Joel Henderson considers this Saturday's album release show at Radio Radio a homecoming of sorts; "Indy is very important to me; far more important to me now than when I lived there even. I did a lot of growing up in Central Indiana. After leaving home at 18, Indy and the surrounding communities are where I learned to be myself and be comfortable with who I am. Ultimately, I came of age in Indy musically, artistically, spiritually.
"Moving away from Indy eight years ago was also very good for me. I'd grown too comfortable maybe, and needed some new scenery and a set of new personal expectations. But every time I come back, and see all the cool progress and wonderful communities that have popped up in the last decade, makes me miss it a lot."
Music has always been part of Henderson's life.
"I grew up listening to Billy Joel, Elton John and Springsteen. Dylan came a bit later. Having sisters and cousins, all of whom were older than me, was great music education; in fact, I latched on heavily to Springsteen from about age 9 until 20 or so. My first concert was Springsteen, March 16th 1987 at the Rosemont Horizon near where I grew up in Chicago. Changed my world!"
"My mother and father were terrific singers, My grandfather, when he came to the States from Sicily at age 16, traveled the country by rail and performed Italian folk songs on his guitar to earn a living. He was very musical he could play my guitar, drums, sing and entertain like nobody's business.
"My parents brought a guitar home from a trip once; I must have been three years old. I fell in love with it. There are still pictures of me with that thing. My favorite memory as a kid is being forced to sing the Patrick Swayze song from Dirty Dancing, 'She's Like the Wind' in front of my entire junior high school at an assembly. So uncool."
Henderson has come a long way since that performance. His new album, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences, landed on in the top ten of the EuroAmericana Chart when it was released. The album is full of smart and thoughtful songwriting, Henderson's endearing voice, heartfelt delivery and an all-star band. The record is quickly gathering positive reviews.
When Henderson started the record he envisioned it as a homemade project.
"After a few starts and stops, I finally started to get my groove on so to speak. I found a terrific drummer [Jake Burton] down in Nashville. I would bring that stuff home and just started adding to it. Jeff Grantham heard what I was doing and we both thought, 'Hey, this sounds pretty good. We should have this professionally mixed and mastered.' We hired Paul Mahern for that purpose, and within a day or so he was producing everything. We kept most of those original drum tracks, and some of my previously recorded guitar and vocal tracks. But everything else was produced by Paul, 100% in his hands. And it was a lot like a snowball; it just kept growing bigger and more awesome. I've never had such resources available to me. It was just mind blowing to have so many lovely and talented people participating on this thing."
Henderson recounts that it wasn't too difficult to choose the songs for the album.
"I've had this record rolling around in my head since about 2006. Though some of the songs are new, I tend to write thematically, and I always knew what this record would be about. On the song 'Learning to Love Loneliness' I wrote:
'I'm learning that life is full of tests, full of questions with no simple guesses, and locked doors and pretty fences, that may never open for me.'
Every song on this record is a little bit about growing up and the obstacles we face as we do. I always loved beautiful doors and pretty fences, and always thought it was interesting how something so beautiful can keep us locked out or in."
Henderson will be performing with a full band of recognizable performers, including Ric Hordinski on lead guitar, Byron House on bass, Bill Mallers on keys, Dan Dorff on drums and Heidi Gluck on guitar and vocals.
Tad Armstrong and Heidi Gluck will both perform opening sets before Henderson and the band take the stage.
Joel Henderson performs on the Player's Spot.