Joe Henry Early Spring Update

Well, it’s spring (isn’t it?), and there are a few exciting bits of news floating around the JH universe at the moment…

  • The new JH-produced duets album from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell is titled The Traveling Kind and will be released by Nonesuch on May 12.  Pre-order here, and check out the title track over at Rolling Stone.
  • The Milk Carton Kids will release their highly anticipated new record on May 19.  It’s called Monterey and was recorded live in Nashville at the Downtown Presbyterian Church.  Oh, and of course JH provides his customary commentary to introduce the record – check it out here.
  • JH recently visited with Krista Tippett of On Being.  You can listen to the podcast and check out a live performance video of “Sparrow” here.
  • JH also had a great conversation with Kyle Meredith on The Weekly Feed.  Check it out below…

That’s all I got for now, folks!

Joe Henry on Acoustic Cafe (from Americana Fest)

While attending last month’s Americana Fest in Nashville, JH stopped by Acoustic Cafe’s studios to tape a segment.  His performance and interview can be heard on Episode #1032 (the episode is broken into segments on the website, with performance kicking in around 5:00 min on Segment Two).

Also while in Nashville, JH recorded a video performance at RCA’s historic Studio A, which has been threatened by development and become something of a rallying point for artists.  JH gives us his very unique, open-tuning take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”  Stunning.

(Hat tip: Stefan)

Late summer Joe Henry update

It’s hard to believe that summer is nearly over, and by all appearances, it’s been a busy one for Joe Henry.  A few updates of note:

  • Rodney Crowell recently sent an update about his new record with Emmylou Harris.  The recording sessions in Nashville will be followed up with additional sessions in October.
  • JH was recently in Ireland to record a Christmas record for singer Caitriona O’Leary.  Stefan has done a terrific job of compiling updates and information about the various participants.
  • You can purchase yet another pre-release track from the forthcoming Look Again To The Wind project (due Aug. 19), this one from Steve Earle & The Milk Carton Kids (and it’s terrific).
  • JH debuted a video for “Slide” – enjoy…

A few 2011 odds & ends…

Well, 2011 saw the end, more or less, to my previous music blog, Houston Ramblings.  I decided to make some effort to keeping this blog a going concern and found very little time (or inspiration) for any additional blogging.  As such, I no longer have an outlet for the usual year-end lists, and I hope you'll indulge me a bit for sharing a few of my favorite musical highlights from the past year.  I've got some detailed notes typed up for each of these albums, but for now I thought you might enjoy a quick rundown of my 2011 Favorite Albums.

  1. Joe Henry – Reverie
  2. Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son
  3. Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender (technically a very late 2010 release)
  4. Sam Phillips – Cameras In The Sky (from her subscriber-only digital project The Long Play)
  5. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
  6. Wilco – The Whole Love
  7. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
  8. The Black Keys – El Camino
  9. Hugh Laurie – Let Them Talk
  10. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)

Whew!  Feels good to get that off my chest.

Joe Henry mix from Paris DJ’s

Following Nicolas Ragonneau's great interview with Joe Henry, Paris DJ's has posted a unique podcast mix of his solo and production work.  Notably, the mix includes a couple of rarities, including JH's production of a Swell Season track (from Levi's Pioneer Sessions) and a b-side from the "This Afternoon" single.

Definitely worth your time to download it and check it out!

Final contest winner

I want to apologize for taking so long to select the "essay contest" winner of the Over The Rhine contest in February.  I still would like to post the other few essays that were submitted, but here is the submission from JS Ritchie in Canada…


Joe Henry is, quite simply, my favourite artist. His music is like no other, and news of a pending Henry release, production or concert generates a feeling of anticipation that is difficult to describe to anyone who doesn't share my fascination with his talents.

I first heard Murder of Crows while working in a music store. I drove the rest of the staff nuts playing the tape over and over again. (It wasn't exactly suited for a suburban mall demographic, but I didn't care.) Shuffletown is another favourite – quiet, and smooth and an early sign of where he would wind up musically on his later albums. I still love these two albums even though I've read Joe doesn't care much for his early stuff now.  Short Man's Room and Kindness of the World are good – I played them a lot in their day, but I don't listen to them much now. Somewhere around this time I got Talk of Heaven on CD. I wish I could say I like it, but it really is just a curiosity for me.

Then came a stream of albums that I still can't stop listening too. When Trampoline came out I was struck by Joe's transformation evidenced by songs like Bob & Ray, Ohio Air Show Plane Crash and Medicine. This was different, and better, than anything I'd heard from him before. Fuse fueled my passion – Joe was really onto something here as the pictures he painted with words and music just got richer and richer. And then…Scar. Wow. From the first notes of Richard Pryor… I was drawn in like no other album. Truly one of the Best. Albums. Ever. Tiny Voices had 'Sold' (probably my favourite Joe Henry song ever, although 'God Only Knows' comes close) and this album cemented his status with me. Civilians and Blood from Stars are masterpieces. What next? How can one artist continue this run of fantastic music? No, really, how? I can't think of another artist who just kept getting better and better with every album. 

In addition to his own releases, there are the albums he has produced which have introduced me to so many other musicians that just never get played on the radio, and that's a shame because the music is brilliant. 

Twice I have made 12-hour round-trip solo journeys from Canada to Ann Arbor to see Joe and his band. Each time my wife just shakes her head, but knows it is pointless to suggest the journey is excessive. I'm going, and nobody's gonna stop me.

I wish he was more popular that he is – he deserves to be heard by everyone – but there is a selfish part of me that enjoys keeping him to myself, like a treasure that is mine, and nobody else I know has one like it. His music is sincere, deep, and passionate, and I am thankful for every piece of music he has sent our way, either his own band's or those he has produced. That sounds effusive, I know, but I can think of no other artist that has affected me as deeply as Joe Henry. 

JS Ritchie, Canada

Thanks to everyone else who entered – the other two winners were notified a few weeks ago.


A cup of Joe

Yeah, yeah – like, the most obvious pun ever.  Anyway, you might not be aware that Joe Henry has his own signature espresso blend.  Jack The Bear is available from the fine folks at Equator Coffees & Teas here.  

I just finished my first bag of Jack The Bear, as a matter of fact, and – surprise – I highly recommend it to you espresso enthusiasts out there.

(Thanks to Josh for the tip!)

Welcome, 2011 – welcome back, JH fans

Well, I haven't disappeared entirely, and I wanted to assure all of you Joe Henry fans that I'm still here, and I'm still committed to making this blog something worth checking out from time to time.

2010 was capped, of course, by the release of Over The Rhine's The Long Surrender, which was not only my favorite record of the year but probably is my favorite Joe Henry production to date.  I suppose that is largely a product of the fact that OtR is also one of my favorite artists.  But beyond that, it just seems to me a rare pairing of such kindred spirits.  It's amazing to hear Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler drift so close to the space that JH so comfortably occupies in his own songwriting, that elusive intersection of music and poetry.  They have never been better, and it's only fitting that a producer of Joe's caliber was there to shepherd the effort (you might check out Josh's revised list of his favorite JH productions).

2011 promises to be yet another big year for Joe Henry.  I only have hearsay of several projects, but each of them will be exciting and unique in their own right.  The Hugh Laurie project, completed in October of last year, spanned multiple recording sessions and one can assume that it will see the light of day shortly (though I've not heard about any labels or release dates).  The collaboration with Rosanne Cash and Billy Bragg was delayed from its planned November recording date but is apparently still very much in the works with projected sessions for March.

Most exciting, however, is the whisper on the wind that Joe Henry himself is about ready to record another album of his own, most likely in the early part of 2011.  Assuming that is true, we are very likely to be blessed with another masterpiece this year.  I have no doubt that plenty of other projects are lurking in the near future, but any or all of those projects hold the promise of a big year for Joe and his fans.

As a small token of my gratitude for your continued support, I"m going to be having a little contest in the coming days.  I've got a seed of idea that might make it a bit unique and fun so I hope you'll check back later in the week for the details.

I haven't blogged much lately – and have pretty much abandoned my other blogs – but I hope you'll take me at my word when I say that this has been a wonderfully rewarding endeavor, primarily due to the kind words of support I've received from my fellow Joe Henry fans.  I've enjoyed so much hearing from kindred musical spirits, literally from all over the globe.  I'll be dedicating my blogging efforts in 2011 solely toward making this a site worthy of the artist to whom it's dedicated – and his loyal fans.

-David Kennedy