"...the rhythm and poise with which the members of Jo Henley write and perform is exquisite. Touches of Robbie Robertson and the Band and all who followed in their footsteps echo throughout this collection. The range is beautiful. The lyrics and melodies have a very familiar feel throughout, as if we have dear friends in all these songs—a rare gift indeed." The Noise in review of Jo Henley's latest record The Fall Comes Early.

Return to form

Join the JH mailing list and get a free download of our song "Better Off With Him."

Where's Summer B.? 

Happy August, friends!

I've had the Ben Folds Five song "Where's Summer B.?" stuck in my head all day. Probably because, although it is still August, and my tomato plants are just hitting their stride, there has ever-so-gradually been a crispness creeping into the air, as if to remind us that, alas, summer is winding down.

But it's not gone yet. There are still warm days remaining on the calendar. There are still many more cookouts ahead. And there is still plenty of music to be made before it's all said and done.

On June 21, Summer Solstice, Jo Henley kicked off this way-too-short season with a hugely successful show at The Spire, downtown Plymouth's beautiful new performing arts center. The whole concert was recorded for a live album--cleverly titled Jo Henley Live at The Spire--and in the weeks since we have been working with Mark Bryant to get that finished, mixed, duplicated, and ready for the world to hear. We feel this is a great and accurate representation of what a live Jo Henley show is. The song is always the focus, the centerpiece, but there is also plenty of extended jamming, improvisation, and risk-taking. You guys are going to dig it.

In the meantime, we are also putting in the final mixing stages of our new studio album Around These Parts, which we have been working on with Tim Lynch for much of this year. I just received a fresh set of mixes yesterday and was ecstatic with that I heard. This one is going to kill. We took our time and really tried to make sure each song is a gem. Whether or not we succeed is, I suppose, up to the public to decide. But we know we made a strong record, and most importantly, we loved making it. In the end, that's all that really matters to us!

So, sort of unexpectedly, here we are with TWO new albums waiting in the wings, all set to be released this fall! It's incredibly exciting. I have listened to each album about a bazillion times and still aren't sick of them; quite the opposite, in fact--which is saying a lot. These two records represent some of the best stuff we have ever done and we are thrilled to share them with you soon, soon, soon.

We have two big shows coming up this month that we want to remind you about. The first is this Saturday evening, August 23, at the Plymouth Waterfront Festival. It's an all-day event, with food, arts and crafts, music, and lots of other activities for the whole family. We are the headliner and will play from 5:45-7:30pm. Come on down to Plymouth this weekend and check it out--and be sure to stick around for our set!

Then next week, Friday, August 29, we return to one of our favorite venues on the planet, Caffe Lena, in Saratoga Springs, close to my hometown. Summer doesn't officially wave goodbye until late September, but Labor Day weekend is what most of us consider the end of the season, so it feels entirely appropriate that we bookend what has been an outstanding summer for the band with a two-set show at Caffe Lena. We have joining us bassist Tony Markellis for the occasion, as well as our friend and former bandmate Jordan Santiago, who will be sitting in with us on fiddle and mandolin.

Caffe Lena is a special place. We hope to see as many familiar faces, and hopefully new ones too, that can fit in that room. We have a few surprises in store for the occasion, including the debut of a bunch of new material, and we will even be dipping into the Jo Henley catalog and dusting off a few songs that we haven't played in a while.

This is an important show for us. Be sure to reserve your tickets today by going here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/734675

And & JH


 

Jo Henley Live at The Spire 





Dear friends,

First things first:  We want to extend our sincere thanks to all who came out to Club Passim last Monday night! It was such an awesome crowd, engaged from the first note of "Inside Out" to the last note of "The Great Depression"--what else can you ask for in an audience than that?

You know what else was awesome? Watching a room full of people who had never before seen Hayley Sabella perform held captive, and instantly won over, by her masterful songwriting, unassuming charm, and gift-from-God voice. She's hardly a secret anymore--she's making huge strides in her young career already--and it's all well-deserved. Hayley was also  kind enough to jump on stage with us and sing with me on the two songs she guests on on our upcoming studio album, "Deep in the Dirt" and "Wait Till May."

Having old friend Jordan Santiago back with us after close to 4 years was incredibly fun too--and nostalgic, I gotta say. When we made up the setlist before the show, I knew there were certain songs that I, perhaps selfishly, wanted to hear, songs that we'd played so many times on countless tours, on countless stages, in the years during his tenure in the band, and I was really looking forward to reliving those moments: the mandolin flourishes of "The Fire," the razor-sharp and anxiety-filled fiddle in "Inside Out," the big violin solo in "Holly," to name a few, not to mention the interplay with Ben's lead guitar throughout the set. Jordan's a busy guy these days, lending his chops to multiple bands and projects, but he's got an open invite to join us whenever his schedule allows, so you can expect to see (and hear) him at some upcoming shows. Including this one below....

The day after our Cub Passim show, Mark Bryant, who recorded and produced our album Mohawk, asked me if we were interested in playing a show on Saturday, June 21, at The Spire in Plymouth? Free show, he said, and best of all, he would record the whole thing professionally and we would release it as a live album later this summer. Were we on board?

Does a bear...well, you get the idea.

And so...

You are cordially invited to join Jo Henley for a very special FREE concert on Saturday, June 21 at 7pm, at the beautiful new Spire Center for Performing Arts in downtown Plymouth, MA. The entire two-set show will be recorded by Mark Bryant of Seasound Recording Studio.

We will have Jordan joining us again, as well as a couple of other guests, as we perform songs spanning our entire catalog, from our debut EP Long Way Home to our upcoming studio album Around These Parts--and yes, there will be plenty of jamming, which is what many of you who see us live have come to expect from us. I know that bands say this all the time, but we've never meant it more than we do now: this will be a night you won't want to miss!

This amazing venue, The Spire, is a former Methodist church built in 1886 that has been completely renovated and turned into a modern, world-class music and arts center, with a full recording studio, while still retaining all of its old-world historic and architectural charm. In just a few short months of its opening, The Spire has hosted performances by popular local artists and good friends of ours Jake Hill and Hayley Sabella, as well as folk legends Tom Rush and Dave Mallett, among others.

Admission to the show is absolutely free, and wine, beer, and other refreshments will be available for purchase.

We need your help, though. June 21 is coming up fast, and we want as many of you there as can possibly fit. A live show is only as good as the crowd's energy. So I hope you will spread the word, tell all your friends, pack the room, and be part of creating a magical evening!

Andy & JH


www.spirecenter.org

www.johenley.com

Wait Till May 

On Monday, moved by the emotional weight of this year's Boston Marathon after all that took place last year, and feeling a bit detached having spent the day away from my adopted hometown for the first time in 13 years--albeit for a good reason: studio time to work on the new album--I decided to post a close-to-done-but-still-unfinished song off our upcoming album on my facebook page and the Jo Henley facebook page called "Wait Till May."

The bluest of our new songs, "Wait Till May" is a reflection on last year's bombing and what it felt like to live in Boston during that time. It opens with the narrator--me, it's fairly safe to presume--wakes up in the middle of the night only to learn that there is a manhunt underway and the city is on lockdown.(Here's what I wrote last April about that day, the days leading up to it, and the days following.) I do not usually write topical songs, but this one flowed; I didn't have much of a choice but to embrace the flow. One of the gifts of being a songwriter is that I have an outlet to deal with moments or periods of struggle and tension. It's not foolproof--I still keep things bottled up, just as we all do from time to time--but I imagine that having a tangible way to process troubling moments is, well, better than not. "Wait Till May" was my therapy. I just so happen to have amazingly talented friends and bandmates and, in this case, guest musicians, to help me turn my therapy into soundscapes.

"Wait Till May," in addition to Ben on electric guitar and me on vocals and acoustic guitar, features the beautiful vocals of Hayley Sabella and the sublime violin work of an old friend, Jordan Santiago. Jordan needs no introduction to most of you reading this. He brings his effortless talents to this track, as well as several others on the upcoming record. And as for Hayley, if you think she sounds amazing on "Wait Till May," then you are in for a real treat when you eventually hear another new one called "Deep in the Dirt." We are beyond thrilled to have both of them on the record.

Speaking of Hayley Sabella, she will be joining us for a very special evening on June 2 at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. She will play a set of her own before we hit the stage, and we of course will invite her up there to play some songs with us. And Jordan will also be sitting in with us too, which is not only super exciting (and nostalgic) for us, but I know is welcome news to all our fans. Seriously, you do not want to miss this show. I will post more info about our Club Passim performance soon, but in the meantime, circle your calendars, call your babysitters, invite your friends--this is going to be a special night of music.

In the meantime, you can catch us here:

Friday, May 2--The Banner--Rockland, MA. 8pm
Saturday, May 10--Mocha Maya's--Shelburne Falls, MA. 8pm
Saturday, May 17--T-Bones Roadhouse--Plymouth, MA. Noon.
Monday, June 2--Club Passim--Cambridge, MA. 8pm.

See you down the road...
Andy & JH

 

Winterlong 

February 4, 2014

Hello friends!

Lots of good Jo Henley news to share! First and foremost, our new album, tentatively titled Around These Parts, is well underway. We've had two big, productive sessions in Upstate New York with Tim Lynch at The Recording Company and are just about done with all the basic tracks. So far, we're pumped. This is going to be an excellent record. I am often asked what this one will be like. Truthfully, that's hard for me to answer right now. Making a record is a little like a painter who paints with his nose close to a huge canvas, and it's only when he steps back that he can really take it all in and see the whole picture, so to speak. That's sort of how we feel right now. We're too close to it to be able to say exactly how the final product will turn out.

Going into this project, I was inspired by one of my favorite records, Waylon Jennings' Dreaming My Dreams. I love most all of his records from the '70s, but this one in particular is special. Waylon was the quintessential outlaw, with the beard and the cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth and the deep voice and the bluster. Like Paul Bunyan with a Telecaster. But Dreaming My Dreams is quiet and soothing and sparse, and my copy on vinyl sounds...well, it sounds just how a good old vinyl record should sound. And it always makes me think of winter. So, as fall began to slowly give way to winter, and fallen leaves were being replaced by fallen snow, I found myself wanting to write songs that sound like that record, and silent fields of snow, and crackling fireplaces, and hearty stews slow-cooking all day on the stove to warm us on cold nights. Ben is a Waylon fan, too, so it wasn't hard to dig in and try to capture the essence of what our version of that record, and the beautiful bleakness of winter, might be.

Of course, blueprints are made to be broken (or something like that!) Around These Parts may have been inspired by Ol' Waylon, but it sounds distinctly like a Jo Henley album, with our style and sensibilities and musical fingerprints everywhere. It is colorful and ambitious, full of story-songs and characters down on their luck yet always full of hope that life gets better right around the corner.

There will be 10 new songs, special guests joining us on a few tunes, and it will all be pressed onto 180 gram vinyl, because it only makes sense that it should. Yes, we will also have CDs available and digital downloads, but this felt like a batch of songs destined to spin on a turntable.

In two weeks we return for another big session, which should wrap up the basic tracks. We expect to be mixing next month and get it out to be pressed by late April.

If you have seen us in the past couple months, you've probably met our newest member of the Jo Henley family, bassist Kyle Stephens. A native of Scituate, MA, and a member of a local Grateful Dead cover band called The Mystical Misfits, Kyle brings his chops, his cool demeanor, and his sense of humor to Jo Henley. We are excited to have him aboard, so please be sure to say hello and introduce yourself when you see him at our shows!

In the meantime, here is a video we recently acquired from our friend Brad Glass, who took this when we played at The Blue Moon Coffeehouse in Rockland, MA, last December. Our buddy and bassist from our pre-Jo Henley days Kurt Jorgensen is joining us on bass for the occasion. Enjoy!

We have a few very special announcements to make very soon, so stay tuned....



Around These Parts 

December 11, 2013

The last time we played one of our favorite venues, T-Bones Roadhouse in Plymouth, MA, was October 19. My wife Ellen was very pregnant by then, but still a couple weeks shy of her due date. We--the band--had been preparing for the newest member of my family by slowing things down and clearing the Jo Henley calendar for a little while, allowing me some time to keep close to home. I didn't want to be at a gig somewhere, get a call that the baby was on its way, like, RIGHT NOW!, and have to leave in a flurry of madness to get to the hospital in time, so it only made sense to not book anything for a few weeks leading up to the due date. And then on the other end, I wanted to keep our schedule mostly free after the baby arrived. To use one of my son's favorite phrases, I needed to "cool it down."

Cool it down. Yes, indeed, Anthony.

In June, my wife (already quite pregnant by then) and I looked around our cramped two-bedroom apartment in Brighton, decided we needed more space, and did what any rational couple with a three year old and another on the way would do: we went house hunting. We headed out of the city and up to the North Shore, found a small blue ranch on a quiet street with a yard big enough for cookouts and several raised garden beds and room for kids to run around, and made an offer. Two hours before we took the stage in late July at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs, I got a phone call to say our offer was accepted. (We were wofing down doughboys outside Esperanta on Caroline St., to be exact.)

We closed on our house on September 30. We moved in October 2. Jo Henley played T-Bones on October 19. And on October 20, my son was born. Two weeks early. Yup. Nuts. Had he decided 24 hours earlier that he'd had enough and was ready to come into this world, I would have been that crazed dad driving like a frigging lunatic on his way to the hospital, trying to make it in time!

Well, Anthony, I've cooled it down long enough. It's time to heat it up again.

2013 was an incredible year for me, one that was split into almost two equal halves. In the first half, Jo Henley released the incredbly well-received The Fall Comes Early record and toured behind it and promoted the heck out of it. And I just told you all about the second half.

2014 is going to be a monster year for Jo Henley as a band, and we're not going to wait for the calendar to flip to start making it happen. On December 26, we're headed back to Tim Lynch's studio, The Recording Company, in Upstate NY for a week to begin tracking a new record. Earler this year, Ben emailed me an instrumental piece he'd written called "Bayley-Hazen Road." I was in my car at the time. I downloaded it, hooked my phone up to my speakers with one of those god-awful cassette adapter thingies, and played it a few times. The music was fantastic, and instantly compelling. The melody came to me quickly. I didn't have any specfic lyrics, but Ben later told me the title of the song and a bit about the history behind it, which gave me direction and focus. I loved the song right away, and its vibe, its mood and beat and character, set the tone for all the songs that followed.

I would be lying if I told you we know exactly what our gameplan is with this new record, because we don't. Ben, Mike, and I have a good bunch of songs that we are really psyched about, general arrangements, some cool ideas as to how we want to approach the recording, and I have a working title: Around These Parts. Tim Lynch is going to record and produce it, and and Tony Markellis is going to provide his incomparable bass skills once again, so how can it turn out to be anything but awesome? It is going to be a winter album, something to throw on on those cold, peaceful mornings when it feels like you are the only one awake on the planet, and the world outside is bare and blanketed in snow and starkly beautiful. In my new house, the windows in both the kitchen and living room face stunning watercolor sunrises each morning. That, I'm sure, has something to do with where my mind is taking these songs lyrically. Not to mention...oh, know knows? I suppose to say anything more about it is premature. (A winter album that we plan to release in the late spring, just in time for summer! Perfect timing!)

We have a bunch of other plans in the works for 2014, too, including an EP, a summer tour, a tour out west in the fall, and a documentary. I can't wait. Life is good.

Stay tuned...

Andy & JH


 

"The Fall Comes Early" reviewed in The Noise 

Well-known Boston music publication The Noise--infamous for its no-holds-barred reviews--recently gave our lastest release The Fall Comes Early a write-up in their September issue. I must say, this one felt good. Check it out...

JO HENLEY
The Fall Comes Early
11 tracks

With this fourth full-length album under their belts, the rhythm and poise with which the members of Jo Henley (Andy Campolieto, Ben Lee, Tony Markellis  and Mike Dingley) write and perform is exquisite. Touches of Robbie Robertson and the Band and all who followed in their footsteps echo throughout this collection.  The range is beautiful. The lyrics and melodies have a very familiar feel throughout, as if we have dear friends in all these songs—a rare gift indeed.

“Big City” is an instrumental surprise, soft and edgy but haunting and soothing at the same time.  What movie soundtrack can we all place this in?  In this selection, as well as the album’s namesake, “The Fall Comes Early,” I hear romance in Ireland.  It takes me back to one of my favorite movies, Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero featuring Mark Knopfler’s fabulous soundtrack.

A neat Luther Perkins riff is perfect for delivering “I’m Gonna Find It” with some fine picking by the band’s stellar lead guitarist, Ben Lee.

Right from the start, “I Used to Be Young” is simple and uncluttered but sticks in your head, in a good way.

The traditional “Amazing Grace” is the last track, the sweet tea served after this delicious musical spread.

These guys should be on the AMA (Americana Music Association) charts, right up there with Guy Clark, Dawes, and Steve Earle.    (Jim Marchese)
 

Jo Henley August News 

Tonight we are heading up to Gloucester to play a private party in beautiful Cape Ann. I wish we could bring you with us! But you can still get your JH fix this weekend:  We are thrilled to be headlining the Pembroke Arts Festival tomorrow, August 10, in Pembroke, MA. We are playing a two-hour set under the stars from 7-9pm. It's free, and there are exciting events going on all day long, so come out early and stay for the music. Summer is going fast--take advantage of it while it's here.

Jo Henley has enjoyed some strong press over the last week. Esteemed Boston-area music critic Jay Miller wrote a nice piece about the band and our latest record in last week's Patriot Ledger, and the good folks at The Alternate Root included our instrumental "Big City" in their Top 10 Songs of the Week. Check it out.

Thank you to everyone who came out to our show with Abbie Barrett at Club Passim on Monday night. It's always special to play that legendary venue, and this week's show did not disappoint. The room was full, the vibe was perfect, and we can't wait to do it again soon!

See you tomorrow night in Pembroke!

Andy & JH

Summer breeze makes me feel fine... 7.12.13 

Happy Summer!

Today Ben and I are going to hit the road on this beautiful Friday and head up to Portsmouth, NH,  for a live in-studio performance on "Stay Tuned" on WSCA 106.1 FM. We go on at 4pm and will play about 5 tunes. Playing on the radio is always fun, so we're psyched. Coincidentally, going on before us at 2pm is Livingston Taylor. I say coincidentally because ever since I can remember, one of my mom's favorite war stories from her college days was the time she and her friends piled into the back of a windowless moving truck at the suggestion of some strange, creepy dude none of them knew who promised he'd take them to a Livingston Taylor concert. This is before there was a me, and since I'm here to retell this tale I think it's safe to say that they made it there in one piece. This was the '70s, after all. You could do crazy stuff back then, like go see James Taylor's little brother, and put flammable materials in your hair, and not end up in the news. We're going in my car today, chock full of windows, so we should be okay even in 2013.

If you live in Portsmouth, you can tune in the old-fashioned way on 106.1 FM. The rest of you can hop on the interweb and catch us at http://portsmouthcommunityradio.org/ and click the "Listen Live" button.

We have some awesome shows coming up that we are really excited about...

On Sunday, July 21, we will be back at our old stomping ground, T-Bones Roadhouse in Plymouth, MA, from 2-4pm, as part of Brewster Production's annual Plymouth Independent Music Festival. Summer Sunday nights in Plymouth might as well be Friday or Saturday, so come on out. No cover, cold beer, great food, and Jo Henley!

Then on Saturday, July 27, Jo Henley returns to always-beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY, to open up for The Mallett Brothers Band at Putnam Den. Hailing from Maine, these guys have been making serious waves in the roots/Americana scene for the past year or so and are not to be missed. This is a really great bill and is guaranteed to be a kick-ass show, so if you love live music and shows where you leave sweaty and happy and your soul replenished, then you need to come to Putnam Den on 7/27 and catch Jo Henley and The Mallett Brothers Band. We have new songs, a couple special guests, and special merch giveaways, so be there! We take the stage at 9pm.

The next day we are heading down to New London, CT, for an afternoon show at Captain Scott's Lobster Dock. This will be our first time there, but we've heard excellent things. Besides...Jo Henley, beer, lobster? A dock? How can you go wrong? Show starts at 1pm.

Then, looking ahead to August, we will be playing a very special, intimate show at Cambridge's famous folk venue Club Passim on Monday, August 5 at 8pm sharp. Our good friends Abbie Barrett and the Last Date will be opening the show. Club Passim is one of the finest listening rooms on the planet and the vibe is always perfect. Get your tickets in advance by going here, reserve your table, and join us for what is going to be a memorable evening of music.

Check back for more updates coming soon!









Review of The Fall Comes Early 

Music critic Bill Copeland recently reviewed The Fall Comes Early and gave us a nice writeup on his excellent website www.billcopelandmusicnews.com. We thought we'd share it with you.

Thanks for the kind words, Bill!

Jo Henley take it to a higher level with The Fall Comes Early


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 
RSS