Partners In Crime

Autumn Joe Henry update


Well, we've had several nights in the 50's here in Houston, which must mean the rest of you in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying between seasonal and frigid conditions.  As such, I apologize for the lack of posts recently and hope this will catch you up on a few recent JH happenings.

  • Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him, by David Henry and Joe Henry, has just been released by Algonquin Books.  The hardcover recently shipped and the e-book should be out any day now.  Brothers David and Joe will be doing a few signings around the country, if you can catch them.  This is at the top of my reading list – can't wait!
  • JH will be delivering a few more acoustic performances in December, following his rousing sucess at Largo this past July.  Dates are as follows:  Dec 3, Minneapolis; Dec 4, Chicago; Dec 5, Ann Arbor; Dec 7, Seattle.  Not to be missed if you are nearby.
  • UK duo Chas & Dave have just released their new record That's What Happens, produced by JH at Abbey Road Studios.  It is available at Amazon UK (still awaiting delivery of my copy).
  • Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil Warwas released yesterday by ATO Records.  This unique project celebrates a unique period in American and American music history.  JH contributes several productions by artists like Taj Mahal, Chris Hillman, John Doe and T-Bone Burnett.  He is also backed on a track of his own by The Milk Carton Kids (you can hear the whole record over at Garden & Gun).
  • Speaking of whom, I had the great pleasure of seeing The Milk Carton Kids at their sold out Houston show last night.  They'll be heading back to LA and hosting a revue at Largo next Tuesday, Nov 12.  Who knows who might turn up?  They'll also be back at Largo on Saturday, Nov 16.
  • Close JH friend Sam Phillips will also be at Largo this weekend for her only solo shows of the year (Nov 9 is sold out, Nov 10 is on sale).  She will be backed by JH cohorts Jay Bellerose, Jennifer Condos and Greg Leisz.
  • Over The Rhine will wind up their fall tour on the West Coast in the coming weeks.  They will continue to be backed by Jay Bellerose, Jennifer Condos and Eric Heywood, who contributed their talents to their double CD Meet Me At The Edge Of The World.  Dates here – I can't imagine who might turn up at The El Rey!
  • You might recall that New West Records auctioned a number of 7-inch singles to benefit Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap earlier in the year.  On Nov 12, they will release a compliation of the tracks, which feature a number of production contributions from JH as well as his excellent take of "Taken On The Chin."  The 2 CD set will feature tracks not previously available.
  • Glen Hansard will release an EP on Nov 25, featuring his epic cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Drive All Night".  The track features vocals from JH and Eddie Vedder, plus sax by Jake Clemons (nephew of Clarence Clemons).  The track was recorded at Garfield House and produced by JH.  You can hear the song over at Rolling Stone.

That's about all I know for now.  I know of at least one artist who has recently graced the basement of Garfiled House, and I would expect to hear about that project in the coming months.  And, of course, all indications are that we'll be hearing about a new JH album any day now.  Fingers crossed!

Over The Rhine to tour with Joe Henry regulars

Just a quick note… Over The Rhine sent out their July newsletter last weekend and announced that the key players on their new JH-produced album – Jennifer Condos, Jay Bellerose and Eric Heywood – will be joining them on tour in the fall.

Any time you can catch Over The Rhine or any of these fantastic musicians is a rare treat.  Seeing them together is a must-not-miss event.  Tour dates here (starting in September to promote Meet Me At The Edge Of The World, due Sep. 3).

Latest ‘Songs For Slim’ release features Joe Henry & Jakob Dylan

Sfs_dylan-henry250You may recall that Joe Henry has played a significant role in a string of vinyl and digital releases benefitting ex-Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap.  JH and much of his regular wrecking crew have already contributed to tracks by Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams.

The latest Songs For Slim release features not only two JH productions but a track by Joe himself.  Here's the description from the SFS website:

This month we’re excited to announce a single with fantastic tracks from Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers and Joe Henry. Dylan and his crack band of A-list LA session players (Jennifer Condos, Jay Bellerose, Greg Leisz, Keefus Ciancia and Val McCallum) offer up a rollicking, bluesy interpretation of “Ain’t No Fair (In A Rock ‘N’ Roll Affair),” a classic Slim rocker and crowd favorite. Recorded in North Hollywood and produced by Joe Henry, “Ain’t No Fair” also features a guest appearance by John Doe (X, The Knitters) on backing vocals. Speaking ofJoe Henry, his work over the last three decades has made him a favorite of discriminating music fans worldwide, distinguishing himself both as an ever-evolving solo artist and an in-demand producer. He’s also been a key part of the Songs For Slim project; his contributions as producer for several of the SFS releases have been invaluable. This month he takes center stage for an impassioned reading of “Taken On The Chin,” Slim’s mournful journey to the dark side of life. Henry delivers a stunning vocal performance as he and a slightly different batch of fab session-eers (David Piltch, Jay Bellerose, Val McCallum, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren and his son Levon) masterfully create a piece that hits the listener straight in the gut with an emotional wallop that won’t soon be forgotten. It’s brilliant on every level.

The auction for this latest vinyl release is now closed, but all of the mentioned tracks are available digitally on iTunes (link, link, link).  Next month will feature a John Doe track, which I strongly suspect will feature JH behind the boards once again.

Hugh Laurie’s ‘Didn’t It Rain’ to be released in UK next week

If you're across the pond, you are probably getting a lot more hype for the new album from Hugh Laurie, which is due May 6 in the UK.  Didn't It Rain finds Laurie reteaming with producer Joe Henry and most of the original cast who played on the widely acclaimed Let Them Talk.

Laurie's YouTube channel is the best bet to get a taste, including a live stream of a session at Abbey Road Studios tomorrow (Fri, May 3).  The performance will air at 7pm GMT.

Looks as though the release of Didn't It Rain will closely follow the pattern of Let Them Talk – a UK release to be followed in the US (hopefully) later in the year.  American fans who can't wait should probably order via Amazon UK (in a variety of formats, including vinyl and and a deluxe book edition).  My experience is that their US shipping rates are pretty reasonable compared to other alternatives.

In the meantime, check out this Making Of clip featuring Laurie and JH talking about the new record…

Joe Henry odds & ends, Springtime Edition

Since there's been a good deal of activity in the Joe Henry universe, I thought it would be a good time to recap:

  • The big news, obviously, was that Over Then Rhine made the journey out to Pasadena last week to commence work of their new record.  It would appear that recording continues this week, and you can keep up with the process over at the band's Facebook page.
  • JH, OtR, Billy Bragg and others joined The Milk Carton Kids onstage last week at Largo to celebrate the duo's new record The Ash & Clay.  I have to say this is a gorgeous record, and it bears mentioning that Ryan Freeland engineered the album (and JH again contributed a wonderful introduction in the liner notes).  Get this album immediately!
  • Of course, the first JH-produced release of 2013 is Billy Bragg's latest, Tooth & Nail, which was released only two weeks ago.  It took me a few spins to warm up to it, but I also have this one on heavy rotation.  I'm not sure what Billy's hardcore base will think of it, as he is certainly in a mellower, more reflective mood throughout.  I think his voice is absolutely lovely on the album, and he's written some wonderful love songs this time.
  • Lisa Hannigan's brilliant guitarist John Smith just released a solo album titled Great Lakes.  I believe it features a JH co-write or two, and it is quite an engaging album.  Available as an import, or in the US via iTunes.
  • One more Ryan Freeland note: his considerable skills as recording engineer are also on display on the arresting duo album, Night, from Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt, which is probably my favorite record of 2013 thus far.  Stunning on so many levels.
  • UPDATE:  Somehow I missed that the new Hugh Laurie album is already in the can and slated for a UK release.  Didn't It Rain will be available on May 6 — all the details here.  Check out a couple of new tracks and see some of our favorite players in action over at Laurie's YouTube channel.

I'll leave you on this note…


Over The RhineIt may come as no surprise, but it is extremely welcome news nonetheless that Over The Rhine have enlisted Joe Henry once again as producer for their next record.  Their first effort with JH at the helm, The Long Surrender, qualifies as both my favorite OtR album and my favorite JH production (outside of his own solo records).  So please forgive my relentless, all-caps enthusiasm.

Joining the band for this journey will be drummer Jay Bellerose (naturally), bassist Jennifer Condos (Tiny Voices, anyone?) and guitarist/pedal steel guitarist Eric Heywood (most recently the subject of a brief profile here).  I'm just as excited about this combination of musicians, who many of you may recognize as the core team of Ray LaMontagne's Pariah Dogs, though their affiliation with JH stretches back many years.

You can still support this record, which has been fan-funded in a similar manner to The Long Surrender.  Let's make a record, indeed.  And here's to a dozen more just like it!

P.S. And don't forget, all you Angelenos, to head down to Largo tonight to catch The Milk Carton Kids, who will be celebrating their brand new record The Ash & Clay with friends like Joe Henry and Over The Rhine.


Bellerose/Piltch on new Madeleine Peyroux record ‘The Blue Room’

MadeleinePeyroux04As any Joe Henry fan knows, the pairing of drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist David Piltch often leads to something magical.  The two have reteamed for the latest album from Madeleine Peyroux called The Blue Room (which was released yesterday).  Though her recent albums have featured a co-write with JH, as well as guest appearances from folks like Marc Ribot and Allen Toussaint, this is first time she's nabbed our favorite rhythm section since her (arguably best) record Half The Perfect World.

Fittingly, the record is largely made up of songs that appeared on Ray Charles' landmark album Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music.  Peyroux offers some very unique interpretations, and my initial impression is this is easily her best effort since Perfect World and probably my favorite recording of hers to date.

More info here; order here.

‘Songs For Slim’ benefit 45 single, feat. Steve Earle (produced by Joe Henry)

Sfs_finn-earle250Well, here's something awesome for you vinyl and Joe Henry enthusiasts!  

New West Records has been spearheading a campaign to raise money for Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke last year and needs help with his rehabilitation.  The Replacements reunited to record an EP called Songs For Slim, and the vinyl 10-inch edition was offered for auction in a limited edition of 250 copies.  That auction raised over $106K for Slim's family (wow!).

Now they are gearing up a follow-up campaign, featuring artists like Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and many others.  These releases will be 45-inch singles pressed on colored vinyl in limited editions of 100.  Each auction will commence on the 15th of the month and last for seven days.

The Joe Henry-related news today is that the first single is up for auction and features Steve Earle and Craig Finn.  For Earle's track, he enlisted JH and some of his close associates: Jay Bellerose, Jennifer Condos, Greg Leisz, Keefus Ciancia and – new to the mix – guitarist Val McCallum, who is an ace guitarist you may have recently heard on Lucinda Williams' Blessed.  Since I'm a nut for Steve Earle as well, this release qualifies as a dream pairing in my book.  With folks like Lucinda and Ramblin' Jack slated for future auctions, might we see some more JH productions for this project?

Anyway, bidding starts at $50 for each single, and this month's auction ends this Thursday.  There are quite a few copies still with zero bids, so if this is right up your alley, head over to Ebay to hunt one down.  

Visit the Songs For Slim website for extensive info and updates.

UPDATE:  Thanks to JC Ritchie for pointing out that that these tracks will be made available digitally sometime shortly after the auction closes.  Will keep you posted on that.

The Milk Carton Kids Revue (feat. Joe Henry & others) – March 27, Largo LA

Mck_03-shot3_00385_WEB_resize_2The Milk Carton Kids recently signed with Anti- Records (also home to Joe Henry) and will celebrate their new release at Largo in West Hollywood on March 27 (the album The Ash & Clay will be released the day before, pre-order here).  JH has once again contributed a foreward to the release, which you can read on their website.

For their performance, they will be joined by friends including Joe Henry, Ed Helms, Over The Rhine, Jill Sobule and others.  Get your tickets early, as they have become favorites at the Largo.