Joe Henry at the 2015 Fretboard Summit

As you may recall, JH participated in the first ever Fretboard Summit in November of 2015.  No doubt, many magical moments took place at this unique event, and you can get a glimpse of it now.  Here is a video of JH performing “Eyes Out For You” accompanied by the incomparable Bill Frisell on guitar.

Joe also conducted an amazing interview with David Crosby, and a podcast of that hourlong discussion can be found at FJ’s archive or on iTunes (Podcast #92).  The location for the 2nd Annual Fretboard Summit will be announced in late January.

In other Frisell news, he will release a new album on January 29.  When You Wish Upon A Star is his very unique spin on classic film music.

And after guesting on Lucinda Williams’ 2014 release Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, Frisell will appear on all but one track on her new record Ghosts of Highway 20, due on February 5.  Like its predecessor, it was co-produced by longtime JH cohort Greg Leisz, who also contributes guitar and pedal steel throughout.  Frisell will join Lucinda for her March 4 performance at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

New Joe Henry-produced track from Hayes Carll premieres on NPR

Hayes_2016The long-awaited new record from Hayes Carll will be released on April 8.  Lovers and Leavers was produced by Joe Henry and promises to highlight Carll’s more introspective songwriting.

NPR Music is featuring the track “The Love That We Need” and does not disappoint.  This is going to be a helluva record.

(BTW, over the holidays, I was fortunate to see Carll at The Mucky Duck in Houston.  All of the new material he played was top-notch, and he was joined on a few songs by singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, who also co-wrote “The Love That We Need” along with Jack Ingram.)

Allen Toussaint (1938-2015)

Muere-el-m-sico-Allen-Toussaint-a-los-77-a-os-de-edad-shaune-Fraser-campeon-panamericano-natacionIn stunning news, Allen Toussaint has passed away from a heart attack, following a concert performance in Spain.  Tributes are pouring in all over the internet, but I suppose you could start with this one from The Atlantic’s David A. Graham.

JH has not yet added his voice to the chorus of remembrances, but when he does, one can imagine that it will be the most essential of reading.

There is at least one bit of silver lining to this sad news: Toussaint completed a recording project a few weeks ago, helmed by JH.  In his Facebook post, engineer Ryan Freeland notes that he is beginning to mix the project today.  So it would appear that we will be treated to at least one final project from Toussaint and a long-awaited reuniting of Toussaint with Joe Henry as producer.

UPDATE:  JH and Nonesuch confirm the completion of the new record and a 2016 release.

Joe Henry: Dog Days Update

Well, it’s been a while, but there are some odds and ends to report.  So spike your iced tea and check out a few recent Joe Henry happenings…

  • JH has written a lovely tribute to the late producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, etc.).  You can read “Is It Rolling, Bob?: Remembering Producer Bob Johnston” over at NPR.
  • As you may recall, JH participated in a unique concert event with The Cincinnati Pops OrchestraAmerican Originals celebrated the work of songwriter Stephen Foster and also featured guests like Rosanne Cash and Over The Rhine.  Now the American Originals performances are slated for release on September 11, and you can hear Joe’s rendition of “O! Susannah” over at The Wall Street Journal.  Pre-order the album here.
  • A recent article about songwriter (and Houston native) Hayes Carll suggests that he will enlist JH as producer for his next record, to be recorded in LA in September (later confirmed by JH on Twitter).  As a longtime fan of Carll’s work, this is pretty exciting news to me, and I can’t wait to hear what they cook up together.  (Thanks to Stefan for the tip.)
    UPDATE:  Carll, who is appearing at the Houston Press Music Awards show tonight, discusses his upcoming record with the Houston Press.  Definitely sounds like it will be a more introspective affair than his previous records.
  • Stefan also has info regarding Joe’s upcoming appearance at the Aarhus Festival in Denmark.  Check it out.
  • Don’t forget to check out Joe Henry’s 2015 productions, Bettye LaVette’s superlative Worthy and the equally stunning new record from Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris entitled The Traveling KindBirds of Chicago recorded their upcoming album at Garfield House (the last recording to be made there) and is probably on track for an early 2016 general release.

That’s it for now.  As always, let me know if you hear news in and around the world of Joe Henry!

UPDATE:  And I guess because it’s my blog and I get to post whatever I like, I’ll rattle off a few of my favorite 2015 record releases thus far, in no particular order:

  • Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
  • The Milk Carton Kids – Monterrey
  • Ashley Monroe – The Blade
  • Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind
  • Bettye LaVette – Worthy
  • Steve Earle & The Dukes – Terraplane
  • Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn
  • Allison Moorer – Down To Believing
  • Wilco – Star Wars
  • Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville

The Milk Carton Kids’ ‘Monterey’ out this week

TheMilkCartonKidsThis record doesn’t have a lot of direct Joe Henry associations (though he does contribute an essay to the liner notes), but The Milk Carton Kids have been championed by JH pretty much from the get-go (in fact, he contributed vocals to Pattengale’s solo record pre-dating The Kids).  The duo’s popularity has exploded since the release of their last album, The Ash & The Clay, but fans will not be disappointed in the follow-up, Monterey, which is out on Anti- Records just this week.

Monterey is a brisk listen and, in my opinion, by far their most cohesive.  It’s more than the sum of its excellent songs, and the flow from one track to the next contains an urgency you wouldn’t expect from such a low-key record.  Recorded on the road and self-produced, this album represents a perfecting of the format they’ve adopted for themselves.

I recall not too long ago that they had said that they definitely had one more pure acoustic duo album ahead of them, but beyond Monterey, I wonder if we should expect them to branch out musically.  Pattengale is a rather accomplished multi-instrumentalist, but they’ve been so successful at their craft, it should be interested to see where The Milk Carton Kids go from here.

That is, after they wrap up their extensive tour, which carries them through to the end of 2015.  In the meantime, by all means check out Monterey, as well as this performance of the title track from the studios of World Café:

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell’s ‘The Traveling Kind’ out today

emmylou-rodney-extralarge_1427383873912Joe Henry adds a pretty serious Nashville record to his production resume today with the release of The Traveling Kind, the second duo record from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.  Which is not to say (obviously) that the album at all embraces the prevailing aesthetic of popular Nashville, but the album is a JH rarity in that none of his regular cohorts appear on it.  Instead, Harris and Crowell are surrounded by Music City stalwarts like guitarists Steuart Smith and Jedd Hughes and bassist Byron House.  It was recorded at Sound Emporium and The House of Blues, with recording and mixing by Justin Neibank.



To my ears, this record is both a continuation of and an improvement over their 2013 collaboration Old Yellow Moon.  Here are a few review links:

UPDATE III:  A great performance of “The Weight of the World” as performed for Rolling Stone (link also has a video for “The Traveling Kind”).  Jedd Hughes, who appears on the record and tours with the duo, provides lead guitar.