The Kurt Henry Band
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The Kurt Henry Band

Accord, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | SELF | AFM

Accord, New York, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2001
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Humanist Movement - Kurt Henry Band: From Our Religions We’ll Be Free"

Now Art…is the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man. It is, therefore, the power of humanizing nature, of infusing the thoughts and passions of man into everything which is the object of his contemplation; color, form, motion, and sound, are the elements which it combines, and it stamps them into unity in the mould of a moral idea.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, On Poesy or Art ,1818
When a young Brooklyn, New York singer-songwriter named Kurt Henry first took the stage at Greenwich Village’s Gaslight in 1968, there was indeed something special in the air: possibility. The possibility of love. The possibility of peace. The promise of humanity.
Quite some time, and foundered idealism, has passed between then and now. Ask yourself, if you haven’t already: what is it about music that imbues it with the power to continually inspire, withstanding the inscrutable nature of reality? Is it, as many have proffered, the indomitable voice of the heavens?
Kurt Henry, now a time-tested music veteran, a multi-faceted guitar virtuoso, and a passionate literary scholar to boot, might tell you to stop casting your eyes skyward, and get yourself a mirror—and it seems that Coleridge, one of Henry’s deepest inspirations, would agree. The moral, Henry asserts, lies within rather than without.

On the newest offering from the Kurt Henry Band, From Our Religions We’ll Be Free, Henry engineers his most compelling and far-reaching testimony to date. Much like the message it delivers, the music cuts a wide swath: whimsy and pain, dalliance and heartbreak, frustration and bliss. Henry puts his adroit band through its musical paces, traveling through a range of genres and dynamics from straight-ahead roots folk to progressive jazz. Still, there is an upwelling of raw veracity that binds this collection of songs into a true album, undeniably steeped in the 60s themselves. Not in pursuit of idealism, however, says Henry—rather, in celebration of the romantic, the human aspect that the era exemplified. “It’s about my romanticism of the period—in fact, I believe the 60s rediscovered the romantics,” offers Henry, a fanatical student of 18th and 19th century Romantic poetry. “People really did try, and I remain touched by that.”
At the core of this outing’s success, fittingly, is the more-than-capable group of human beings Henry has assembled. This is the third consecutive recording that features the locked-down rhythm section of Alan Groth on bass and Eric Parker on drums. Henry and Groth first joined forces in the 70s, playing together in the celebrated New Paltz band, The Womblers, and their deep connection in the interplay of the band is evident. The addition of the tempered, driving drumming of Parker, whose resume includes work with the likes of Steve Winwood and Joe Cocker, made this a truly complete unit. Rounding out the troupe are the harmonies of Cheryl Lambert, Henry’s wife and constant singing partner. Always true to theme, Henry encourages a freely collaborative creative environment—one which consistently pays dividends in the lush layers of sound that end up in the studio. Parker also takes production credits for this record, as he did on 2008’s Heart, Mind and All, both albums recorded at Mark Dann’s Woodstock studio. The result is a cohesive, almost unconscious melding of minds that suffuses the album’s journey. “You know what’s funny?” says Henry with a smile, “to be honest, we really like each other. We play for the playing.”
Blending seamlessly with this insular gathering are the keyboards of Ross Rice, whose rich Hammond organ enjoys a featured role in the production alongside Henry’s guitar. As a final dish to this banquet (and providing yet another “Summer of Love” reference), Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian strolls in and contributes his signature harmonica to three of the tracks. The end result is an engaging musical concoction, one that demands attention.
All in all, however, the voyage of Religions begins and ends with Henry’s lyrics and arrangements. Echoing the assertions of Coleridge, who is honored in the album’s hauntingly lyrical final track, “Frost at Midnight”, Henry pleads with the listener to take stock of the genuine power of the human heart and mind.

It is the variety of vehicles that Henry employs that makes this record both an entertaining and thought-provoking encounter. A telling example is the progressive-rock deftness and multiple time signatures of the rollicking “Julia in Running Shoes”, inviting an intimate look into the invigorating playfulness of romance. This is followed immediately by the despondent heartache, punctuated by Sebastian’s dolefully emotive harp, of “Julia Left”. “Mind Your Business”, perhaps the record’s most powerful track, features Rice’s resplendent Hammond going bar-for-bar with Henry’s guitar in a classic-rock-inspired jam that harkens to Winwood’s Traffic. Let the CD continue, and you’ll next arrive at “Red Meat Aggression Monkeys,” a good- - Roll Magazine


"Kurt Henry's Music Fearless, Soul Sweeping"

Kurt Henry's music fearless, soul sweeping
By: Kitty Montgomery, Reviewer
04/06/2008

April 6, Kingston's own Keegan Ales celebrates the first anniversary opening of their pub. The public house on St. James Street, just off Broadway is built into the brewery that keeps Mother's Milk and other fine beverages flowing into the Hudson valley.

Once mega concerts by the California Guitar Trio and other famed friends of bass man Pete Levin played Keegan's cavernous industrial interior on a flatbed ringed with kegs and hopsacks, where vats towered over us all.

Now, with space walled in, and vats walled out, you can sit for a cold one and/or tip a shot at a solid wood bar where computer teckkies come for advice from a bartender named Andrew, then pick up your drink and move into the adjacent adobe plastered music hall, open to the tap room, where you may stand, dance, or collapse, a la Roman bacchanal, on divans set against the wall.

Between on going star shows, Hudson Valley bands of infinite reach gig here (you have to visit Keeganales.com to find out who's happening because Keegan doesn't promote in print media. The April 6 anniversary, bye the bye, features chicken barbecue and Two Dollar Goat. That's a bluegrass band, not a dish).

We came out on the last Saturday in the everlasting chill of March to witness the ongoing evolution of Catskill balladeer/bandleader Kurt Henry, making a pit stop between the company parking lot and the pub, at a roaring outdoor fire-in-a-pot stoked by the hospitable club maitre de for folks who drink their ale outdoors in all seasons.

Thursdays, at the High falls Café, Henry hosts an acoustic night for songwriting pickers, where you can inhale the articulate effervescence of his solo guitar play and absorb the sources of his tales in song. The mind once boggled at his informed, whimsical dissertation on ancient Norse mythology, preceding a tune. He is an old-English scholar, to boot!

Fronting a band, which, Henry insists, is currently just a collective of musicians accompanying their notorious traps-man, Eric Parker, you will note the singer's passion and musicality do not diminish. Plugged in, but playing on his acoustic with flamenco fervor and all the technique and truth therein, Henry tops, yea incites an instrumental mix coming from his long time bass man, Albee Groth, ex-Nashville studio player Russ Rice on keys, and Shaquila Tequila, aka Cheryl Lambert, singing back up vocals and shaking sundry percussive devices.

Parker encompasses with a rhythmic aura at all times, unless he's in volcanic eruption, which happened only once, in the course of the eve.

Distinct from fervor, Henry's flavor is not flamenco, although the gang did stir up an itchy Latino number. It is eclectic-romantic, with vocals surfing on lyric-intent lines that draw you in all through the night. Maybe it's a cheat to listen to the band's CD, Love's Enough, to expand on live impressions, but we earned the disc honestly as half of the "first up on the dance floor" couple, to whom this prize is tossed.

Duratively, Henry's voice, sharing tales, hangs from the sweet place Aaron Neville sings from, carries dulcet like songs of the late guitar riding flyer, John Denver.

What eve particular intelligence conveyed in any number, tenderness, a compassion, borne via the voice, suffuses all. On the set, mind you, Henry stands and strums, a fearless warrior, the heart, the mind that drive him, nowhere visible on nonexistent sleeves, since he works with biceps bared, to sweep souls, via the feet.

As it happens, Heart, Mind and All is the name of Henry's new CD, produced by Parker and featuring some formidable musicians of fame who gig afar and live regionally. The who's who includes Harvey Kaiser, a sax descendent of the Sonny Stitt school, omnivore fiddler Larry Packer, David Sancious on a Hammond B3, and Parker, who's the whip.


©Daily Freeman 2008


- Kingston Freeman


"An Ancient Connection Made New"

Huddling close to the warmth of a fire under the stars, you feel the tug of something ancient, almost primal, deep within your breast. Reaching around the insulation of cultural walls, a connection to the sky and the earth touches a customarily ignored awareness idling within the inner reaches of consciousness.

Singer-songwriter Kurt Henry, who celebrates the release of his new cd Love's Enough in Kingston Friday night, probes that timeless feeling of contact in a track from the album called "All Our Fathers."

"It started out when I was thinking about a lot of people in the U.S. who like to think they're part Native American when it seems impossible that so many could be," Henry explains. "My first response was to write a song about all of us being connected to the land. If you go back far enough, we're all chipping arrowheads."

In recent years, anthropologists have advanced the view that the American Indian culture uprooted by the last several centuries of largely European influx were not, in fact, the "First Americans," but only the last preceding wave of immigration from elsewhere. DNA studies and other accumulations of newer evidence suggest, they say, that the tribes cheated out of land that hadn't been seized or bought in the course of the national expansion of the United States represent a six thousand-year-old wave of human entrance to the western continents and that previous waves of other early cultures stretch back tens of thousands of years.

The 9,300 year old skeleton called Kennewick Man excavated from the banks of Washington State's Columbia River in 1996 by anthropologist James Chatters has since become the most renown individual discovery in a chain of evidence which he recounts in his book, Ancient Encounters. The fossil record seems to indicate human presence on both coasts far earlier than previously suspected and Chatters notes that "(t)he pattern of human expansion in the Old World leaves little doubt that people have been able to cross open saltwater passages for at least 40,000 to 50,000 years."

The work of Chatters and other prominent anthropologists underscore the genetic diversity of the Solutrean era prehistory of the U.S. to reinforce Kurt Henry's point that an Amerind pose wasn't necessary to authenticate a deep connection to the natural world. But the subtheme of his song, which reflects upon broken families and the alienation and loneliness of a girl in a motel room, digs it a layer deeper...


Kurt in the early years
"What I cared about was that people wanted to feel attached and they didn't," observed the songwriter who was born and raised on a saltmarsh shoreline of Long Island. "My mother was from an immigrant family but my daughter's great grandmother was born in a stone house seven miles down the road from here. Her mother went to the same schools my daughter goes to and she has a sense of 'place'; she knows her ancestors. In a child's life, three generations is forever.

"I think a lot of American people are uprooted from other states and countries and don't have that 'sense of place'," said Henry, who is also an educator for BOCES, teaching English. "I think 'uprootedness' characterizes American people. We are a very restless people without a real relationship to the land and that allows us to be caught up on the wheel of the consumerist society we're in. The town center, now, is the mall."

Henry was already an accomplished musician when he moved to Ulster County and founded The Womblers, a group which garnered considerable attention amongst folkrock fans of the 1970's and recorded a never-released album for Epic Records. The first recordings of his songs had been made at Manhattan Sound studio by the Boston Post Road Band, a rock-oriented group he played in before moving upstate but the roots of his own development as a songwriter start with close-up glimpses of a vibraphone or a brass instrument as a child, fascinating him at weddings and other occasions which called for live music.

"I love the way they look as well as the way they sound," Henry beams, keeping his attraction to "the physical beauty of musical instruments" in the present tense. He began a love affair with a cello in the fourth grade and discovered a naturally gifted vocal style while singing to Everly Brothers songs with his brother.

Otherwise, without an option for choice, the younger, shorter Kurt Henry was something of a loner until the age of nine or ten simply because there were no other houses or children around on that section of shore and Kurt filled his time with a little boat on the canals of South Bay. Before it became rapidly quite populated, the area offered solitary hours with a crab net and fishing line and school hours contact with other children.

He began to learn guitar in the 6th grade, moving from a Harmony Sovereign Jumbo to a Hagstrom and upgrading to a Gibson LGO when he joined a folk group as a "token rock & roller" in his later te - HVMusic.com


"About Kurt Henry"

There are singer/songwriters who have something to say, but neither the chops nor the imagination, to say it in a way that's compelling enough or convincing enough to make us care. And then there are singer/songwriters-- and they are legion-- who have nothing to say, but who say it well.
Kurt Henry shows us once again that he is a rara avis-- a truly compelling songwriter and a consummate musician, not only capable of making us care, but of making us see and feel in a way that truly opens us.

His songs are for listening; his best songs, like "All Of Our Fathers," are not only for repeated listening, but for living with over a period of time, deepening into their richness. From the passion of "Convicted Cop Killer' to the pure lyricism of "73," there is great tenderness and intelligence here, a largess of craft and heart.

Listening to Kurt's music, it reminds us that we, too, know the change; we've been here before. Personally, I'm always happy-- honored, too-- to sit by the fire he's been so faithfully and lovingly keeping.

-- mikhail horowitz - Woodstock Times


"Viking Shaman Lands in Poughkeepsie"

Music Machine has written of local singer/songwriter Kurt Henry as a performer "with the mustached intensity of a Viking lord and the sensitivity on an Indian shaman"; erstwhile Cultural Czar Mik Horowitz paid Henry the compliment, "His songs are not only for repeated listening, but for living with over a period of time, deepening into their richness...there is a great tenderness and intelligence here, a largesse of craft and heart."
When I saw Henry perform his songs and poems this summer at the Rosendale Street Festival, his words and music made all the stops on the subway trip through the chambers of heart and mind--Henry is heavy, touching, funny and perceptively expressive. Henry is a bright star in the constellation of local talent.
Kurt Henry will perform at the Cubbyhole Coffeehouse, 44 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, on Saturday, January 29 at 8 p.m. Call 483-7584 for details.
- Chronogram


"Kurt Henry Trio performs with literary edge"

Kurt Henry has been honing his musical art here in the Hudson Valley for a couple of decades, performing with bands such as The Womblers, Great Northeastern, and Hipshot. He's probably best known for his solo appearances - and now is building an audience for the Kurt Henry Trio, his collaboration with bassist Alan Groth and mandolinist/guitarist Steve Burgh. The Kurt Henry Trio will be appearing at the Catskill Mountain Coffeehouse, Route 28, Kingston, on Saturday evening.

The Kurt Henry Trio is an entity with an extremely high level of musicianship and - a rarity in musical groups of any sort - a strong literary edge. Each of the musicians has an impressive performance resume.

Henry himself has jammed onstage with the likes of David Bromberg, John Herald, Rick Danko, Elvin Bishop, Artie Traum, Harvey Kaiser and many more. He has performed as an opening act for more acts than can be comfortably listed here, including but certainly not limited to Levon Helm, Jose Feliciano, Robbie Dupree, Loudon Wainwright III, Buster Poindexter, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Byrds, Pete Seeger, Procul Harum, Asleep at the Wheel, and Chuck Berry. He played as guitarist in Chuck Berry's band, as well as for Amy Fradon and Leslie Ritter, and The Bush Brothers, a bluegrass band.

"Alan Groth is our bass player," Henry tells us. "Alan's an ex-Wombler. He's got 35-40 years of experience. He's from Highland Mills. I've worked with Al off and on for about 25 years. I was also an ex-Wombler, so we played together for many years. We got together and started doing gigs about two years ago. It was really a nice reunion. We get along really well. We're old friends ... We played regular Sundays at The Country Inn all through the fall, for about three months. This three months of playing every week really tightened it up quite a bit."

Steve Burgh is a relative newcomer to the Hudson Valley, but an old hand in the music business. "He's part of a fabulous new studio in New Paltz called The Gallery," Henry explains. "Steve is an absolute mega-producer. He's produced people like David Bromberg, Steve Forbert, he's played guitar for Phoebe Snow, Billy Joel, he's co-written with Steve Goodman. And I have to say, I make the poor chap play mandolin. He likes it actually ... Steve does get to play guitar."

The lineup is one that has proven to be satisfying for the three. "What we love best about the trio is ... nobody ever steps on anybody," Henry says. "It's a perfect little trio. You have the bass on the bottom, the guitar in the middle, and the mandolin on top. What could go wrong? It's really a natural for a small acoustic trio and we're finding it works really well for what we're doing."

As they play Henry's original songs, however, the instrumental ability of the players is just one level to the performance.

"What we want people to see from this trio, and I think everybody feels very strongly about it," Henry tells us, "we want people to see this as a whole experience ... I think we play together well. I think we truly are an ensemble. But I hope what they walk away with most is the idea that it's a whole experience. The lyrics, the music, everything works together really well. We'd like people to come and see us who might also go to a (literary) reading of some sort, who are interested in listening to stories, being able to think about words as well as about music."

While many of the songs revolve around Henry's own poetic lyrics, some are inspired from more classical sources.

"We're doing a couple of songs that are William Morris poems set to music," Henry says, referring to the 19th Century poet, architect, and painter. "Most of the stuff has been out of print since before you and I were born. They are (obscure). One poem is from 'The Roots of the Mountains.' It's a poem about these guys who are going off to war. The women say, 'Why are you wearing armor?' And the men say, 'We're going out to get the sheep' 'Do you swim in the river with the armor?' 'No, we're going out to get some sheep that are on an island.' 'What's with the flag?' 'OK, you caught us, we really are going off to war.' It's really kind of humorous in a way. Morris - his women are very shrewd and very modern, totally unlike what you find in most Victoriana. They know all along where the men are going. We're doing that song and we're doing a song from 'The Well at the World's End,' which is probably the first fantasy and probably Tolkein's greatest influence... It's the most spectacular thing in the world."

A more contemporary inspiration for song may be found in some of Henry's satirical jabs at General Electric and their propaganda campaign to avoid dredging PCBs from the Hudson. At recent performances, Henry has been performing a piece called "Fish Repellant," and now he promises a spoof of the old Creedance Clearwater Revival song "Proud Mary," retitled "Dead Mary." Mutant carp figure prominently in both works.

It might be a concert, - The Daily Freeman


"Viking Shaman Lands in Poughkeepsie"

Music Machine has written of local singer/songwriter Kurt Henry as a performer "with the mustached intensity of a Viking lord and the sensitivity on an Indian shaman"; erstwhile Cultural Czar Mik Horowitz paid Henry the compliment, "His songs are not only for repeated listening, but for living with over a period of time, deepening into their richness...there is a great tenderness and intelligence here, a largesse of craft and heart."
When I saw Henry perform his songs and poems this summer at the Rosendale Street Festival, his words and music made all the stops on the subway trip through the chambers of heart and mind--Henry is heavy, touching, funny and perceptively expressive. Henry is a bright star in the constellation of local talent.
Kurt Henry will perform at the Cubbyhole Coffeehouse, 44 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, on Saturday, January 29 at 8 p.m. Call 483-7584 for details.
- Chronogram


Discography

From Our Religions We’ll Be Free 2012*
Heart, Mind and All 2008*
Love’s Enough 2004**

The current membership appears on each album in addition to guests who include Larry Packer, Ross Rice, David Sancious and John Sebastian.

* produced by Eric Parker **produced by Steve Burgh

Photos

Bio

Kurt began singing in coffeehouses, notably Greenwich Village’s The Village Gaslight in 1968, and then played through college and beyond with very popular regional New York bands, such as the Womblers, Hipshot, and Great Northeastern. These years marked Kurt as “New York’s first country-rocker” (MusicMachine) and landed him over 100 opening act performances for Asleep at the Wheel, Procol Harum, David Bromberg, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, to name just a few. Today Kurt is an accomplished, tone-conscious, low-volume/high energy electric guitarist and a singer/songwriter with a knack for smart lyrics that splash on impact and circle out. He has expanded his guitar repertoire over the years from accomplished folk and country picking to smooth electric guitar soloing with overtones of jazz, Caribbean, blues and the bits and pieces between. Alan Groth has played bass with Kurt for years and the two work together like clockwork with drummer Eric Parker, who has an impressive resume with artists such as Joe Cocker, Little Feat, Cornell Dupree, Orleans, and more. Cheryl Lambert is an accomplished harmony vocalist, latin percussionist and harmonica ace. The group which also has a low-volume “parlour band” function is perfect for house concerts, outdoor festivals and clubs that feature seasoned original musicians.

Band Members