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A blog for Joe Henry fans


dinsdag 8 augustus 2017

Lizz Wright's rendition of Barley

New single of Lizz Wright's upcoming album 'Grace'.

Barley
Produced by Joe Henry
Written by Allison Russell
Originally recorded by Birds of Chicago, (available on the album 'Real Midnight' which was also produced by Joe).

Need I say more....




As Wright herself writes, “‘We sing to remember home and to make ourselves at home in any place.’ These are the words of my dear friend Toshi Reagon. In ‘Barley,’ JT Nero and Allison Russell (from Birds of Chicago) churn a wise and faith-filled sentiment to build a place to rest assured of my sense of belonging and peace. I’m excited to see young writers using this old blues style of repetition in their work. Feels so good.” (Paste Magazine)

Grace will be released on September 15, 2017.
pre-order it today!

vrijdag 14 juli 2017

First single out from Grace.

Something we all are waiting for, is the release of Lizz Wright's upcoming album 'Grace', produced by Joe.

NPR has an interview with Lizz, and gives you a first single : Seems I'm never tired Lovin' you .

Make sure to check that out !

woensdag 12 juli 2017

Steep Canyon Rangers

Joe was involved in the recording of a new album by the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Een bericht gedeeld door Steep Canyon Rangers (@steepcanyonrangers) op



In a state that’s also produced Doc Watson, James Taylor and the Avett Brothers, there’s hardly a more well-rounded answer than the Steep Canyon Rangers. 
A bluegrass band at their core, the Steep Canyon Rangers effortlessly walk the line between festival favorite and sophisticated string orchestra. They’re as danceable as the most progressive, party-oriented string band, and equally comfortable translating their songs for accompaniment by a full symphony.(Stratton Lawrence)

Although Joe's role is not specified. I assume he acted as producer. (Correct me if I'm wrong here.)


donderdag 15 juni 2017

A 3 day Residency at Duke Performances

OK everyone,


Book your tickets direction Durham...



Joe is resident artist at Duke Perfromances from 30 November untill the 2nd of December. 

I'm pretty sure I will have to miss out on it. But I wish you all the most wonderful 3 days.


30 November :
A free public talk at the Nasher Museum of Art, called “Take Me to the River,” about the ephemeral, mystical nature of artistic predecessors.

1st of  December :
A talk about the alchemical process of making records, “Is It Rolling, Bob?,” at Durham’s Sound Pure Studios.

2nd of December :
A fifty-seventh birthday concert, playing every song from his new album, Thrum, as well as other tunes from his expansive songbook.

Go to their site for more info. 

By the way :
It is not the first time Joe is in Durham. In 2014,  he was there for a special program called 'Wild Edges' together with the Milk Carton Kids, and Over The Rhine.  For that one, I am still hoping that someday the recording of that evening will be released.

Thrum will be its name

1 of the things to choose when a child is born is its name. It is something people give a lot of thought about, because It'll (mostly) last a lifetime. As a parent, it is a first direction you give. How will people adress you?

Off course with musical albums, it is a bit different. The music is already recorded. But still, what title do you give the album, so that it sums up everything you want to share with it?

Joe's upcoming album has received a name. And is now known as 'Thrum'.

Today, we don't know the songs, and this title makes me even more curious about them.

For instance, Thrumming is a musical expression. You can thrum f.e. on the snares of your guitar, or with your fingers on the table, or thrum by speaking.  Making a repeating monotone sound, to give a simple explanation.

But thrum means also something completely different. A thrum is a loose end, and I think in today's society, we have a lot of loose ends.
But also on a personal level there are, I think,  for everyone loose ends. I'm sure about it for myself anyway.  I don't see it as a worrying thing, or something that holds me back. On the contrary, it are the things that define for me in which direction I need to evolve. It is the map I need to follow....

....Ah well, I'm just thinking about the word Thrum over here, I certainly will await its birth and see it grow.

Greetings,
Stefan.


vrijdag 12 mei 2017

Joe and Billy nominated for the Americana Awards 2017

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg, have been nominated for a 2017, Americana Music Award.

Alongside Drive-By Truckers, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives and The Lumineers they are nominated for duo of the year.

Already Congratulions on that.

The Award show takes place in Nashville, on September 13, 2017.


Grace, by Lizz Wright


A lot of details concerning Lizz Wright's upcoming album have been released. The album will be entitled 'Grace', and releasedate is set for September 15, 2017.

There are 2 covers on the album, where Joe also produced the original versions. First there is 'Barley' from Birds of Chicago. And then there is the titletrack by Rose Cousins.

I give you some excerpts from the press release.
Grace was tracked live on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles alongside a standout cast of musicians at United Recording Studios – the sessions feature her nearly 20-year collaboration with Atlanta-based pianist and choir director Kenny Banks Sr., special guest guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist David Piltch, guitarists Chris Bruce and Marvin Sewell, drummer Jay Bellerose, and keyboardist Patrick Warren. An expansive collection of 10 songs and an original co-write with Maia Sharp (“All the Way Here”), Grace is Wright’s testament of devotion to speaking and embodying the fullness of her humanity through music. Her most clear statement to date, Grace finds Wright standing center stage in the complex dialogues of coexistence and interdependence between all walks of life.
The vast landscapes portrayed on Grace are brimming with Wright’s singular translations of music by Ray CharlesAllen ToussaintNina SimoneSister Rosetta Tharpek.d. langBob DylanFrank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, as well as emerging artists Rose Cousins and Birds of Chicago. From a body of about 70 covers collected primarily by Joe Henry, 10 works were selected that mirror Wright’s rural upbringing and the trail of stories and songs that have brought her to the world stage. Having a strong sense of intention to speak of grace from the inception of the project, Wright forwent writing the title track after hearing “Grace” by Rose Cousins – the first title track Wright didn’t compose from her catalogue of six studio recordings. 
Grace opens with “Barley,” a song penned by Birds of Chicago based on the traditional blues format of word repetition. With its sweeping march and repeating phrases, “Barley” has Wright churning an ancestral force of affirmation and encouragement.
Joe Henry’s years of friendship and collaboration with Allen Toussaint brought “Southern Nights” to the pre-studio listening session. Allen’s spirited trail of rural imagery made “Southern Nights” the song that felt like home.



“Lizz Wright and I have been friends for nearly fifteen years; I’ve hungered for the chance to stand in service to her as she sang, so powerful do I find the expression of her humanity. It was and remains an honor to have been Lizz’s scout along the journey of Grace. And in such dark times, we are all as musicians called to answer brutality with wild and inclusive beauty. When Lizz now sings, I am allowed to feel by extension that I am doing something of my part. What a gift that has been to me; what a gift she offers all.”

Joe Henry


Pre-listen to excerpts of this album.


zondag 30 april 2017

'A new Joe Henry album might help'...

 The title of this entry was a tweet that appeared this week. Joe replied to it.



I guess we can say from reliable sources that a new Joe Henry album is planned to be released in October.

Last July, Steve Dawson already asked Joe if he had a new album in the works. Steve Dawson has a serie of great podcasts. Joe was one of the people he interviewed.

 "I like the idea of making a record before this year is out, but I haven't figured out how" was one of the things Joe answered last July. 

Then, A few weeks ago, Joe already let us know, he was recording something in the studio.

vrijdag 21 april 2017

Looking Back, Artist of the decade.

I was remembered today of the most wonderful words, Andy Whitman wrote in 2009, on Joe Henry. It was an article he did for Paste Magazine.

These words still stand, so I'll share them again for you. I wish you all happy readings.

Greetings,


Nobody—and yes, that includes the crotchety curmudgeon from Hibbing Minnesota—wrote better songs this decade than Joe Henry. He released four albums in the Aughts:Scar,Tiny Voices, Civilians, and Blood from Stars. They’re all essential. Just buy them. I’d like to think that, in 20 or 30 years or so, when the musical wheel turns and the world reassesses all that has been ignored, these albums will be recognized as the masterpieces they are.
So do alt-country bands like The Jayhawks. So does the supremely gifted Victoria Williams, whose vocals are even more idiosyncratic than Joe's. So does guitarist Marc Ribot, but he plays with everybody. He occasionally employs operatic divas to provide accompaniment for lines like “Because there was no gold mine, I freed the dogs and burned their sled." Good luck trying to find a label for the surrealistic dreamscape that is his music. I'm content to just call it great. As an added bonus, his lyrics also happen to be jaw-droppingly wonderful, and work more often as standalone poetry than those of The Poet of a Generation. His songs are as consistently, restlessly challenging and rewarding as contemporary music gets.
So maybe I’m bitter, sitting here in my coffee-stained T-shirt. I don’t know why the rest of the world doesn’t recognize this incontrovertible truth. Maybe it’s the nondescript name that keeps people from discovering music that is anything but nondescript. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that Joe Henry’s songs don’t fit into an easily defined box, and are too genre-busting to slot within the confines of today’s narrowcasting world. Whatever it is, Joe Henry is the Dylan that scarcely anybody knows.
I interviewed him five or six years ago, right before the release of his album Tiny Voices. He had woken up shortly before I called, and he had just returned from dropping his kids off at school. It was delicious to imagine this dutiful father and devoted family man returning to his notepad after making sure that the kids had their lunch money in hand, jotting down lyrics about widows of Central American revolutionaries, junkies, and rape victims, reveling in apocalyptic imagery involving bombers and tanks and beauty queens and circus freaks selling lemonade. He was writing the kind of shadowy, surrealistic nightmares that Dylan hadn’t explored since “Desolation Row,” and I imagined that he was doing it in his pajamas.
I don’t know if that’s literally true, of course, and Joe Henry wasn’t telling. But maybe that’s because he’s the master of the oblique, of the truth that resides in between the lines on a page, of the indirection that conveys as much in what isn’t said as in the black and white lyrics in the CD booklet. His song “This Afternoon” is a masterpiece of impending dread, of ominous detail piled atop ominous detail, and he never once gets around to saying what actually happens. But you have a pretty good inkling, and it isn’t good.
and during the past 10 years he’s worked with artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Teddy Thompson, Aimee Mann, Mavis Staples, and Mary Gauthier, and has almost single-handedly revived the careers of Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint, and Bettye Lavette.
It’s a staggering body of work. Do yourself a favor and check him out now, before the musical wheel turns.
(Andy Whitman)

dinsdag 18 april 2017

Australian Record Store Day

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg will do an instore set during Record Store Day in Melbourne.

Place to be : The Basement Discs, Melbourne. 

We think it’s looking spectacularly good & of course we are particularly chuffed & humbled by BILLY BRAGG & JOE HENRY agreeing so readily to be a part of our very special day.  Both have done in-stores here separately over the years & quite naturally are huge supporters of all things independent (& record stores in particular) , so it was just so perfect & timely that they happen to be in Melbourne for their shows the weekend of RECORD STORE DAY!!


I Don't have an exact hour for Joe & Billy's set. But I'm sure the store has. ;-)

Greetings,
Stefan

zaterdag 15 april 2017

2017 Summerfestivals




As previously announced : Joe and Billy will perform at the Byron Bluesfest.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Canada : 13-16 July  (Performance on the 14th)
 Newport Folk festival ,US : 28-30 July (Performance on the 29th).
Calgary folk fest, Canada : 27-30 July (Performance on the 27th).

new announcement :
Hillside Summer Festival, Guelph Lake Island : 14-16 July (Performance on the 16th)


To be updated... ?



vrijdag 14 april 2017

#WhatJusticeMeansToMe

Joe made his contribution on the Internet for #WhatJusticeMeansToMe
Since he mentions he's at that moment in Belfast with Billy Bragg, we can date the filming of this clip to January 29, 2017. It where the days of heavy protest against Trump's Muslimban. It was a week where I saw humanity, solidarity and kindness, all over the world, become un-neglectable. A week that moved me to tears to see hope growing.



The 'Justice Project' asks everyone to share their idea of what Justice means personally.

"One of the great truths about the human perspective is that we don’t see the world as it is but as we are. So at THE JUSTICE PROJECT we decided to ask people and invite people from around the world who are old and young, healthy and infirm, free and incarcerated to tell us: “What justice means to me.” In this effort, we don’t expect to corner the truth about justice but to witness it by being an honest witness and honor our mission statement to lend an ear and give a voice. Please take a look and join us. As Scripture would remind us, “We’re not expected to finish the work but neither are we excused from it.”

What Justice means to me ?
- We should all, treat all of each other, as human beings, with the respect for human beings. Only then we will live in a just world. I believe today we generally confuse justice with, 'living-like-we-do.'
Looking at that, has nothing to do with Justice.  Looking beyond that has far more to do with it. Because then, we will look at each other as human beings, and we can find the respect for each other.

Greetings,
Stefan.

donderdag 6 april 2017

Producing Joan Baez

RollingStone has an article on Joan Baez : Joan Baez's Fighting Side: The Life and Times of a Secret Badass . 



Now, at the age of 76, she will be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, and she has a new album in the works produced by Joe.

With Donald Trump in the White House, rock is entering a new protest era, and Baez is helping lead the way. Last fall, she performed at Standing Rock in North Dakota as part of the protest against the Dakota Pipeline. In January, she participated in two Women's Marches on the same day, one in Redwood City and another in San Francisco, and she's helping to plan a show to benefit illegal immigrants (her father was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age two). "So many people have said to me, out of the blue, 'We need Joan Baez right now,' " says Joe Henry, who's producing Baez's next LP. "She's been fiercely standing where she is her whole life." When Henry told his sister-in-law Madonna he was working with Baez, he says, she texted him: "She's a fucking warrior hero."

She's planning one last worldwide tour, next year, right after she finishes her in-progress album, for which she's already cut covers of songs by Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, Josh Ritter and Anohni. "There's a feeling that things are winding down, and I wanted to do one more studio effort," she says. She's even recording with the same acoustic guitar she used on her first album (it has been refurbished several times). "She's at peace with it," says Joe Henry. "She has other things she'd like to focus on, like her painting. I didn't feel like it was with any regret." 
read the full interview on RollingStone.

The album will be entitled : 'Fare Thee Well' (source) 

Edit April 7, 2017
Joe's reaction now that the word is out :

vrijdag 31 maart 2017

zaterdag 18 maart 2017

Son of the Velvet Rat


Somewhere last year, Joe updated his Website and added to his productionlist : son of the velvet rat ; Releasedate to be confirmed. It was clear I needed to update this blog, and make a new entry. The only thing was.

... I had never heard of this band....

Naturally the first thing you look for is their website, and instantly the view of their opening page intrigued me. An image like an old postcard, or a moviestill from a long forgotten film where they started to experiment for the firsttime with color. It assures this is not just a band making one song after another. No, they are creating their universe, and inviting you into their musical world. The image I saw, was an invitation I just had to accept.

sonofthevelvetrat.com









I listened to their music, and I can not say anyting else then, that it was love at first sight for me. But now comes the tricky part, because how do I explain why I really like this ? I heard a lot of influences that I could refer to, but over the days and weeks, I started thinking on that. The danger is, that I will be diminishing them to merely a summary of artists I like. Like they just made a patchwork of sounds that already existed. But that's most definetly not the case.They are really unique !

So this post is probably more about my musical taste, then in to explaining who is 'Son of The Velvet Rat'. But maybe if you like this little part of my musical interest, you'll know you will love this band, who brings you a perfect blend of European styles, mixed with Americana songs.

There are flavors of French Chansons, German Avant Garde, Gipsy sounds, each time mixed with an American feel to it.  I found it almost symbolic that their album 'Red Chamber Music' opens with a slow country waltz 'Prayers': A song that brings you the question where are the things we know, before we know them, or after they're gone ?  Followed by a joyous 'Vampire song'.   Not many artists can bring you such an uplifting song that begins with "It's cold in the grave, It's cold as ice". Nick Cave Maybe ?
'King of Cool' reminds me of the band 'Sparklehorse', and other songs bring me to Dave Eugene Edwards, Some songs take place in small bars, heading towards closing time and lost dreams that make you wonder what ever happened to them.
That brings me to ballads that sound like a younger Tom Waits that pass along, You'll get lyrics that would have been worldfamous, if they were signed by B. Dylan or L. Cohen. It's all in there.

And now they released Dorado produced by Joe Henry. A continuing of their universe, opening with a Melancholic 'Carry on'. You stare in to the dessert, and wonder about its mysteries and secrets. But it's not all darkness on this album. There is also joy, urgence, mysterie,....
My personal favorite of that album ? : 'Starlite Motel'. Its atmosphere, mysterie.... Do I want to go there ? I don't know, but I'm attracted to it.




SotVR is not known where I live, but I'm convinced there is an audience over here waiting for them. I'm one of that. So I hope their world will reach down here.

Greetings,
Stefan.


donderdag 9 maart 2017

Special guest at book signing 'A life in Pursuit'



Update 17 March, 2017 : Joe's Presence has been cancelled.






JH will be a special musical guest at book store 'book soup' during a booksigning of the book 'T Bone Burnett, A life in pursuit. '
Event takes place on March 30.

Author of the book Lloyd Sachs will be discussing and signing the book on March 30 (7p.m.).



source
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

woensdag 8 februari 2017

Salute to Loretta Lynn

The Americana Music Association will bring a Salute to Loretta Lynn on sat. Feb. 11th In West Hollywood.

Joe Henry is 1 of the confirmed acts.

source and more info

Tickets go on sale on Febr. 10th at this site. .

Update l3 Februari 2017 : Joe Played 'The Whispering Sea' (source)



JH on this event : (From the LA Times)

“I am honored beyond measure to be invited to participate; as she occupies a singular place in the hearts of those of us who strive to be singular as songwriters, while also staying joined to the root system of American folk tradition."

“Loretta emerged with a do-it-yourself ethos that anticipated the emancipation of the songwriter in the ‘60s and beyond --deftly writing her own material when few of her contemporaries tended to, and owning a sharp and very personal point of view"

“When you heard her, you couldn’t miss that she was mining her own life for the stories her songs amplified; and they were as cunning and brazen as they were charming and seductive; as funny as they were heartbreaking,” he continued. “She was elegant and soulful, yet invariably as folksy as the hollow from which she sprang.”
“It’s no small thing that she still stands here in our midst: reverent of her times, yet clearly open to all else they might invite going forward,”

maandag 6 februari 2017

New Lizz Wright album for end of the Summer

Italian Site Baritoday anounces that Lizz Wright her upcoming album, produced by Joe, will be released at the end of the summer.

"Nel Gioco del Jazz", la cantante americana Lizz Wright in concerto al Teatro Palazzo 12 febbraio 2017
Al suo ritorno da un tour europeo nel novembre 2016, Lizz Wright è tornata in studio di registrazione con il produttore americano Joe Henry per il suo ultimo album la cui uscita è prevista per la fine dell'estate 2017.

After returning from her European Tour in November 2016, Lizz Wright returned to the recordingstudio together with producer Joe Henry for her new album, planned to be released at the end of the summer 2017. 



Potrebbe interessarti: http://www.baritoday.it/eventi/cantante-americana-lizz-wright-teatro-palazzo-bari-12-febbraio-2017.html
Seguici su Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BariToday/211622545530190

vrijdag 3 februari 2017

Lizz Wright : Some pictures from the recording session

As told last year, Joe Henry is producing Lizz Wright's new album. I came across some pictures in the studio, dated 7 Weeks ago. You can find them on @ceebrew's Instagram.

Besides them there was also Jay Bellerose, David Piltch, Ryan Freeland, Kenny Banks, Marvin Sewell,  





Ryan Freeland shines his light !


March 2016, Joe Henry and Billy Bragg boarded the train from Chicago to L.A. and recorded the album, “shine a light, Field recordings from the great American railroad”. They brought us wonderful versions of this true Musical Heritage. But they were not alone on the train. Amongst them, for example, was also Ryan Freeland who recorded the music. You can see him sitting somewhere in the back in the videoclips that were made to promote the album. Ryan is Joe’s longtime collaborator in the recording studio. Without Ryan Freeland, even more so for this album, we would not be able to hear these recordings the way we can hear them today at home. I asked him, if he would like to bring us his story from that trainride, and he generously accepted...

ryanfreeland.com

I was thrilled to be asked to work with Billy Bragg again and, as always, honored to work with my friend Joe Henry.
It was also an interesting challenge to think of a way to bring my love of recording onto a train. I needed to find a way to capture the feel of the train stations, platforms, and compartments while keeping the performances sonically engaging. 

Making a record on a train is completely different than doing it in a studio. They asked Ryan over a month in advance. So now he could start and figure out a way to do it…. 

When I was in high school at Interlochen Arts Academy I recorded a lot of the musician’s college audition tapes. Back then I had a Yamaha cassette four track which I purchased with the help of my folks and money I made from mowing lawns.
I also have always been fascinated with the Lomax field recordings and the fact that he had figured out a way to get a rig that fitted in a car and ran off the car battery. So I was familiar with those recordings and techniques and was intrigued by the idea of doing my modern twist on the idea of field recording. 


The whole rig needed to fit into a case that conformed to airline checked baggage limitations. I had a second case the same size with the custom Latch Lake mic stand they built for me, as well as some cables. That bag was tricky trying to stay under the 50-pound airline weight restrictions. 

I had traveled to New Orleans with a much bigger rig for recording at Alan Toussaint’s house about a year before he died. That rig was very heavy and resulted in about $250 of extra airline checked baggage fees. After that experience I swore I’d try and do my best to keep things within the airline restrictions.
So I tried to keep everything as simple and streamlined as possible so I could get to the spot and be up and running in just over a minute. You can’t believe how long that minute seemed when everyone is looking at you and waiting for you to indicate that you were recording. A simpler rig would have made things much easier on me but I really had this 4 mic idea and wanted to see if I could pull it off given all the space and time restraints. It was a really interesting set of variables and I was really happy with how it turned out.
(1)


Now, the hardest part was figuring out how to record 4 phantom powered ribbon microphones on a laptop all completely powered from batteries. I had recently watched some YouTube clips on the AEA Nuvo series mics and was very impressed. I immediately thought they would be perfect for this project because of their natural musical soundscape, their robustness, and their solid windscreens.
I did a lot of experimenting because of all of the variables and the intense time constraints once we jumped off the train to start recording before they called “all aboard”. Days before we started the trip I went over to Joe’s house with the whole rig and did some test recording... I tested everything at my studio,... at the hotel room the morning we were heading out on the train... And even with all of that : There were problems as soon I tried firing the rig up for the first time once I set it up in the first train station. I had just tested it 30 minutes before !!
I finally got it working but my stress level was an all time high. And then I looked at that beautiful building and heard Billy & Joe singing in my headphones on that first day at Union Station in Chicago. Looking back now, it’s my most wonderful memory from that trip.



videoclip 'Hobo's Lullaby'
 This was a great project to be part of. The most important thing for me was the feeling of comradery I experienced. There’s nothing like being a part of something great and being allowed and trusted to bring the best of yourself to the group.




And so the journey began, … Was it pure concentration and focus, or was he able to enjoy everything he was experiencing ?

There were plenty of times I would look around at the beautiful places we were, listening to two amazing musicians singing great songs and thinking about how lucky I was. 
We could all only listen on headphones one at a time. This made it such a personal and intimate experience. Anytime I looked over to Joe or Billy when they were listening to playbacks back on the train, they would always give me a thumbs up so I knew they were happy.
But most of the time I lived in shear terror that the recording equipment would fail or that the train would leave before I could get my mics packed and back aboard. At one point I almost got run over by a luggage cart, which is not something that usually happens on recording sessions.
 

You know, The thing that made me most aware of how special it was? It was when we got off the train in Austin at the end of the first leg of the trip. We had been this insular group of people living, sleeping, eating, and recording in this very unique way. Once we got off the train, knowing that we would not be getting back on until the next leg started, it was a very odd experience.
I remember being out to dinner that night with a bunch of other people and feeling weird. Once we got back on the train with just us I felt good again. I wasn’t ready to go back to the world outside of the train. I knew then, that it would be a life changing experience. I was doing something I really cared about with people I really cared about.


Promovideo 'shine a light'




Billy and Joe are both monster songwriters and encyclopedias of music over the decades. They live and breath that stuff every day, I live and breath microphones and compressors.






It is indeed a very special project. I stopped calling it the album or tour, because I felt it had grown to something more important. I went to see Billy and Joe’s show in Portsmouth where that became clear to me. I wondered if Ryan felt the same way, if the scale of it all was already in the air during the recordings. Where they aware of the power of these songs ?

I agree. Music has a lot of power! Joe and Billy are great spokespeople for what’s good and what’s bad about their respective countries. Music can be a very effective way to communicate thoughts and ideas. And a great song can change and affect people as much as any other work of art.
But when it comes to projects I work on : I live in a bit of bubble. As an engineer you aren’t usually aware of how the records affect people. Every once in a while, someone will send me a nice note about how much they like something I’ve worked on. But most of the time these albums just get sent out into the world and I’m not very aware of how important (if at all) they are to people.
I will say that I had a powerful experience being part of this album and that’s really the most important thing for me.


Let me assure you Ryan : don’t underestimate the influence of your work. You’re way up there for me, and I think many others also.
Already thank you for this, now a last quick one : studio or fieldrecordings ?


I’ve made recordings I’m really happy with in all sorts of places. 
Aimee Mann’s album 'Lost in Space' was made mostly in my one-bedroom apartment. Ray LaMontagne’s album 'God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise' was made in Ray’s living room. Almost everything I’ve done with Joe Henry over the last decade was done in his basement or versions of my home studio. 
I don’t think the physical space has as much to do with the recording as the people who make the album. It’s really the specific group of individuals coming together to put their passion, heart, and soul into something that really matters to them.
I just love recording. Wherever or however it needs to happen. I would never want to limit myself by thinking there’s a right and a wrong way to record.




(1) :For more technical info on Ryan's set up visit :  mixonline



dinsdag 31 januari 2017

2nd Europe leg has come to an end.

2 Weeks ago, Joe and Billy, embarked on their second European leg of the 'Shine a light' tour. It ended yesterday in Letterkenny Co. Donegak, Ireland.

Concerts much loved by their audiences. The social importance of it all only grew, for in this 2 weeks, millions of people  have been shaken up, woken up by the harsh reality we live in today. Joe and Billy, have given f.e. their support to the women's march in London, and walked along.



We live in dangerous times, but my heart warms in seeing protests grow against inhuman behaviors. Solidarity is becoming more and more visual in the world again. But, we must not let it slide away.
 
And to put it in Joe's words :

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

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



BBC radio6 aired four songs from the Buxton show. They are worth it, but I think, will not be online forever. (correct me if I'm wrong there). So go over there and listen !
On that subject, I'd like to put in a request to release a live EP, or LP of some important songs, and messages.



Next stop for these 2 will be Australia. 
April 19, 2017 : Sydney Opera House
April 20, 2017 : The playhouse, Canberra
April 22, 2017 : Melbourne Recital Centre
April 23, 2017 : Melbourne Recital Centre

woensdag 25 januari 2017

This saturday some Live tracks from Joe and Billy




This saturday, on BBC Radio 6 there will be an exclusive 4 Livetracks from the 'Shine a Light' show at Buxton Opera House. Tune in on the Tom Robinson Show.

Tune in at 21:00h local time.
Afterwards I'll keep you posted for a possible link to relisten.

Edit : 29 Januari 2017

BBC 6 aired the  following songs
  • Why we Build the wall (B. Bragg)
  • The Midnight Special (J. Henry & B. Bragg)
  • The L&N Don't stop here anymore (J. Henry & B. Bragg)
  • Between the Wars (B. Bragg)

You have 29 days to listen to the stream at BBC6. It starts at 36:50 min.  

I hoped in advance to hear Billy's version of Anaïs Mitchell's 'Why we build the wall', and there it was. Thanks for that. But, I must admit, and here is the Joe Henry fan speaking, I was a bit dissapointed in hearing 2 Solosongs by Billy Bragg , and none by Joe Henry. But no worries, these are great sounding performances. The songs aired are too important these days, not to share. So I guess the only solutions in this matter is airing the enitre show. Because it's too important !




zondag 22 januari 2017

You Scare me to Death

Yesterday I reread Josh Hurst his review from JH’s album Civilians. In his review he spoke about the year 2007. It struck me, that I could change it to 2017, and the review was still valid. “Why do I reread reviews from a decade ago ?” You’re probably thinking. I guess you are right in thinking that.

You see, I think I’ll have to admit to myself that ‘Civilians’ has become one of my all time favorite albums. There is not 1 year that has passed, where I didn’t take the CD from the shelf and played it, or, like now, put it in the car, where it stays for weeks. Yesterday something struck me, which made me wonder how people looked at this album when it was released. And there you go, I’m rereading a review.

Today, I wanted to talk to you about 1 particular song : ‘Scare me to death’.  With everything that is going on in the world today, I listened to it completely in a new manner. It happened when I heard the first line : “I’ve seen the best, and the worst you can be”. I instantly thought about the differences between President Obama and President Trump. In that light, I continued on listening. Going deeper and deeper into the song, I started realizing (for me) it is not merely about 1 person, 1 nation or 1 group of people. Yesterday, Today and probably for now on, I think this song is universal. I’ve been thinking, since yesterday about it. Not what it means to me, but how to explain it. How do I express what I heard? I don’t think I can explain the subject of this song in 1 word. So let me make an effort here in trying to explain it.

The notion of democracy. I don’t mean democracy, that doesn’t scare me. I mean the notion of it. If you take it as it comes, there is nothing to it. It’s just the way things are, but the moment you start thinking about what it implies…. Neither do I mean a political party, I’m talking about living in a free democratic world.
What does it mean having the notion of it ? Does it mean cherishing it in your heart, or does it mean thinking about how it works? Mind or Heart? Thinking or Feeling?... You guessed it. You can’t have one without the other. If you don’t think about it, you’re cherishing something you don’t know what it implies. The other way around, you are learning and setting rules of something you have no feeling for. Like my previous post I make a comparison to art. If you love, for instance, playing music, you have to learn how to play it, and perhaps think about how it can evolve. But at the same time you’re expressing your feelings with it. To express what you feel, you need to learn the tools.

Back to my ‘notion of Democracy’. Today more and more people are very aware. I (and I’m sure many others) are witnessing the worst it can be, but f.e. seeing the global protest of this weekend’s Women Marches. I’ve also seen the best it can be.
Today we are aware of it. But, in history, and I fear also in time, we can loose our notion, and take it for granted. At that moment, some start abusing the system. They mislead the public into choosing things they didn’t want. And then they’ll say, it was chosen democratically. The system has been abused, because at that moment, the democratic choice, is something completely different than what the public wants. 
These days, here in Belgium, our (extreme) right winged sides are jumping on the wave they see currently in US and UK’s leadership. They started up their propaganda in trying to convince the people that’s the way forward for us. We have elections in 2018, and the notion that in our democracy everything is possible, that scares me to death. But at the same time it keeps me aware, and wants me to keep aware.

We have to keep the current flame awake together, because on our own, we quickly slide again in taking things for granted. We must not loose it like a quick stolen breath, because if we do, we open the door for people to abuse it for their own personal benefit.

Where lust takes the toll, of a quick stolen breath

With this I hope you understand what I wanted to express. I wouldn’t call this song a protest song, because it doesn’t protest anything. It is a powerful reminder. Never forget!

Greetings,
Stefan



I've seen the best
And the worst you can be
And all while you're getting
The better of me

You're fragile but wicked
And fleeting as breath
And you move up behind me
And scare me to death

At war between
All good intentions and greed
My love is the kind
Where want becomes need

Where lust takes the toll
Of a quick stolen breath
You stir within me
And scare me to death

A dose now
Of either heart or of mind
Can be lethal, it seems
If they're not combined

They show but contempt
When considered as two
And pretend that each
Is the other to you

Now you spit in your hands
And haul on the rope
And fill up my cup
With the worst kind of hope

You lift me with words
I haven't found yet
I fall like your shadow
And you scare me to death

You sleep here beside me
And scare me to death

vrijdag 20 januari 2017

Farewell Mr. Obama

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

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

Today? What do I do today?

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

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

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

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

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



Greetings,
Stefan.

maandag 16 januari 2017

A 'Jay Bellerose' anecdote


Sometimes you find stories in unexpected places.

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

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

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

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

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

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