Joe Henry European tour kicks off today; listen to XPN Free At Noon session

Joe Henry will kick off the European leg of his tour in support of Invisible Hour today in London (full tour date schedule here).  The tour hits several countries over the next two weeks, before returning to the U.S. for a brief trek (starting June 20 in San Francisco).

In other touring news, Time Is A Lion reports that JH will be touring Australia in September (dates listed here).

And finally, to get you further excited about next week’s album release, check out last week’s performance at WXPN.

Wild Edges: A Recap

(Apologies for the relative lateness of this post, but as you know – since you are reading this post at the new site – I’ve been a little busy with the move of the blog.  Thanks for your patience and thanks for checking out the new blog location. – DK)

Wild_EdgesJosh Hurst – a friend and occasional contributor to this blog – joked this past weekend about how he personally “willed into existence” last year’s collaboration between Elvis Costello and The Roots, two acts for whom he is very passionate.  One could make a similar observation that Wild Edges – a commissioned performance of original songs from Joe Henry, Over The Rhine and The Milk Carton Kids – might have likewise been the result of subconscious prayer and wishful thinking from Josh, myself or any number of fans of these intertwined talents.

Setting aside the complete uniqueness of the event (over two nights at Durham’s Hayti Heritage Center), one could conceivably worry that the endeavor would look better on paper than it would sound in execution.  It is, after all, a tall order for artists to compose and perform original music, never heard in public in any format, and connect it to the ears of an expectant audience.  If anticipation was already high, the stunning and intimate setting of the Hayti certainly raised the stakes.

All that said, however, it will surprise few readers of this blog that I and – judging from their exuberant reaction – nearly everyone in attendance walked away from the two nights with all expectations met and exceeded, not to mention souls and spirits nourished and renewed.  The premise was to connect selections from the Great American Songbook – which in this context was represented by inspirations such as “Delia’s Gone”, “The Needle and The Damage Done”, “Spring Can Hang You Up The Most” and many others – to the new songs.  Those connections were occasionally explicit but mostly provided springboards for the compositions, which, according to Henry, would have to “fight it out in the streets,” just like any other songs.

And fight they did; though in these capable hands, they mostly floated like butterflies while occasionally stinging like bees.  Almost every song had something unique to offer.  Henry’s “The Glorious Dead” certainly sounded like something lifted directly from his own songbook, but, as Linford Detweiler pointed out, sounded like “an unearthed hymn.”  “Dangerous Love” was a swinging tune on its own merits, but Levon Henry’s wicked saxophone solo that capped off the performance wrenched it off its foundations.  Both evenings opened with “Los Lunas,” which was as perfect a song as I’ve heard Karin Bergquist sing, underpinned by Kenneth Pattengale’s lilting pedal steel.  Joey Ryan had several standout performances, and his voice proved to be a key ingredient on many of the evening’s songs.  Ryan reliably provided dry comic relief in between more than a few of the songs.

The cast was superbly accompanied by Henry regulars Jennifer Condos (bass) and Jay Bellerose (drums, percussion and assorted noise), along with Levon on clarinet and saxophone.  The performances were packed with musical highlights but certainly his contributions were among the most indelible.  Likewise, Pattengale no doubt shocked the audience with his vast reserves of instrumental talent, which included impressive work on pedal steel, dobro, electric guitar, accordion and piano.  The number of participants ranged from two (when Pattengale accompanied Bergquist with his soulful piano on a tune only played during the second evening) to all participants, with all points in between as various cast members left the stage briefly.  Unsurprisingly, with this batch of talent, the arrangements never threatened to overshadow or suffocate the songs themselves.

The proceedings were recorded by engineer Ryan Freeland for possible future release, and after two nearly flawless presentations, one should anticipate that little will prevent that from happening.

Followers of these acts are most likely the type of music fans who hold dear the notion that music is more than mere entertainment and can occasionally achieve transcendence.  My guess is that all who bore witness to these miraculous two nights of music walked away with that assumption both intact and fortified.

Here are a couple of reviews from the local North Carolina press:

Wild Edges anticipation builds

Duke University's Independent Daily has a little more backstory on this week's Wild Edges performance at the Hayti Center in Durham, as well as some information on what may happen with the live recordings.

Also, check out Karin and Linford's photo feed for some behind-the-scenes pictures of this week's rehearsals.

The Milk Carton Kids to release live DVD on April 29

Well, it’s Wild Edges week, as Joe Henry, The Milk Carton Kids and Over The Rhine convene in Durham, NC, for two consecutive nights sure to filled with mystery and wonder.  The shows are now sold out, but you can read about the event here (and yes, I’ll be attending so look for a recap next week).

In the meantime, you can check out a clip from The Milk Carton Kids’ upcoming DVD release Live From Lincoln Theatre.  The show will be released on April 29, as a standalone DVD, deluxe bundle with The Ash & Clay or a digital download.

The DVD will arrive two weeks prior to the Kids kicking off a massive (and increasingly sold out) U.S. tour (dates listed here).

UPDATE 4/28:  DVD and download due tomorrow, but NPR has a video stream of the whole thing here.

UPDATE:  A preview video from Anti-…

Joe Henry to tour U.S. in June

JH has announced a string of tour dates in North America, starting at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on June 20.  On June 21, he will celebrate the release of Invisible Hour (due June 3) with two sets at Largo in Los Angeles.  The first set will be perfromed solo and the second with his band.  Tickets are available for each set separately, or purchased as a package for both sets.

You can find the full deck of tour dates at JH's website.  Dates below…

  • June 20: Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
  • June 21: Largo, Los Angeles (two sets: solo acoustic, followed by full band)
  • June 24: The Birchmere, Washington, D.C.
  • June 25: City Winery, New York
  • June 26: World Cafe Live, Philadelphia
  • June 27: Brighton Music Hall, Boston

Joe Henry 2014 European tour

JH has quietly announced a tour of Europe in 2014, kicking off on May 28 in London.  Dates posted here, and here…

  •  May 28, Purcell Room, London GB
  • June 4, Teatro Lara, Madrid ES
  • June 5, Luz de Gas, Barcelona ES
  • June 6, Escenario Santander, Santander ES
  • June 7, Niemeyer Club, Aviles ES
  • June 9, People’s Palace, Amsterdam NL
  • June 10, Handelsbeur, Ghent BE
  • June 11, DR Koncerthus, Copenhagen DK
  • June 12, BergenFest, Bergen NO

Joe Henry (brief) winter update

Just a few activities of note to keep you JH fans excited:

  • Based on Joe’s Facebook postings last week, it would appear that the Johnny Cash Bitter Tears project has commenced recording.  According to JH, visitors to Garfield House included Kris Kristofferson, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Rhiannon Giddens (from Carolina Chocolate Drops).
  • The live session from KEXP in December has made the rounds on NPR’s website, and “Swayed” (one of the new songs from the upcoming Invisible Hour) is available for download as a video podcast.
  • JH joined a host of wonderful aritsts at The Troubadour in LA for a tribute to the late Phil Everly.
  • UPDATE:  I also meant to note that the folks at American Songwriter were kind enough to post a recent article from their January issue, which features The Milk Carton Kids discussing one of their mentors (guess who).

That’s about all I know for now, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty about Invisible Hour in the coming months.

Joe Henry with Over The Rhine & Milk Carton Kids (Durham, NC – April 11 & 12)

JH will team with Over The Rhine and The Milk Carton Kids for a very unique event in April, performing at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC.

From The Milk Carton Kids' website:

"In April, the band will join forces with friends for their new project Wild Edges. In collaboration: Joe HenryOver The Rhine and The Milk Carton Kids. The result is a one-of-a-kind ensemble set to engage the "Great American Songbook," performing a set of songs that embraces songwriters from Robert Johnson to Jimmy Webb, Woody Guthrie to Nina Simone. The all-star group unites for an only-at-Duke Performances special event: in front of a live audience at Hayti Heritage Center–Henry, Over the Rhine, and The Milk Carton Kids will perform and record an album of new songs they wrote together."

So if that sounds like something you'd be interested in… tickets still available here.

Joe Henry performance on KEXP

JH stopped by the Seattle studios of KEXP while winding up his recent mini-tour.  The December 7 acoustic performance will give you some idea of what his recent concerts were like.  Even better, he plays two new songs (“Swayed” and “Plainspeak”) from the forthcoming Invisible Hour.  (Photos from the session here.)

I think Joe Henry fans are in for an exciting 2014!