for good reason, as you’ll soon read. Of those she did photograph, a number found their way into the book. Among them are the bands Algiers, Eighth Blackbird and Kronos Quartet, musicians John Luther Adams and his wife Cynthia, Bryce Dessner, Wu Fei, Rachel Grimes, Levon Henry, Julia Holter, Little Annie, Wu Man, Grey McMurray, Guy Picciotto, Terry Riley, Omar Souleyman, Susanna and Abigail Washburn, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and conductor Steven Schick with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

on top of that : the book also will give you exclusive streaming access to a selection of audio recordings from performances at Big Ears between 2014-2018.

Joe performed there together with Marc Ribot in 2016. (A concert I wished I could have witnessed.)

You can now pre-order the book. Shipment is announced for late March 2019.


zaterdag 16 februari 2019

You are my Sunshine

Joe Performed 'You are my sunshine' for Fretboard Journal.

Can you guess who called it the greatest song ever written in America ?
Joe gives you the answer in the end.

Joe was not not the first to give his take on this tune. Bill Frisell, Noam Pikelny and Bryan Sutton preceded him. Make sure to check their versions also at Fretboard Journal.

donderdag 14 februari 2019

Rich Hinman vs. Adam Levy

edit : Album will become available on the 22nd. 

Rich Hinman vs. Adam Levy (or in short VS), is a 'limited edition' album that will be released on February 22. 

If you love L.A.'s Jazz scene and Electric Guitars, you need to check this one out. 
If you share my love for Anthony Wilson's music, you need to check this out. 

and apparently, if you like Joe Henry's writing, you need to check this out. 

It is an instrumental album featuring the following line up : 

Rich Hinman: pedal steel guitar & electric guitar
Adam Levy: electric guitar
Jennifer Condos: electric bass
Jay Bellerose: drums

Joe Henry is credited for an essay on the album. I assume it will be part of the booklet when you buy the album. 

The album is mastered by another familiar name, when it comes to Joe. : Kim Rosen/Knack Mastering.  


First Rising Appalachia track

June 2018, Joe was at Stinston Beach, SF producing Rising Appalachia.

at the Website cdbaby, you can purchase the first single entitled 'Harmonize'
The upcoming Album will be entitled 'Leylines'.

Update : The album will be released on May 3rd.


dinsdag 12 februari 2019

A salute to John Prine

Photo : Patrick T. Fallon

At the pre-Grammy gathering at the Troubadour in L.A., several artists paid salute to John Prine. (And there were a lot of them)

Joe Henry was one them, he performed 'Hello in there'.

From the L.A. times

The always articulate Henry quoted another Americana world musician-producer in his song introduction, “T Bone Burnett has said the hallmark of a great artist is generosity. John Prine is a great artist, and I love him,”

From Billboard.com
"Picture this," echoed Joe Henry, "John Prine has been a mountain before me. He’s a masterful songwriter who inspired my first young attempt to try it out. He’s a great artist and I love him."

To end the evening, every artist participated in performing "Paradise"