A blog for Joe Henry fans

zondag 10 december 2017

Concert @ City Winery, Boston Dec. 7

Joe performed at City Winery, Boston last week.

I received the following message from a loyal follower of this Blog.

Hey, Stefan,
I've been hooked on Joe since the streetnoise in 'Reverie' broke through my synapses.
I wished you had heard that band, it was other worldly. The 'THRUM ' ensemble thrilled. IN REAL TIME!!!
Joe's banter was meaningful and personal. The drummer has insane nuances besides the punches of his sticks. Mean tambourine. The bass and piano were also out of their body- but son Levon plays like a mad genius. Young but his horn squawking has this unsettling undercurrent. Tight unit cried through the night. 
I almost wanted to go to Woodstock, NY to see him in Levon Helm's Ramble Barn. 
Greetings, Blues Mama

Thank you, Blues Mama, for sharing your story and video.

If anyone else wants to share their JH story, or experience. Feel free to contact me.

zondag 3 december 2017

Life in song, or song in life.

In the days before the Thrum tour started with a 3-day residentie in Durham, several interviews with Joe emerged. Maybe even more than previously, I noticed each time the interest in how these songs saw the face of day, What do they mean? and where do they go?
 While with 'Invisible Hour' everyone wrote about it as a poetic approach towards marriage, with 'Thrum' people seem to be checking if these songs are what they think they are ?

As an intro we receive the story of how the song Hurricane, W Va. ended up on his debut album 'Talk of Heaven'.
We learn that it was a roadsign he, and his brothers, crossed travelling through West Virginia, and that he found it a good title.
“When I wrote that song, I was writing something that I was trying to imagine someone like Johnny Cash might record, just to see if I could,”

How do all these songs form an album ? was a question several journalists asked.
"...At a certain point I’m writing songs and throwing them onto a pile. At some moment I understand that there’s a number of them that are sharing vocabulary, emotional weather and intention. And when I recognize that there are three, four, five songs that are inter-related in a way—sometimes I can articulate how I think they are and sometimes it’s a more instinctive understanding. And then I kind of listen to what I think they need to thrive....(source)"
We know, f.e. that the song 'Believer' and 'The Glorious Dead' where written years prior to releasing 'Thrum', and even performed live on occasions. But 'keep us in song' was written during the first UK leg of the 'Shine a light' tour.

In the end, how we interpret all these songs, is up to us: the audience. But for The album 'Thrum' Joe wanted to clear the air, and state that he did not write them as political songs.

In an interview Jay N. Miller gave the following interpretation to Joe : "Basically, we’d suggest the songs are about fear and uncertainty, and somehow managing to pilot yourself through those hard times and doubts."

JH : "I’d say the songs are about all those things,............I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly what the songs meant in some cases, but I think fear and trembling is something we are seeing today, as people, and as a nation. The political moment is part of the moment we stand in, but I’ve never written songs to address a political moment. I don’t want that kind of authority. I’m more interested in looking at what does fear and trembling do to us as individuals? How do we abide and continue in times like these?"
"I always want to write about things that challenge us as human beings,” Henry continued. “How we all try to deal with the inevitable, stand in the moment, and abide it, or don’t.....................
Sometimes songs mean different things to different people, so if some people see commentary in these songs, that’s their right.”

I have written down my view on 'Thrum'. But if I had to say it in 1 sentence : I interpret the album as the climb, both we personally and as a society need to do.... Are doing!

Joe told Rob Beyers what the circumstances where, when and how he wrote 'Keep us in song'. I remember verry wel the overall feel in that period. 4 days after he wrote that song, I saw him perform in Portsmouth. It was a period full of worries for all of us. Knowing what I know today, I think those days marked the verry beginning of a Climb Joe, at first personally, had to face, and turn that in getting us all on board to climb.  I am actually relieved that he wasn't alone touring in the UK, but Billy Bragg was right there with him. Both of them turned those shows in perhaps the most important tour you could witness in the UK, maybe even Europe.Today, we are climbing.  We are on our way up !

Me personally I also had to climb, and f.e. music has helped me with that.

2 Years ago, when ISIS attacked Paris's conterchall Bataclan. Fear struck all the way to Brussels. Venue Ancienne Belgique, closed for several days. It is a venue, similar to Bataclan, so there was actual fear. Trixie Whitley opened the doors again. All those dreadful events made that concert, in Belgium, almost symbolic.  Before it actual started, we all sang along with Bob Marley's 'one love'. The emotions in that room, the statement we made there together where of the utmost strength !

BTW, it's the place Joe himself will perform in a few months.

A few months later, Brussels itself got attacked by ISIS at the airport, and on the subway. It was the period Birds of Chicago toured with 'Real Midnight'. Their song on how we have to look out for eachother, together. Their concert, and my converation with them was another step up the ladder.

Seeing Bill and Joe preached the importance of solidarity in Portsmouth helped us all, together !
Hearing Billy Bragg perform in Antwerp a few weeks ago helped us all, together ! 

And hearing the 'Thrum' songs helps us :

Together !

Well, this was supposed to be a round up of some interviews, but I got carried away again... Perhaps I should title this post something like : Life in Song, or song in Life. I don't know...


sources :

vrijdag 1 december 2017

Rodney Crowell's Adventures in song

Dreamcatcher events and American Songwriter have announced a 'songwriting camp' hosted by Rodney Crowell.

'Adventures in song' is a 4 day event full of workshop, lectures and concerts.

Joe Henry is 1 of the guests.

The event takes place from 16 till 20 July, 2018 in Caramel,CA

Rodney Crowell's Adventures in Song is an event for players and music-lovers of all ages, levels, interests, and taste! Whether you are a master player, a beginner, or just an enthusiastic fan, our four day programs offer activities and workshops for you. Our environments are non-competitive and are strictly about immersing oneself in the joys of music and our lovely surroundings!

In his personal invitation, Rodney Crowell writes he will be 'teaching as will Joe Henry, Lisa Loeb, Allen Shamblin and Brennen Leigh. And there will be guest appearances by the legendary Bernie Taupin and Booker T. Jones. Renowned session guitarist, Don Peake, will be on hand and you never known who else might turn up.'

Register with this link !

dinsdag 28 november 2017

Congratulation Ryan Freeland (and Rose Cousins)

A well deserved congratulations is in order !

Today the Grammy nominations, 2018 have been announced.

Ryan Freeland is 1 of the nominees for 'Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical'. This for his work on the album 'Natural Conclusion' from Rose Cousins. You guessed it: produced by Joe.

On January 28, the winners will be announced.

Good Luck !

zondag 26 november 2017

Lisa, Billy and a few others...

The Colorist is a Belgian band using more classical instruments together with self-made instruments, toys and other items that make sound.  These are some of Belgian’s finest musicians currently out there. They rarely make their own songs, usually they re-arrange another artist’s catalogue, and perform together with that artist. I remember with their previous project, featuring Emiliana Torrini, I told my friends ‘something extremely beautiful’ was touring in our country. That project resulted in an international tour and a record. Even today, sometimes they still perform it.

For the current project they asked Lisa Hannigan to join them. They reworked songs from her 3 solo albums. Indeed; also Passenger, produced by Joe. The song ‘fall’ she co-wrote with Joe, was another 1 that was performed.
It was again a wonderful show in Antwerp, I saw this week. As high as The Colorist set the bar, they can take the jump. It was, in the words Lisa addressed to the audience, "A musical, fairytale spaceship".
Keep an eye on them, because I heard they will be back on the road in April. If you can, go and see them, and have a wonderful evening.

And then, yesterday, I went to see Billy Bragg perform. Another member of the 'Musical Joe Henry family'. Last year they recorded and toured ‘shine a light’ together.
But let me start with giving Billy’s opening act a deserved place here. Irish folksinger, Paddy Nash, has a wonderful singing voice and brought us songs from his life and dreams, and since he’s opening for Billy Bragg, a little bit on current political and social problems was also presented. I’m sure he won a lot of hearts yesterday.
I need to jump back here a few weeks, because another member of this family came in with a great opening act a few weeks ago. Aimee Mann, who treated us with a great evening, and for my personal nostalgia played several songs from the Magnolia Soundtrack. These songs still stand tall !
But I was writing about opening acts: Jonathan Coulton gave us a humorous view on the world. For example:  check out his song IKEA.
Aimee Mann

Billy Bragg, is a man on a mission! He's traveling around the world, performing to reload his audiences their battery to strive for a better world. The appreciation he gets from the audience, will also surely recharge his.  And so we all help each other, and can make it happen. His mission comes in the form of this tour where he is promoting his album ‘Bridges not walls’. An album with songs he wrote over the last year(s), while he was also touring heavily together with Joe for the 'Shine a light’ songs. Yesterday he mentioned a few times touring and railing with Joe, and how the Current affairs from then, and news reporting about it, affected the concerts from this tour. I have seen 1 of those concerts, (actually: I think, that me and my wife are 1 of the very few Belgians who’ve seen it, if not the only Belgians?). I think I can understand what he was saying there. These words were an intro to Anais Mitchell’s ‘Why we build the wall’, a song that, for me, is turning into an anthem of this era.  It doesn’t loose any power, no matter how many times I’ve heard it.

Billy recharged every battery in the house, and an entire audience went home with a new motivation to be part of more solidarity !
We didn’t want to let Billy end the show, so he came back for a 2nd encore, on the condition that we sang the chorus of ‘A new England’, with which he also saluted Kirsty MacColl, by singing the verse he wrote for her.
An impressive ending, but a little ironic singing those sentences after such an inspiring evening.   But hey,... that song just pushed the battery up to 130%.

maandag 20 november 2017

European 'Thrum' tour + Videoclip

This morning the first shows for Amsterdam and Brussels where already announced.

Now we have info on a full European Tour.

Feb 1 King’s Place : London, UK  
Feb 2 Mackintosh Church : Glasgow, UK
Feb 4 Paradiso : Amsterdam, NL
Feb 5 Ancienne Belgique : Brussels, BE 
Feb 7 Prinzenbar : Hamburg, GER
Feb 8 Quasimodo : Berlin, GER 
Feb 10 Music Hall Worpswede :  Bremen, GER
Feb 11 Grand Social : Dublin, IR

The announcement was made with a brandnew video of Joe performing 'The Glorious Dead' with Levon Henry.

A Video directed by Steve Lipmann/FLIP .

Here are some 'making-of' pictures :

Brussels and Amsterdam show

2 European shows have been announced for February  :
February 4th : Paradiso Noord, Amsterdam
February 5th : Ancienne Belgique : Brussels

I have no info yet, whether it will be a solo show, together with Levon Henry, or with a full band.
(I personally hope the latter.)

Pre-sale for these shows starts on Wednesday, 22 November 10:00h.

You'll know where to find me those days.