Just a few odds and ends out of the Joe Henry universe (and nearby galaxies)…
First, JH and Levon should be wrapping up their brief Australian tour, which has been accompanied by some favorable press (a particularly nice article and interview in the Sydney Morning Herald).
JH will be returning stateside to appear very shortly thereafter at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville. Joe’s official showcase will be at City Winery on September 18, but I’m sure he’ll be seen around the festival elsewhere.
JH recently participated in a social media fundraising campaign for MusicCares. Various artists challenged three friends to post a picture of themselves with an album “that has made your life better” (along with a $5 donation to MusicCares). Stefan has the low-down over at his blog.
A few notes from some friends and associates…
Over The Rhine will be releasing yet another Christmas album. Blood Oranges in the Snow will be released on Nov. 4 and is described by Karin and Linford as “reality Christmas.” (I don’t believe that JH had any hand in its production, but well worth your attention nonetheless.)
The Milk Carton Kids will be touring this fall again with Sarah Jarosz, featuring “collaborative performances” between the artists. Full schedule here.
Some of you may know that I’m a shameless and die-hard Lucinda Williams fan. Her new record (the double-albumDown Where The Spirit Meets The Bone) will be released on her own label on September 30. At one time, JH was the rumored producer on this project. However, in his place, frequent JH accomplice and all-around string master Greg Leisz became the co-producer (along with Williams and manager Tom Overby) and also contributes his guitar wizardry to nearly every track. Bill Frisell, who collaborated with both JH and Leisz most notably on Civilians, lends his distinctive guitar work to two tracks (and is rumored to be featured on more tracks on yet another Lucinda record due sometime next year). Several tracks have made their way online through various outlets, but if you want to hear what magic Frisell and Leisz can conjure, feast your ears on the album’s closing track, a cover of JJ Cale’s “Magnolia” (nine-plus minutes long!). In my book, a Joe Henry album and Lucinda Williams album in the same year is pretty much all I could ask for.
And last but not least, this fall will see the release of two Bob Dylan projects. First, the long wished-for Complete Basement Tapes will be released on Nov. 4. A semi-related companion called Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapeswill be released on Nov. 11. That record will feature Dylan lyrics from the period written into songs and performed by a talented group comprised of Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Jim James and Marcus Mumford. JH mentor T-Bone Burnett oversaw and produced the whole thing. No doubt, Joe Henry is smiling.
So unless you happened to catch the the film Pleased To Meet Meat one of a handful of indie film festivals this year, you’ve probably been wondering what this project featuring the acting skills of Joe Henry is all about. Well, starting tomorrow, you can purchase the film in the iTunes store and find out for yourself.
The film, directed by Archie Borders, features a veritable who’s who of Joe Henry universe regulars: Aimee Mann, Karin Bergquist, Loudon Wainwright III and X’s John Doe in a lead role (Doe no stranger to acting himself). You can read more about the film here and watch the trailer below (which features a very sultry rendition of “Time Is A Lion” sung by Karin):
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!
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).
You 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.
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…