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Interview:
Joe Henry Pushing Envelope With New Stage Lineup
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Joe Henry hasn’t been one to stand still during his musical career — as an artist himself or as a producer for others.

That’s certainly the case as the Rochester Adams grad tours to support his 11th album, 2009’s “Blood From Stars.” Throughout the jaunt, Henry is augmenting his regular trio with a “revolving door” of other players — including his son Levon, who played reeds on the album and will be on break from the New School University in New York when Henry and company roll into Ann Arbor this weekend.

“Everywhere we play, we’re going to have at least one other person, if not several other people, come through the picture like changing weather,” explains Henry, 49, who’s married to Madonna’s younger sister Melanie. “I’ve just sent invitations and song lists to people — ‘Here’s what we’re going to play. Learn some of this music and come play it with us.’

“It will be very interesting because the colors will be constantly changing for us — and also I’m stacking the deck in my favor ’cause I’m only inviting especially talented people. But I don’t have a concept other than that we play music together. My concept is to hear what will happen if we play these songs together.”

On top of that, Henry is keeping his production schedule as busy as ever. After winning his second Grammy Award for helming Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s “A Stranger is Here,” he’s also logged new efforts by Mose Allison, Salif Keita and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. He’s also produced music for the upcoming Mickey Rourke film “Passion Play” and for a documentary project for Harry Belafonte and is about to start a gospel album with Aaron Neville.

“I’ve got projects in development all the time,” Henry notes, “so I spend a big part of my days in a hotel room trying to massage all these potential projects into existence.

“But I don’t think of that as a burden. The more I work, the more blurred the lines become. I stop seeing them as different jobs and just as extensions of the same job for me. I don’t feel I have to compartmentalize my workload right now. I’m just loving everything I get to do.”



Joe Henry performs at 8 p.m. Friday (March 12) at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.



Web Site: www.theark.org

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