Bettye LaVette

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

Bettye LaVette’s ‘Worthy’ out today

BettyeLaVette_WorthyWell, I’m only about three listens in to the exceptional, Joe Henry-produced new album by Bettye LaVette, but I’m more than comfortable placing Worthy in my personal Top Five Joe Henry Productions.  A true master class of song selection, production, pacing and performace, Worthy lives up to its title and then some. It’s hard to know where to start — certainly the additional decade of experience between JH and Bettye LaVette is on full display (remember that back in 2004 JH was actually a somewhat new name among hired producers).  As always, the players on a JH production play a key role.  Along with stellar support from Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Bruce and Jay Bellerose (and yes, Levon Henry contributes a horn arrangement to one track), I’d have to give the MVP nod to Patrick Warren’s piano, which adds perhaps the most unexpectedly distinctive voice to the songs. Of course, nothing can compare to LaVette’s uncanny ability to transform others’ songs into something quite her own.  Her interpretive gifts are a wonder to behold and this record more than justifies her place among the elite singers of our time. A few release day notes…

  • Bettye LaVette was slated to begin her two-week residency at Café Carlyle in NYC, but I believe tonight’s performance has been postponed or canceled due to the ongoing blizzard in the Northeast.  Check with the venue for confirmation and word on the rest of the week’s performances.
  • Jim Farber has a nice article on LaVette in the New York Daily News.
  • There’s a great piece in this month’s Mix Magazine, with JH and Ryan Freeland discussing the recording of Worthy.
  • You can hear the record in its entirety over at The Wall Street Journal.
  • Mark Deming has a rave review of the record on All Music Guide.
  • PopMatters’ Colin McGuire give Worthy and 8 out of 10.
  • Blurt’s Michael Toland delivers an insightful, four-star review.
  • Photos from Wednesday’s performance at Café Carlyle (Bettye was also interviewed by Paul Schaefer).
  • A recent interview with The Guardian.
  • UPDATED:  Josh Hurst contributes his review to Medium.

BTW, my autographed copy arrived yesterday, which can be purchased from LaVette’s website, in both the standard edition and deluxe edition (which includes a DVD performance from July 2014 in London).