Emboldened by their three previous successes, Jo Henley have come up with a fine, smooth collection of 12 tracks that move with a seamless energy. Pleasant earthy roots music shine under the command of this three piece band and their guest players. Jo Henley is essentially lead singer and rhythm guitarist Andy Campolieto, lead guitarist, banjo and dobra player Ben Lee, and drummer-keyboardist Mike Dingley. Guests include bass player Tony Markellis from Trey Anastasio Band.
Opening track “It Can’t Rain All The Time” chugs right in with a beefy rhythm section and feisty guitar lines. Campolieto expresses his inner voice with an even handed vocal projection. He just puts its out there without fanfare and lets his voice slide into home base. There’s a mellow glow cast over the sonic structure of the musicianship with this vocalist’s gentle, easeful flow.
Roots acoustic melodies and a lilting rhythmic groove make “You And Me” glide by like a warm summer breeze. It’s good to hear music that has so much substance but doesn’t beat the listener over the head with its musical density. Campolieto makes even more of his easeful vocal style singing over light peppering of country piano lines and mellow acoustic guitar strumming. It could best be compared to early Grateful Dead classic like Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty in its complex structure and mellow performance.
“Nothing Lasts Forever” creates a climbing sensation, feeling like a muscular uphill march in its springy rhythm section. This makes you feel the song is taking you to a significant destination. It’s up-tempo section has a sprightly bounce in its groove and a chirpiness in the lead vocal and expression in the lead guitar, a phrase that speaks of positive vibes and good times gone by. It’s hard to pinpoint one single thing upon first listening to know what makes this song work. It’s the overall presentation of movement, climbing toward a narrative arc then becoming celebratory and festive. Jo Henley band just know how to take you there.
Campolieto becomes much more philosophical with his lyrical descriptions in “Never Can See The Sun.” He sings of missing out on great natural beauty that’s right in front of you. His chirpy timbre sounds fantastic without as much hard-charging music as his other tunes. There is a handsome acoustic lead guitar melody doing a sweet dance with a playful percussion groove. Drummer Mike Dingley milks every nuance out of his skins, and each piece comes alive with three-dimensional fullness.
“Better Off With Him” grooves along merrily with Dingley’s mellifluous organ melody. Campolieto offers heartfelt insight into a tepid relationship by comparing himself to the woman’s favorite movie star. His even-tempered vocal projections belie the seriousness of their nowhere relationship, and he finesses his vocal lines with folksy charm. A dripping guitar line tap dances around and takes the whole matter to a higher level of emotionalism.
Instrumental “Big City” bubbles up with dollops of sweet bass and amicable guitars conversing. Guest violinist Robert Dean chimes in majestically with a melodic line that shines on its own while shining ever brighter against whatever else is going on when he comes in. A piano tinkles with sprightly roots charm. A banjo plucks its timeless earthy tone. There is just so much feeling in this piece, like many of the greatest classical works. Each instrument has a personality and the person playing it has so much character that you feel a large group of people are moving around doing something amazing.
The country roots beat of “I’m Gonna Find It” has that shuffling sensation that makes the toes tap, the head bob, and the girls line dance. The roots styling makes this come alive with feisty spirit, honky tonk guitar riffs and Campolieto applying a country sensibility to his vocal expressions, especially in the open spaces he chooses to jump into. This one will make you feel like going to a country hoedown and grabbing a beer while your girl lets her hair down the dance floor.
The lead guitar line on “I Used To Be Young” speaks to the listener as much as the lead vocal. As Campolieto grooves mellow espousing his view of youth from a grown man’s perspective, Ben Lee presses out soulful, drawling melodic lines that make you feel what the song is about. An unusually sensitive player, Lee knows exactly what the song needs, and he supplies it with tasteful, tender restraint. His melodic phrase skates over the sonic landscape of the song perfectly.
Title track “The Fall Comes Early” comes in like a haunting ballad on the strength of some hearty guitar notes, notes that ring out with solid tones. Campolieto is at his most emotive, slowly but assertively crooning out this tender song over those moody guitar lines. There are some clever touches that give this song plenty of kick within its down tempo frame. One electric guitar jangles as another pays out a tempered phrase. An organ shimmers moodily in the backdrop and the rhythm section add enough gritty touches to build a hefty backbone for a song that walks softly but casts a huge shadow.
Jo Henley pick up the pace with a mid-tempo rocker called “Once Upon A Time.” The rhythm section is cruising and bopping along with an even pace that allows the organ to coat everything with its soulful timbre. The lead guitar constantly presses out a gritty phrase that jumps into action on the bridge, unleashing a bit more edge, like the turning point in a close game when you realize you’ve finally made it. Campolieto makes his way through the personal anthem of the chorus with a gentlemanly aplomb.
Jo Henley close out their album with an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace,” a timeless choir song that sounds interesting in this ringing, almost jangling electric guitar performance. The guitar takes its time unfolding its series of notes and tones, and it’s a pleasing finish to a very pleasant CD.
Jo Henley have come up with an interesting album their fourth time around the recording studio. Tender ballads, alt-country, roots rock are just a few of the key ingredients on The Fall Comes Early. Pristine instruments and vocals moving seamlessly forward keep the listener glued to this CD from opening to closing notes.
Safe and Sound
What a week.
On Monday, my wife, son, and I stepped outside under full sunshine and cloudless blue skies. It's technically called Patriot's Day, where the citizens of the Commonwealth honor the battle of Lexington and Concord and the start of the Revolutionary War, but few wake up on that day and think of musket battles in the now-swanky suburbs. Instead, the third Monday of April is known universally as Marathon Monday--an all-day party in the city of Boston and its surrounding neighborhods. We live in a college neighborhood, near BC, and since undergrads need no excuse to throw an all-day bash, waking up early to tap their kegs and drown their OJ with vodka, the police set up shop to keep the peace and make sure no one gets too out of hand.
Parked in front of our house was a uniformed officer sitting in the driver's seat of a cruiser, and next door a plainclothes cop wearing his badge on a chain around his neck chatted up our neighbors. When the officers saw my son, they threw him a wave and big friendly smiles. I pointed down at Anthony and joked, "He's probably the only kid on this street who's happy to see you this morning." They laughed, and the uniformed officer immediately invited Anthony down to check out the cruiser. Anthony hestitated a second--but just a second; as soon as the officer flipped the switch on the cruiser's lights and gave it a couple whoops of the siren, my son was smitten. He raced over and peered in at the dashboard as if he were being granted a peek into one of the secrets of the universe. What little boy isn't impressed by cops and cop cars, after all?
We thanked the officers for obliging our son and they gave us another hearty wave before we loaded Anthony into his stoller and pushed him from our front steps up the one-block incline to Commonwealth Ave., where a large crowd had lined the street with coolers and chairs and signs to cheer on the marathon participants. The wheelchair competitors, who go first, were streaking by. The world-class runners would be following soon, and then the rest of the runners, most of whom are in it for charity and/or purposes of personal accomplishment. About 1/4 mile down the road, the marathon route hangs a right, onto Chestnut Hill Rd., and then a left on Beacon Street, before winding up in Copley Square, right in front of the Boston Public Library on Boylston St.
It's a holiday in Boston. Almost no one has work or school. The Sox game starts at 11am. It's always a challenge to navigate the roadblocks and cordoned-off streets, and certain subway--or T--stops are temporarily shut down, so getting from place to place can be frustrating, but the atmosphere is so celebratory, and in most years, as luck would have it, the weather so wonderful, that these minor inconveniences hardly matter. Everyone is outside, happy, smiling, partying, full of joy. More times than I can count, Ellen and I have made our way all the way down into the thick of it, near Kenmore Square, Back Bay, and the finish line. The closer you get to the end of the race, though, the more congested it gets, and harder it is to find a table for lunch, which was what our goal was on Monday.
The plan was to make it as far as Kenmore Square and then see where things took us from there, but with Anthony in a stroller and I with a sore foot that had been nagging me all week we decided to first find a quieter place for lunch, so we climbed off the train a few blocks earlier than planned and ducked into a coffeeshop. Afterward, no specific reason at the time, instead of taking a left and heading back toward the marathon route, we went right and enjoyed a leisurely stroll for a couple of miles before jumping back on the T and heading home to get our car and head for our community garden plot. The weather was amazing, and I still had beets to plant, so this seemed like the perfect oppotunity to get that done. I felt a little bad about not making it down to Copley Squarea and joining in the party near the finish line, but I also knew I'd been there many times in the past, and would make it up by going back next year.
After the garden, we drove to Whole Foods in Cambridge and bought our groceries for the week. With most of the rest of the city downtown, the market was empty and quiet. On our way out, I got a text from Mike asking Ben and me if we were OK. I wasn't sure what he meant. Then Ellen's phone started buzzing off the hook. Something was obviously wrong. I called Ben. He told me something had happened at the marathon but he wasn't sure what. I texted Mike back. He said a car bomb had gone off at the finish line. Ellen was now on the phone with a friend who was down there and said there were two huge explosions and complete chaos. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. As thankful as I was to be in a car with my family, knowing we could drive as far as we needed or wanted to and escape whatever was going on at the marathon, I at the same time felt vulnerable and unsure of anything. It was as if we were under attack and everything about Boston, about our life, was about to be different. Unlike the BC undergrads in my neighborhood who were barely in elementary school in 2001, Ellen and I vividly remember 9/11 and what that day felt like. This felt not unlike September 11. We sped home through the deserted streets with the wail of sirens in the distance.
The next couple of days were strange as everyone tried their best to claim some sense of normalcy by going about their daily routines as much as possible, but everywhere you turned there was a reminder that life in this city was anything but normal: the subway was running, but it skipped over the Copley station, which is enormously popular; nearly the entirety of Boylston St., the site of the bombings, was prohibuted to the public and as empty as a ghost town in the old west, with everything left as it had been since Monday; and of course you could not turn on a television without seeing the explosions on continuous loop from a million different angles. Soldiers armed with machine guns stood in subway stations, on street corners, and in front of all hotels and hospitals. News trucks topped with satellite dishes clustered around the Public Garden and in and around Copley Square.
On Wednesday, I couldn't help it--I had to go down and take a look for myself. I grabbed my camera and took the T to Arlington, just past Copley. I was able to walk about a block down Boylston St. before coming to a steel barrier set up to keep the public from traipsing any closer into the crime scene. Flowers and signs scrawled with well wishes adorned the barrier as a memorial, of sorts, with people crowded around, curious, bleary-eyed, distraught, in shock. They squinted down the empty street. I did too. Police were everywhere, as were reporters. But the most striking, to me, was the sight of so many runners still in their marathon gear, many with medals draped around their necks. They looked as if they did not know what to do or where to go, as if they had never been allowed to finish the race and were waiting around for someone to give them closer to an event that never really ended. I snapped a few photos, then left.
Thursday afternoon the FBI released the photos of the bombers, and, well, I guess you know the rest. Later that night the killers went on a rampage that culminated with one being shot to death and the other fleeing to the otherwise quiet, small suburb city of Watertown. It's technically a city, but it just feels and looks more like a neighorhood suburb of Boston, which is pretty much what it is. We go to Watertown all the time. There is a Home Depot there and a Target there and a Best Buy. We have friends who live in Watertown. Shooting sprees don't happen in Watertown. In fact, not much usually does. So to wake up at 6am on Friday morning, reach for my phone, and see that a terrorsit was being hunted, block by block, door to door, was shocking. I blurted out, "Oh my God!" waking up Ellen. I jumped out of bed and snapped on the TV. Within an hour or so, our neighborhood, which is next door to Watertown, was put on lockdown, along with all the rest of Boston. I double-checked the front door was locked and drew the drapes closed.
It seemed at first that the terrorist was going to be caught soon. How could he not be? He was surrounded by about 1,000 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. SWAT teams. ATF officers. Armored vehicles. The parking lot of our Target had become a central command post for police and media. We sat inside with our eyes glued to the TV. Everything in Boston was shut down, including all mass transit. Even if you were brazen enough to go outside, where would you go? Nothing was open. This would change slowly over the course of the day, as some folks grew stir crazy, and around 6pm even the police, who had yet to track down the bomber, had to admit that forcing the public to stay inside any longer was unreasonable. The lockdown was lifted. Finally, we changed the station. I opened the front door to allow some fresh air in. I made pizza dough. It seemed nuts to spend all day hunkered down with the killer supposedly surrounded, only to abandon that once it was determined the police had no idea where he was, but hey, what else was there to do?
Not even an hour later, we flipped back to the local news to see what was going on, only to see the police ambush a house with a boat in its backyard. Barely an hour later, it was announced they'd gotten their man. The 19 year old kid who'd shut down an entire city for 5 days, blown off the limbs of dozens of innocent spectators, killed 4 people, cancelled sporting events, and just in general terrorized a region, a state, and even a country, was pulled out of a boat, taken into custody without incident, and hauled away in an ambulance. The streets filled with exhuberant Bostonians of all walks of life who lined the sidewalks and cheered the police cars as they filed by, arms raised, tired but relieved, and yes, even happy. As one Globe writer said, it felt and looked just like the marathon.
Tonight Ben and I are playing in my hometown of Schenectady, NY, at the Moon & River Cafe. Music starts at 7:30pm. After 5 days--5 anxious, surreal, sad, and chaotic days in which so many fellow Bostonians had their lives change forever, and in many cases for the worse--I am fortunate, and humbled, to be able to once again do what I love to do, which is make music. We have a record that is charting well and playing on no less than 25 stations nationwide and will be playing on many more in the weeks to come, a spring and summer full of shows, and my family, bandmates, and other loved ones are safe and sound. All week long we received phone calls and emails and texts from others all over the country, and even the world, checking in to make sure were were OK. Make sure we were safe and sound.
Yes, we are safe.
Tonight, finally, comes the sound.
We hope to see you there, in Schenectady, at the Moon & River.
Andy & JH
Headed for the North Country 3.29.13
This afternoon Ben and I are going to load up his red pickup truck with instruments and food and other provisions and head up to Vermont for the weekend. Later tonight, in Morrisville, we will be at the Bees Knees for a duo show, starting at 7:30. It's too often these days that we play a duo show, so we're always excited when the opportunity arises. We get to strip the songs down, change up the tempos and feel and sometimes even the instrumentation, and just generally have fun.
After the show tonight, we will drive to Ben's family's camp up near Coles Pond for a couple of days of writing, recording, and jamming. A songwriting retreat miles away from the nearest store, our only goal to relax, write new material, set up a few microphones, hit record, and see what happens. We've got a few new tunes we've been messing around but haven't quite finished that we would like to nail down, and I'm bringing my Moleskine journal full of lyrics that don't yet have a home too in case we get on a roll. Last time we did this, last January, we came back with a good chunk of what went on to become our new record, The Fall Comes Early. We'll see what happens this time...
Speaking of The Fall Comes Early, last weekend we spent about 5 hours getting 350+ CDs and press kits stuffed into envelopes and ready to be mailed off to radio stations, newspapers, and magazines around the country. I'm not sure this picture really captures just how many press kits that is, but trust me, that's a lot.
Thanks to so many of you who donated to our fundraising campaign, we've been able to raise enough money to hire a top-notch team in Powderfinger Promotions and really promote the hell out of the new album. Good things are on the horizon for Jo Henley, and we owe you our sincerest gratitude for helping us climb closer to our goals!
We have some more shows coming up to tell you about, including another trip back up to Vermont next Thursday night, April 4, at Red Square in Burlington at 7pm. Tony Markellis will be sitting in on the bass with us for that one. Then on Sunday, April 7, we're back at T-Bones Roadhouse in Plymouth, MA, as part of the 3rd Annual Americana Fest, which you definitely don't want to miss. Live music all day long from some of the best roots bands in the area, including our good friends Lonesome Jukebox and Jake Hill and Deep Creek. We've got a 2-hour set at 4pm. Come on out!
Last but not least, on Saturday, April 20, we're playing a special, intimate show in my hometown of Schenectady, NY, at the Moon & River Cafe. Music starts at 7:30. This is going to be a fun one. We hope to see you all there!
See ya on the road...
Andy & JH
Getting Closer to Our Goal -- Thanks to You!!
We cannot begin to tell you how ECSTATIC we are!
One week ago we launched our fundraising campaign to help us raise money for radio and press promotion for our new album, The Fall Comes Early. Our goal was $4000, and we hoped to raise that much by the end of March so that we can get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
Well, I am delighted to say that, as of this morning, we have raised $2,680!!! We are almost there!
Thank you to all who donated to our cause. It is humbling, and inspring, to know so many care. We intend to put your faith in us to good work and really knock this out of the park. This week will are shipping out about 300 copies of The Fall Comes Early to radio stations, music writers, newspapers, blogs, e-zines, and other industry people, which we would not have been able to do without your generosity!
But, athough we're close, we haven't fully reached our goal of $4,000 yet, so if you have not yet donated, we ask that you please take a moment to visit our Donations page to learn a little more about what our project entails, why we very much need your help, and the rewards we have available as our way of saying thanks.
Lastly, just a reminder that we will be celebrating St. Paddy's Day in style this Saturday night, March 16, with a performance at Tommy's Doyle's, Harvard Square's most popular Irish pub. We are the headliner and go on at 10:30, but come by earlier and join us for a few beers before the show.
Andy & JH
Jo Henley Needs Your Help!
This month we are launching a fundraiserto help us raise money for a national radio and publicity campaign for our new album The Fall Comes Early. We put our hearts into this new record, and we have a terrific team in place in Powederfinger Promotionswho believe we have a winning record on our hands and are excited to work with us to get our music out to hundreds of radio stations, magazines, newpapers, online blogs, and other industry people. The cost of recording, packaging, and duplicating The Fall Comes Early wiped us clean and left us unable to properly promote it, and so we are humbly turning to our friends, fans, and family for assistance.
Our ultimate goal is to raise $4000 by the end of March. While it may sound like a lot, the truth is this is the minimum amount we need to successfully get album out to radio and press and hire the right team to promote it--though of course every little bit makes a difference! Obviously all money we earn playing gigs and selling CDs and other merchandise, as well as personal funds we can scrape together, will also go toward our promotional plans, so we hope that between all of us our cumulative efforts will take Jo Henley where we need to be.
To learn more about the promotion process, how you can help, and the rewards we have available as our way of saying thanks, we ask you to take a moment to visit us here.
We also have some great shows coming up that we want to tell you about:
Today, Sunday, March 3, we head down to Plymouth, MA, to one of our favorite venues, T-Bones Roadhouse. Two weeks ago we were forced to cancel our T-Bones show due to snow, but the sun's out and the roads are dry today, so come on out and join us from 5-9pm. 3 sets of music, no cover, and some of the best people around. Join us!
We have some other great happenings coming up in March, including an appearance on the radio show City Wide Blackout on March 9 at 6:30pm on www.unregularradio.com.
Then on Saturday, March 16, we will celebrate St. Paddy's Day in style with a big show at Harvard Square's best Irish's pub, Tommy Doyle's. We have lots of exciting surprises planned for the occasion, so be sure to mark your calandars and come celebrate the best party day of the year with us!
Finally, we want to thank all of you who came out last weekend for our Troy, NY, debut at The Ale House. What a great little gem of a place to hear live music! It's an Intimate room that attracts die-hard music fans and serves craft beers and excellent pub food. What's not to like? We had a blast and hope to be back soon.
Please visit our website to find out when and where you can catch Jo Henley next, and also please remember to check out our fundraising campaign. Ben, Mike, and I have put everything into our music for many years, and we now have an excellent opportunity to take it to the next level. But we need your help!
Thank you, as always!
Andy & JH
Jo Henley February News!
Happy February! I hope this finds you happy and healthy and warm--in no particular order. We have some excellent shows coming up that we want to tell you about, starting with our return to our favorite South Shore BBQ joint, T-Bones Roadhouse, in Plymouth, MA. It's been a couple of months since we last played T-Bones, but on Sunday, February 17 we'll back with a vengeance with a very special show, beginning at noon. 3 sets of Jo Henley, great food, cold beer, good folks...and no cover! Can't beat that. We'll have copies of our new album for sale, a bunch of new songs, and new jams to share with you. And our buddy Brian O'Connell, whose lengthy resume includes bass duties for The Gordon Stone Band, among others, will be with us once again. Spend your afternoon with Jo Henley on Feb. 17. See you there!
For our Albany-area friends, following our successsful Caffe Lena show in December, we will return to your neck of the woods for a show at The Ale House, in Troy, NY, on Saturday, February 23 at 9pm. This will be our first gig at The Ale House, but we've heard great things, so we're really excited for that one. Plus, as an added bonus, we'll have Tony Markellis joining us on bass for the evening, which is always a treat. You don't need to wait until the next Trey Anastasio Band tour comes to town to hear Tony drop those deep, bottomless bombs--come on out to The Ale House and get yourself a front row seat!
New recording projects, radio promotions, spring and summer tour dates, and other exciting news coming soon, so stay tuned!
This morning we've added the first installment of The Munchies Blog, which is a food blog, of sorts, that we've added to the Jo Henley website. Go here to read more!
"The Fall Comes Early" now available!
Well, so far, so good! The early feedback on our new album The Fall Comes Early has been incredibly positive, which is great to hear. I mean, we like it a whole bunch, but we're a little biased. Just a little. Based on the number of digital downloads and early CD sales, it seems most of you know how to get your copy of The Fall Comes Early, but just in case:
Go here to purchase a high-quality digital download for $10 from us, or here to purchase through iTunes.
If you're like me and prefer to have something more tangible, go here to order a CD and have it delivered to your door for $15.
We also will have the new album available at local Boston music stores, such as Newbury Comics, very soon, as well as other select independent music stores nationwide.
Don't wait! Get your copy today!
The Fall Comes Early
It's done! The Fall Comes Early is finally mixed, mastered, and at the duplication factory as we speak, and will arrive just before Christmas. Here is a first look at the cover artwork. Like all the rest of the artwork, this is a black and white photograph I shot, on film, in and around the studio where we recorded the album...and of course you can see our new Jo Henley logo, created by St. John Design Group, is making its print debut too. From top to bottom, we feel this is our most accomplished songwriting and we can't wait for you to hear it!
Pre-order your copy today here on our website for $15, which includes shipping to your doorstep.
Or, if you'd prefer a digital copy, you can purchase The Fall Comes Earlyin high-quality audio beginning TODAY and start listening before the record is even officially released.
Music is a perfect gift for the holidays, so be sure to visit our online store and pick up any of our previous albums to give to family and friends.
As of today, we have begun streaming our first single, "It Can't Rain All the Time," off the new record here on www.johenley.com. Enjoy!
Andy & JH
JH December News 12.03.12
Happy December! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. It's hard to believe we are in the stretch run of 2012. The old adage about time flying is a worn-out cliche...but oh so true. It really does.
But 2012 ain't over yet. We have two truly wonderful gigs coming up in the next few weeks, and both are our favorite types of venues: listening rooms.
The first is at the Blue Moon Coffeehouse this Saturday night, December 8, at 7:30pm. When we booked our first show there last fall, we had no idea what to expect, but were rewarded with one of our most memorable performances of the year--by far. The good folks there had warned us ahead of time that their venue is usually a more acoustic-oriented one, which is usually code in the biz for "keep the noise level to a minimum." We actually really love shows like that, so for us this was not a contraint, but rather a blessing. We saw it as an opportunity to showcase a side of Jo Henley we don't normally get a chance to share--with Mike switching off between keyboards and (light) drums, and Ben on acoustic guitar--and reworked many of our songs in new and exciting ways. Plus, the audience was incredible and made us feel like part of their community. In fact, it was one of our jammiest, likeliest, and most textured shows. We loved every second there.
So, with that as the backdrop, we are happy to return to the Blue Moon Coffeehouse this Saturday night and reinvent ourselves once again as we prepare to release our new album this month. If you like on the South Shore, or anywhere remotely close to Rockland, MA, you won't want to miss this show!
Then, on Sunday, December 30, we will make our annual return to one of the finest little stages in the country, legendary folk venue Caffe Lena, located in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY, and play our final show of 2012. Every time we've performed at Caffe Lena we have grown up just a little more from the year before, and this year is no different. We have been planning a very special show in celebration of the release of our brand-new record, The Fall Comes Early. Joining us on bass for the occasion, as he did on the record, is our friend Tony Markellis. We also have a few other guest surprises that you won't want to miss. Show starts at 7pm, and tickets can be purchased online here. Let's sell out the room!
More album news and CD release dates coming soon, so please stay in touch!
Andy & JH
Jo Henley Live at Davis Square Theater
In 2003, I think it was--or maybe even earlier; sometime in the early 2000's, when Jo Henley was merely Ben and me casually playing out around the Boston area as an acoustic duo--we performed a set at the Jimmy Tingle Theater in Davis Square in Somerville, MA. l can vividly recall that night: the theater was completely dark but the lights on the stage were blaring in our faces, the monitors were incredible--unlike most every other gig I've ever played I could actually hear myself perfectly and felt as though I could reach for, and nail, any note I pleased, a phenomena any fellow singer out there can relate with--we sat on chairs (for whatever weird reason), the audience was pin-drop quiet and entirely into it, and it was videotaped by a good friend of ours at the time, a hip-hop artist who went by the name The Bringa (seriously, you can't make this stuff up!). Ben, our resident archivist, still throws on that show once in a while when we wants to take a stroll down memory lane. We played some songs that night whose chords I couldn't begin to recall how to play on guitar right now, but we also were already performing at least one current JH live staple you all know, "Voyeur Love." Yup, that's an old tune. Ben and I have played hundreds and hundreds of shows--easily--in the nearly two decades we've been doing this, but that Jimmy Tingle Theater still show stands out.
Sadly, we never did end up playing there again. Not long thereafter Jimmy Tingle's closed its doors for good.
Just recently, however, much to our delight, the venue reopened under new management and a new name: The Davis Square Theater. It's a beautiful room, with a fantastic stage, excellent acoustics, and even a bar. It still maintains the same intimate theater shape and setting, but in a whole new and improved way. Best of all, we are playing there on Saturday, Novemeber 17, at 8pm. The show is hosted by the good folks at Fleming Entertainment, and following our set are three fabulous acts, including Boston-based Grassroot. We've shared a bill with those guys before and hit it off great. They're good dudes, damn fine players, and they bring it. It's going to be kick-ass, not-to-be-missed show. Mark your calendars.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to be able to return after all these years and take that stage again--this time with the whole band and armed with a bunch of new as well as battle-tested songs. We may even have to throw in a "Voyeur Love," just for old-time's sake.
Jo Henley live at Davis Square Theater
255 Elm St, Somerville, MA
Saturday, November 17 @ 8pm
Well, OK, so we're a tad behind schedule. The original goal was to have our new album, The Fall Comes Early, ready for release by November 15, but it's looking like that's not going to happen. We are SO CLOSE to finished, but we also have been trying not to rush through the final mixing and mastering of what is shaping up to be a truly excellent record, and so we've decided that since we've worked this hard and come this far, we would be doing the album, and you--our loyal listeners--a disservice if we didn't dot all our t's and cross all our i's--or something like that. And so we wait. But not too much longer, I promise. Tuesday, December 4 is our new, updated release date.
So, what's going to be on the new album? 11 tracks in all--10 brand new tunes, and one sublime cover of "Amazing Grace" by Ben, solo acoustic on his D28. He tracked it on the very last day of our recording session, on a beautiful June morning that just so happened to be Father's Day. It wasn't planned; it just turned out that way. As the new album is dedicated to Reverened Lee, it was the perfect way to end our sessions, and it only made sense for it to therefore end the album.
I did say 10 brand-new tracks, but that's actually not entirely true. One of the tracks, "Big City," is a tune Ben and I wrote almost ten years ago. We've always really loved the song, but it's in open G tuning--which means we need to alter the tuning of our guitar strings--and we're too lazy to detune and retune our guitars on stage, so we've rarely have played it much live. It's a long, multi-sectional instrumental that we dusted off and reworked to include Mike D. on piano and my father-in-law, Bob Dean, on violin, which was a lot of fun. Basisist Tony Markellis, who--lucky for us--is back with us on this record, plays wonderful fretless acoustic bass on the song and really ties the whole thing together. "Big City" is a song we never would have recorded and put on one of our earlier records. We wouldn't have had the balls, to be honest. I mean, really, how many other bands do you know stick an 8+-minute mini symphony in the middle of their otherwise largely rock albums these days? Not too many. But given all we'd been through leading to this record, and what The Fall Comes Early means to us on a personal level, we didn't care. We went for it. We're really proud of the way "Big City" turned out, and we're pretty sure you will like it too!
Elsewhere on the record you will hear lots of rock-n-roll, including some soaring, powerful guitar work by Ben and terrific drumming by Mike, some old-school country, a dash of top-down backroad bluegrass, and even some slinky, funky jams--basically a sampling of everything you hear when you come see us live. If Mohawk was our purest Americana album to date, then The Fall Comes Early is our everything-but-the kitchen sink album, sonically-speaking. I like to think of it as JH's greatest hits, but with all new material.
Look for an early December release date. We can't rush this one. It deserves better than that. It's damn good. I promise you it will be worth the wait!
It Can't Rain All the Time
You and Me
Nothing Lasts Forever
Never Can See the Sun
Better Off With Him
I'm Gonna Find It
I Used to Be Young
The Fall Comes Early
Once Upon a Time
Home again... 9.26.12
Well...what to say except that our trek out to California for the Millpond Music Festival was every bit as amazing as we'd hoped. Usually reality doesn't ever quite live up to expectations, but this time it most certainly did. We got to see some old friends again, meet a whole bunch of new ones, hike through ungodly gorgeous terrain, park our van in a secluded area among the world's oldest living things (the ancient bristlecomb pines), eat lobster taquitos at a gas station, dance under star-strew skies, and play our music for--and with--a big smiley-faced crowd that was having equally as much fun as we were. If you ever get a chance to go to the Millpond Music Festival, or the Sierra Nevadas, or even just Yosemite, go. Don't hesitate. Run.
A big thank-you goes out to everyone who helped make our trip west a memorable one, especially Lynn Cooper and her Inyo Council for the Arts staff, Bill Frank, Joe Craven, JP Durand, Dave Huebner (the photographer who shot the photo above), Mammoth Brewing Company for making such damn good brews, the park ranger who rather than ask us to turn down or kick us out said to keep on rocking, the guy who offered to make us omelets, and anyone and everyone who went out of their way to find us, thank us for coming, and bought a CD (or two, or three) to take home with them. I also want to thank our old buddy Kurt Jorgensen for making the voyage with us and playing such excellent bass. It was great to make music together again and share the adventure with you, and we look forward to the next time!
This week Ben and I head to New York to finish up the new album. It's good, trust me. You're gonna love it.
Andy & JH
Going to California 9.18.12
Two years ago, Jo Henley was invited to perform at a festival just outside Yosemite National Park, called the Millpond Music Festival, in the small California town of Bishop. Though over the years we'd performed up and down the coast, we'd never been that far east in the state--in fact, none of us had even been to Yosemite befofe. We hopped a flight, landed in San Francisco, played a few shows in the Bay Area, then climbed in a van with our gear and headed up into the Sierra Nevadas. It takes a couple hours to get to the eastern edge of the park, and while picturesque, there isn't much to see right away: I still can remember during one of our early jump-out-of-the-van-and-take-a-looksee moments Mike peered around, shrugged, and said, "So this is it, huh?" He was unimpressed. We were standing by a stone wall overlooking a rather hazy mountainous valley, half of it charred by controlled wildfires with, admittedly, not much else to see.
Within twenty minutes, that OK-but-nothing-special landscape had fast become nothing less than spectacular. We were leaping out of the van every chance we could, snapping pictures, eyes as big as dinner plates, scraping our jaws off the ground. We'd never before been anywhere with such majectic vistas, lush valleys, and soaring mountain peaks. Every twisty, cliff-edged mile we drove was more breathtaking than the last. Bishop was beautiful, as was Mono Lake and our sidetrip to the old abandonded gold-rush town Bodie. We ate like kings--ok, maybe more like foodies--at a Mobil station that served lobster tacos and wild buffalo meatloaf while gassing up the van. We drank yummy bottles of Mammoth Brewing Company, more than I can count, like it was our job.
But as wonderful as that 2010 trip was, what made the whole experience was the music festival itself. Festivals are always fun to be a part of, but the vibe at Millpond was pitch-perfect. Lynn Cooper and her staff at Inyo Council for the Arts, who put the whole thing together, are amazing folks--tireless workers who are as laid back as they are impeccibly organized--and the musicians they had come play at their festival were absolutely top-notch talents. We were honored to be a part of it all in 2010, and we are just as honored--and downright excited--to be a part of it again this year.
Tomorrow night we fly out and land in San Francisco (and by "we" I mean Mike, Ben, and me, plus Kurt Jorgensen, our bass player from all the way back in our late-'90s Old Janx Spirit days!). The next day we'll climb in a van and head east to Yosemite, arriving in Bishop sometime that evening. Our set is on the main stage Friday night, after String Theory and before Pine Leaf Boys, two incredible bands that I am dying to see. Then the following morning we'll perform a workshop under a small tent before making our way back to San Francisco for our flight home.
We can't wait. We wish we could take you with us. If you are anywhere remotely close to Bishop, CA, you need to make it a point to come out this weekend. There will be tons of happy concertgoers camping out in a fabulous setting, with the stage set against a backdrop of purple-tinged mountains, and enough unbelievable music, food, and smiling faces to make it all worth your while, and then some.
If you can't make it out, that's unfortunate, but at least you can always follow us along on our adventures via facebook. And, as always, visit our website for more JH shows and updates about our new album due out in November!!!!
Andy & JH
Jo Henley Live @ Freedom Park - Saturday, Aug 12
What's New in August?
I would say I can't believe it's August already and that the summer is cruising by, blah, blah, blah, but the truth is that Jo Henley has been incredibly busy behind the scenes finsihing up our new record the past few months and getting all our ducks in order for its October release, that we don't have time to be bummed out. In September we head out to California for the Millpond Music Festival in Bishop, CA, just outside breathtakingly beautiful Yosemite National Park, and a couple weeks after that we will release our new brand new studio album, The Fall Comes Early. As you can see above, we have a new logo for the occasion! Or, considering we've never really had one before, I guess I should say, we have a logo! Our talented friends at St. John Design Group designed this for us and we are thrilled to put it to good use. We'll soon have stickers and buttons and t-shirts and kinds of good stuff emblazoned with our snazzy new design. Woo-hoo!
We also have some upcoming shows that we want to tell you all about, starting with a return visit to Portland, ME, on Friday, August 10, at Brian Boru Publick House, where we will reunite with our old friend and long-ago bassist Kurt Jorgensen. Kurt was our second bass player ever back in our college days in Ithaca when Ben, Mike, and I first started playing music together in our band Old Janx Spirit. Kurt is coming out to California with us for the Millpond Festival, and we will be playing some shows together around New England, too. Who knew that after all these years the four of us would be making music together again? It's been a blast, and the band sounds terrific with Kurt in the mix.
Kurt isn't our only friend joining us on bass in the coming weeks. Tony Markellis, best known for his work as a founding and current member of the Trey Anastasio Band, will be sitting in with us on Saturday, August 11, at Freedom Park in Scotia, NY. This is a free outdoor show on the banks of the historical Mohawk River near my hometown of Schenectady, right next to Jumpin' Jacks, an old-school burger-and-shake joint that's been the popular summer hangout since...well, since my parents were kids. My friends and I skipped many a high school class to spend the afternoon at Jumpin' Jacks. If you are in the area, this is a show you will not want to miss. We will be debuting some of our new songs from our upcoming record, plus all of our old faves, and show where Tony joins us is always a memorable one. To be fair, Tony doesn't really "sit in" with us. He's part of the extended Jo Henley family, having played on most all of our records, including the new one. See you there!
We'll wrap up the weekend in style with an afternoon show at T-Bones Roadhouse in Plymouth, MA, on Sunday, August 12. As always, we're playing from noon till 4, and it's free! T-Bones is boatloads of fun, and we always seem to wind up in the craziest jams there, so come on out and spend your afternoon with us.
Friday we're headed back to The Recording Company in Upstate NY to put the finishing touches on the new album and begin mixing. I have so much I want to share with you about The Fall Comes Early, and I will. Soon. Very soon. I promise. Check back next week for tracklistings, release date info, and sneak peeks into what is shaping up to be a very special album. Someone asked me the other day what The Fall Comes Early sounds like so far, and I said that, to me, it sounds like the culmination of everything we've ever done: back-road rockers, classic country numbers, blues boogies, in-the-pocket grooves, rowdy bluegrass romps, dark ballads, and even a multi-sectional instrumental that ranks among our most ambitious compositions yet. It's like Jo Henley's Greatest Hits, except with all new, original songs! We can't wait for you to hear this one. If you're a JH fan, you're going to love The Fall Comes Early.
Stay tuned for more Jo Henley news coming soon...
Andy & JH
From the Studio...
Monday morning was the first in over a week in which I'd woken up in my own bed and not on an air mattress on the floor of a recording studio with a rolled-up hoodie wedged under my head as a makeshift pillow. On the one hand I was happy to have all the conveniences of home within reach and to not have to dig through a suitcase to unearth some semblance of clean clothes to throw on for the day, but I also was sad to leave the previous week behind me. For 8 days Ben, Mike, and I were at The Recording Company, just outside Esperance, NY, working on what will be the next Jo Henley album--tentatively titled, The Fall Comes Early. Though I'll give it an honest attempt, I'm not quite sure how to put our week into words except to say that it was a very special experience for us. Because this new album is dedicated to Ben's dad, who passed away in September, and many (if not all) of the songs in some way or another are tied in thematically to the events of last fall, there was added meaning attached to these sessions. Regardless of where we tracked this album, it was going to be especially significant for us. But given all Mike, Ben, and I have been through together since September, not to mention our long history of making music together, returning to The Recording Company to work again with owner/engineer/producer Tim Lynch felt appropriate.
Tim is more than just a producer and studio owner--he's a mentor and a good friend. He's like family to us; like an older brother and crazy uncle all wrapped up in one. He's a talented multi-instrumentalist in his own right, is blessed with ears that can catch the most imperceptible fragment of sound buried deep in a mix, and on top of everything else is funnier than all shit and is a born storyteller. Aside from the last two Jo Henley albums, Inside Out and Mohawk, Tim has recorded everything we've ever done, going back to 1997 when our first band, Old Janx Spirit, tracked its debut album. I remember sitting in an Applebees on my 21st birthday while on a dinner break from those OJS sessions, and I celebrated my 36th birthday about two weeks before we started work on this new album. So it feels that, in a sense, we've come full circle. No longer confined to a cramped studio basement, The Recording Company has since relocated to much larger digs, about 20 miles from downtown Schenectady, out in what we city boys can only refer to as the country. The closest Starbucks was...I don't know, I never actually saw one; one gets his coffee from gas stations out there. guess. New locale aside, from the moment we pulled up, began loading in our gear, and started shooting the breeze, it was great to be back. It was as if we'd never left.
Speaking of reunions with old friends, bassist Tony Markellis is back with us again on this album, which is always a treat. For those not in the know, Tony has played with some of the finest musicians of the past 50 years, including the likes of Paul Butterfield, David Bromberg, and most notably is a founding and current member of Phish's Trey Anastasio's solo band. Being able to work with Tony is always a pleasure, and this was no exception. He was with us at the studio for a couple of days at the beginning of last week to track the bass and drums with Mike, and as usual his playing is simultaneously solid as stone and soulfully melodic. He's a true craftsman, and on top of that he's a fun person to hang with. The days flew by.
Once the basics were tracked--meaning the bass and drums--our days were generally like this: We'd wake up around 8am, whip up something for breakfast (omelets, frittatas, banana pancakes from scratch--we don't mess around when it comes to food), put on some coffee, and laze around outside the studio in the sunshine on Tim's serene, wooded property for the next few hours. Sometimes we'd make a run to the supermarket; other times we'd just grab our guitars and do some picking, maybe work out a part we'd want to track later on, or else take turns shooting pellets at tin cans. Having a blast doing absolutely nothing, really. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be, with beautiful weather every day. Then around noon we'd start tracking whatever was on our list of things to accomplish that day, which was usually the guitars and vocals on a couple of songs. It's romantic to think that albums are recorded with everyone playing at once, but with rare exceptions, that's just not how it's done. Songs are usually recorded in layers--the drums and/or bass first, then guitars and keyboards, then vocals, then percussion, etc. So after Ben and I laid down all of our parts, I'd jump in the vocal booth and sing over the top of everything. Recording is a lot of fun, but it's also tedious and time consuming. We'd start at noon, strum a few chords, look up at the clock and it's 8pm. Not really, of course, but it felt like that. After dinner, we'd work for another few hours, wrapping up most evenings around midnight. In the studio control room all week was a giant white board with a chart whose boxes represented all of the parts that needed to be recorded for each tune. Once a part was recorded, we'd check off its corresponding box. By Thursday, there were still more boxes unchecked than checked, and though we assumed somehow we'd get to everything by Sunday, there were many times we looked up, saw all the work ahead, and figured there was no way.
Yet, there we were, Saturday night, checking off Mike's piano parts on "You and Me." 10 songs in 7 days. We'd done it. Sure, there would be minor tweaks to come here and there, little percussion parts, and a few string parts that need to be added--let alone all the mixing, mastering, artwork, and duplication that still needed to happen before we'd finally have the finished product in hand, but on Saturday night, after our session, as we tipped back a couple beers outside under a star-sprinkled sky, we knew we'd just accomplished something special. Every record is unique, and the feeling of accomplishment and excitement that comes after each is an intoxicating feeling, so it's not like this one was any more so than the others in that regard, but given all we'd been through since September--hell, all we'd been through since the mid-'90s--both personally and as a band--this one felt particularly gratifying. It helps that this album is, from top to bottom, our strongest yet. I love every JH album, for various reasons, but the songs on this one are, collectively, our finest. In many ways it sounds like the culmination of everything we've ever done together since 1997. Full circle. We'd come back home.
Did I say we finished Saturday night? That's not entirely true. Come Sunday morning there was still one song left to track, an instrumental Ben was to perform solo. Describing it here won't do it justice. You'll just have to pick up a copy of the album when it's done and listen yourself. But let's just say that the way the whole week worked out, there was no other way the tracking of The Fall Comes Early could have concluded except with Ben recording his solo instrumental on Father's Day. Tim had to step outside for a moment to tend to something else, leaving Mike and me in the control room. Tim gave us a quick tutorial--"Press this button to record, this one to stop. That's it. DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE!"--and once he left we rolled tape for Ben while he played. I tried to keep my eyes trained on screen as he tracked, but I couldn't. I had to keep blinking away the tears that spilled down my cheeks.
So there you have it. That's how we spent last week. We still have a little more tracking to do, which we expect to finish the first week of July, then it's the whole mix/master/duplicate song-and-dance routine, which means we're aiming for an early-September release. How apropos?
A very special thanks to Tim and his assistant Rick Sullivan for all the diligent work, the endless supply of grilled burgers and chicken, the laughs, the .22 pellets, the dirty jokes, the side-splitting stories, the pranks, the advice, the guidance, the positivity, the long days and late nights, and the hospitality. It was great to be back.