Kurt Henry Band defies genre on latest artful, heart-full CD - BlueStone Press
November 22, 2017
New Music

Kurt Henry Band defies genre on latest artful, heart-full CD

Have a listen: link at the end of the story

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“I got a heart for all seasons.” -- Kurt Henry, “Moonglow”


Just hearing Kurt Henry’s mellow, happy voice -- whether recorded in song or over the phone -- takes you back to a more innocent era of Ulster County history, a time when you could park beside the Minnewaska Trail without fear of a ticket and scoot into the woods, playing hide and seek with lightweight security, and fling yourself into the creek or lake with abandon. A time when many of our now-iconic organizations like Family of Woodstock were young and starry-eyed, when all the precious assets that have since been discovered and rediscovered by visitors were spread before us as a personal feast.

But there’s no moss growing on this Rondout Valley resident -- or his favorite guitar. The production on the Kurt Henry Band’s newest CD release, “Flaming June,” has been described by singer-songwriter Amy Fradon as “just impeccable ... It has the effect on me of falling into a lush, mossy cave. It really has a magical sound.” Country artist Josh Roy Brown describes it as “a great sounding record! Kurt’s supple fingers deliver beautifully-toned, lyrical and sometimes quirky guitar lines, while his voice soulfully presents memorable melodies peppered with poetic lyrics — and his band ain’t half bad either!”

That they’re not.

“Eric Parker (our hard-working producer), Alan Groth and Cheryl Lambert comprise our flexible, formidable live team. We are in our second decade, and every night it’s a smooth ride — even in diverse terrain,” says Henry on his website.

Like many of the knowns and unknowns who co-created the Ulster County music scene over the past several decades, Henry’s upstate odyssey began at the end of the 1960s. After a childhood spent messing around on boats in the bay and in the marshes of still-rural Long Island, he’d ventured into the city and played at the Village Gaslight in 1969 when he began to hearken to the call of the mountains.

“I first played in Woodstock in maybe 1969 or 1970,” he remembers. “I went to SUNY New Paltz, and in 1971 I moved upstate and we formed the Womblers. We had a completely original repertoire, which was weird for a bar band -- nobody understood what it was about.” (You can still, however, find mention of them on Discog and the bass player “Albee’s” reminiscence about opening for Procol Harum in New Paltz on that band’s fansite.) “We lasted nine years. We made some noise.”

The Womblers had a joyous reunion at the High Falls cafe in 2012. Henry, meanwhile, has just never stopped delighting audiences with his literate lyrics and sweet guitar licks that sparkle like gems and go down like honey. It’s not an easy album to categorize, but “full of energy” fits it well. “I don’t do the genre thing well,” he says. “I’ve never been good at that. I just love guitar and play the things I do because I can; I’ve spent a lot of time on it, and I think it shows on this record. I don’t think I could be happy playing just one kind of music. And I love writing lyrics.”

In his day job, Henry turned a couple of generations of Ulster County kids on to the joys of language as an English teacher with Ulster BOCES for 25 years and 11 years at the Alternative School, dating back to its founding days in Tillson. “I would say the peak of my teaching career was when the Alternative School was partnering with the Mill Street Loft (from Poughkeepsie),” he recalls. “Teaching enabled me to survive while doing the music I play.”

He’s brought that music into the service of many a good cause, showing up “whenever we’re asked by someone I want to do it for, especially when dogs are involved.”

And on the latest CD, both his guitar chops and literary influences are coming ever more into their own. The fraught-yet-lyrical jealousy in “Whenever You’re With Him” was, Henry says, inspired by Othello. The chord changes on “My Advice” put him in mind of “West Side Story,” while the song’s narcissistic narrator is as fresh as today’s news.

“He’s kinda a slick guy talking about someone contemptuously ... There’s something organically wrong there, but there’s a sense of adventure and thrill in the song.”

Then there’s the sweet, subtle “Tether of Life,” which Henry says is “the second automatic song I’ve ever written. I walked in, sat down in front of my16-track recorder and did the whole thing in 20 minutes. I don’t usually do that. It was written after a tragedy, a death of a young person in the family.”

You can hear the band live this month at what is sure to be a joyous occasion, a celebration of Uncle Willy at the Rosendale Theatre Collective that starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15. (Back in the day, Uncle Willie’s Well was one place the Womblers were always welcome.)

Other upcoming Hudson Valley gigs include Rhinecliff’s Morton Library on Aug. 18 and Music for Humanity at Noble Coffee Roasters in Campbell Hall on Aug. 19. And you can check out (and purchase) digital downloads of “Flaming June” on all the premiere media sites like Amazon and Spotify, or hear samples on kurthenry.com. If you love melody, stories and versatile guitar, you’ll be glad you did.

Listen at their website: http://www.kurthenry.com/

 

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