Originally posted on 22 May 12
It’s 11:11 am
I am re- posting this interview that I originally did with a very cool cat by the name of Carl Henry,a blues musician from Detroit. Carl is one of the most giving artists I know of. He’ll gladly play a big festival or show on one night in front of a large crowd and the next day you’ll find him playing a small senior center or even at a library in front of 20-30 fans of good music.
Since I posted this,Carl has had his own medical issues in dealing with some nasty kidney stones that ended up requiring multiple surgeries. But he has kept his good humor with him and is now back at it,making people happy by creating some marvelous music.
When I saw this in my memories on FB,I thought it was proper to re-post this interview to share with my new readers. I hope you enjoy reading it.
CH: I was born in Troy Michigan, back when Maple Rd (15 Mile Rd) was still a two lane dirt road. Growing up I watched it change until it became the five lane road it is today! We were kind of from the poor side of the tracks in Troy. My father was a steel worker, who had never made it past the sixth grade in school. He came from a family with seven kids, and during the depression years, he had to quit school to work to help the family. My mom was a stay at home housewife who also came from a family with eight brothers and sisters. Always made some great big get togethers at the holidays. I am however, a only child. (I think I was born so big my mother said “never again”!)
CH: Well, the answer to that is easy acutally. I do it all. I have been blessed to play all kinds of music through the years, and most people know I dislike the pidgeon holes that the mere suggestion of ‘genre’ tries to limit you with. For example, I even play Irish and Folk music well enough to be asked to perform in this years Motor City Irish Fest. It is very true I have a ton of experience in the blues, and a great love for blues music. I really got my whole education in stage performing from some of the greats in the blues. My first real club gigs were with super people like Uncle Jesse White, and “Mr.” Bo Collins, and I’ve always learned a lot not only about the music, but indeed about life from these great people.
But, to get back to your question, I do play country, and the newer styles of it, as well as the old. I even do “Western” music, which not too many people do these days. My next cd, which is in production now, will be titled “All Folked Up” and will be a mixture of country, folk and blues. I always tend to call my music “American”. Because I love the melting pot that America is when it comes to music. To me the only genre label that should be attached to it is, ‘is it enjoyable?’
Johnny Cash I think would agree with me. He recorded all kinds of folks’ songs in his day, and sounds just as good doing a Trent Reznor song as he does singing a old gospel tune.
Today yet I worry so for the younger performers, who believe that a drug leads to greater creativity. I never ever found that to be the case.
CH: The music scene changes so much it has changed while I was writing this sentence. It’s much easier to record these days, everyone has a home studio, and that is a good thing. I am very far from up to date as far as the latest tech, with auto tune, and all the other things that have burst on the scene in the last ten years or so. And it is also good that it is much easier to get your music out to the public. CD Baby, and many other digital download resources are available at affordable prices to all artists now. The only down side is, you had better be up on all the latest greatest avenues to sell your music, and I am way way behind in that regard. My latest cd was the first recording I ever really made that was truly public, the others you had to come and purchase from me directly at a show. And still I am not out with it on the various outlets like CD Baby, and the other digital outlets. And I know I shoot myself in the foot by not being there yet. It is a priority for me to work on. This last cd sold more than I ever have of anything I have ever done, and was the very first time I ever purchased a ‘bar code’ for anything in my life. So the old fella is catching up, but too slowly for my liking. I do everything myself, and there simply aren’t enough hours in a day sometimes. Touring, has never been a problem for me, usually I can submit some songs to someone, make a few phone calls, and set up dates. I have also been awful lucky to have made friends with people who like what I do, that have been kind enough to book me for the larger festivals, and larger club dates I have done. I can’t thank those folks enough. Being the chief cook, and bottle washer all at once is not a easy chore, and I have been very lucky and blessed. My days consist of bookings in the mornings and afternoons, when I dont have a afternoon show, and playing in the evenings. I like to think I work hard for the people I play for, and after over 25 years of it, I still love what I do.
First, The Broken Arrow Blues Band. I’ve known the guys in the band many years, and they are rockin the houses wherever they go.
Second, A young group from the thumb area Gasoline Alley, these kids are fantastic, and are creating a sound of rock and blues and country that defies genre, and is just plain full of good energy. These young men will go far.
Third, I would have to add The Clay Adams Band, I’ve known Clay a long time, and he’s just now beginning to get the credit he deserves as far as being a songwriter and artist.
Fourth, a group that is breaking out bigger into the national spotlight, The Rusty Wright Band. Rusty and Laurie and the group have almost limitless talent, and Rusty is just a plain old guitar monster.
For the Fifth, I’m going to break out of the blues, and tell you go see The Codgers. They are a group of fellas I have known since my old days of playing at the Tipperary Pub in Detroit, and may be the only band who can out drink Shane McGowan and the Pouges. And your guaranteed a superb time anytime you can see them play. They bring a energy to the stage as well, that anyone will enjoy.
And my apologies to anyone I left out here, with only five to pick from. This is the D my friends, and we are so loaded with talent here, that to be honest I dont know why anyone would pay large dollars to see a national act, when the music we make right here is just as good as anything you’ll see on any national stage. I am honored to be a part of it.
TIC: What advice would you give a youngster who wants to play blues? What is more important,the chops or the songwriting?CH: The first thing I will tell you, is keep your day job. Playing blues, or any live music is a hard hard living. But when your bitten with the perfomance bug, I know how it is. As John Lee Hooker would tell you “It’s in you, and it’s got to come out”. I would say to you, learn with your heart. Feel it. If you cannot feel it, your not going to have the chop on the instrument you want, and your sure not going to write anything well, unless it indeed comes from inside your soul. And never quit. Because when you do, your not quitting music, your quitting your own soul and being. Dont look to imitate. Look to create something from inside yourself. Study the old masters, research them, understand what and why they did what they did, and when you play their song, stay as true to it as you can. But when you make your own, do just that, and make it your own whenever you can. You will always have your influences, and they will show up in your own music. But be sure to stay true to what you feel, and usually you wont go wrong.Thanks so much for having me share so much of my insanity. If I can add one thing, it’s to tell everyone a thank you from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the honor, and the privilege to play music for you. Go see a live show, and keep supporting blues, and all forms of live music, so we dont turn into a nation where we ‘used to hear live music’. Every dollar you spend on live entertainment will come back to you in joy.Thanks to Carl Henry,we have 2 free signed CDs to giveaway. Simply drop a comment on the interview below and let us know what you thought of the interview. That is all you have to do…….not so hard,is it?To learn more about Carl Henry and his music,including news updates,touring dates and how to purchase his music,please visit Carl on his website which you can find by clicking here.