November 30 - December 2, 2017
For three decades, the prolific singer, songwriter, producer, and author Joe Henry has been reshaping a working definition of American music that is as rich as that of his any of his peers. He is an American folk singer in the bravest sense of the word: his work assimilates a century of this country’s musical ideas and expressions into unforgettable songs. In a unique three-day residency with Duke Performances, Henry will examine his artistry from several distinct angles.
Joe Henry begins his residency on the evening of Thursday, November 30 with a free public talk at the Nasher Museum of Art, called “Take Me to the River,” about the ephemeral, mystical nature of artistic predecessors. Henry says of the talk, “Past influences are not static imprints, but rather like minerals in the blood, as old as time, and reconfiguring our very personal chemistry, even as you read this.”
On Friday, December 1, Henry gives a talk about the alchemical process of making records, “Is It Rolling, Bob?,” at Durham’s Sound Pure Studios. An acclaimed producer who has worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Bonnie Raitt, Henry says that making records has “little to do with so-called self-expression, and everything to do with discovery.” He ponders the process of songwriting and recording in real time in one of the region’s best listening rooms.
On Saturday, December 2, Henry steps onto the stage of Baldwin Auditorium for a fifty-seventh birthday concert, playing every song from his new album, Thrum, as well as other tunes from his expansive songbook. He joins the same sterling crew of musicians that shaped Thrum and have supported him for, as he puts it, “the bulk of my working life” — drummer Jay Bellerose, reed player Levon Henry, bassist David Piltch, and pianist Patrick Warren. Henry is an American musical treasure, and this residency is a rare invitation to witness his fascinating artistic process.