What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?
My name is Carl Henry, I am a singer songwriter from the Detroit Michigan area
USA, living in Plymouth Michigan. I am 60 years old, and I play guitar and
Dobro. I've mainly been a acoustic artist the bulk of my career, though I do
play electric guitar time to time. I do also work as a duo with my harmonica
partner Tony Berci, and add a drummer, at this time mostly Martin Filatrault
when I want to work as a full band.
How is it that you started playing music? / Did you make music even when you were young?
I started a love of music through my mother, who was a classic trained
pianist. She played Brahms, etc, but also, though her parents did not approve,
she played the eight to the bar boogies. My grandparents looked on this back
then as 'the devil's music", but my Mom loved it just as much. It led to me
searching out other artists in Boogie and Blues to begin with, and it started
with a guitar they bought me at twelve years old. Been going ever since.
Have you had other previous members? / What year did the band form?
I've been playing out for over thirty years now, and there have been changes
in the band members through the years. My first band consisted of Tony Berci
on harmonica, Pete MaCauley on drums, Denny Pullin on bass guitar, and
Neno Blagoyovitch on rythmn guitar, about twenty five years ago. The only
one still with me is Tony Berci at present. Mostly these days I work solo, or
with Tony as a duo. I find there is a better market for that as a professional,
than with a full band, due to economics these days. (I make more money that
way) But when I do play with a band now I add Martin Filitrault on drums.
What's your style of genre?
I am best known here in Detroit for Blues and Boogie. But the Detroit area
requires you to do many different styles of music to entertain the people and
be popular. I also play Country, Folk, and even play Irish music well enough to
be asked to play many Irish Festivals and Irish pubs here as well. I've been
called "The Human Jukebox" because I do so many different genres. My first
love however shall always be the Blues and Boogie.
How have you developed since you started with the music? / Do you have other interests of work outside the band?
My first time playing before the public was in a talent show in high school.
And I was bitten by the entertainment bug. I was overwhelmed at how happy I
could make someone with a song. Somehow that very day, I knew it was what I
was meant to do with my life. Though I had jobs in industry and retail through
the years, I was never happy unless I was on a stage playing. I quit all other
work to become a full time musician over twenty five years ago now. And
though sometimes money and meals were tough, I've never regretted a day of
it. It's who I am.
What inspires you?
The power music has in being a healer. When you make people happy with
your art in a song, make them forget their troubles, put a smile on them. There
isn't a better feeling in the world to me. Even if you are making someone cry
with a tender ballad, their world becomes brighter, because they have stepped
out of theirs, and into yours. Inspiration comes in many forms. From our
politcal scene, to the lives of the people I meet, to the children of today. I
guess life inspires me most. It brings millions of feelings to each of us in
different ways every day.
How have you developed since you started with the music?
In order to answer this, and many other of your questions, I will relate some
of my history to you. When I first started playing, I was in a duo with my
cousin John Nieman, who also played guitar, and we began playing 'open mic'
events at one of the famous old clubs in Detroit, the Soup Kitchen Saloon and
the Attic Bar in the suburb of Hamtramck. In Detroit, though now there is more
of a market for original songwriters, In earlier times of the 1980s all the way
into the present, you had to play 'cover' songs to be popular. So we did, and
became quite popular, playing the Detroit Blues Festival in 1991 in front of
thousands of people. It was shocking to some to see a acoustic blues duo,
when most were all electric full bands of four pieces or more. My cousin left
the duo to work in other interests, and I went solo later in 91. I was also, later
in the mid 90s, in a trio called 'Maggie's Farm' and we played many festivals
and shows all over the state. I left them in 98 to go back solo.
I was encouraged by my friends who had heard some of my originals to do
more of them in my shows. I at that time never thought my talents in
songwriting good enough to be relevant. But I was wrong. And so I started
doing a mix of originals and covers, as I still do today in club and festival
appearances. I was very lucky in those early years to meet personally many of
my heroes in music. John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, many others. John Lee
and I in later years became friends. I also knew many of the people I
considered icons in Detroit Blues, which to this day is under rated. We have a
huge history here that is only now beginning to come into the public's
awareness. It's never been publicized like Nashville or Memphis or Chicago.
But the history runs as deep or deeper. The men who got me started onstage
were "Uncle" Jesse White, and "Mr Bo" Collins. They tought me not only
about the music, but also a lot about life.
So as time passed, I got even more appreciation for the music, and also for
people. I dont perhaps play quite as fast as I did when I was younger, but
because I have always studied, I think my music, and conveying feelings is
indeed better with every passing year.
Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around
Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that?
Up to this point I hae always been on my own. When you look at my website,
all of it is done by me. I do the booking, the shows, the songwriting, and I am
cheif cook and bottle washer. I know this has hurt me in many regards. There
are never enough hours in a day.
I would always be open to booking management, or a record label, I'd love
to take some of the burdens off my back to concentrate further on the music
and performance, and I was blessed recently to me named in the "Top 100
Unsigned Artists" in Music Connection magazine, a national publication here.
I also am featured in a movie that is now being shopped to Film Festivals
hopefully for national distribution,"Paradise Boogie", a history of Blues and
Boogie in Detroit from it's "Paradise Valley" days all the way to present day.
My music so far has been reproduced here by a company Alley Records, and
sold mostly by me at shows, or through my website. I am terribly behind in
getting my music out to the streaming services, and am currently looking into
that now for my next cd release. My last cd "Eat, Drink, Boogie, Repeat" sold
more than I ever have, and was nominated "Best Blues/R&B Recording" in the
Detroit Music Awards in 2013.
What language do you sing in? / What are your songs about? / Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? / Do you start with the music or the lyrics? / Do you compose in a certain inviroment?
My songs vary, from blues songs about life, to protest songs, to what some
would call 'outlaw' country songs. I write all my own compositions. Usually
starting with the lyrics, and adding fitting music. Usually when the ideas
strike, both will come at once as to how I want a song portrayed. Usually it's at
home, but a idea can hit that I will try to get down to at least work on later,
anywhere. All are in English.
What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? / What ages are most of your concert attendants? / Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary?
I like to say I have played them all, big and small. I have done large festivals
including the International Bluesfest in Windsor, and London Ontario Canada,
Thumbfest in Port Huron Michigan, Blue Chiligrass Festival in Goddells
Michigan, Ceasars Palace in Windsor, The Detroit Blues Festival, Winterblast
in Detroit, and Arts Beats & Eats in Royal Oak Michigan, and more. I have
played many many shows in all the small clubs in the Detroit area, and I have
toured in Texas, California, and Florida and some spots inbetween when I was
on the road more. I am looking forward to perhaps another tour this year. In
the last few years I have stayed closer to home, and my grandchildren and
kids, but I still make trips to Indiana, and around our state. But it is always fun
for me on the road, and I look forward to doing it again soon.
So, in short, I have played for crowds of thousands, and clubs with twenty
people. I always try no matter the number to give the very best show I can give.
Have you had to cancel a gig? / Where have you played live this year? / Where do you plan to gig the comming year?
These past three years have been problematic, with kidney stone problems
that have just now been totally solved, and I am back healthier than I have
been in years. In my line of work, a man's word is his bond. Thankfully I have
had to cancel only a very few shows while going through this ordeal. There is
nothing in the world to me worse than cancelling a show.
This year of 2018 I've done Thumbfest, a folk festival playing blues in Port
Huron, Blue ChiliGrass festival in Goodells, and many club shows, including
opening for Walter Trout here at Callahan's in Auburn Hills. (I've played these
festivals for years, and have had the joy of opening for Devon Allman, Johnny
A, and Kim Simmonds in the last few years at Callahan's). I currently play at
least once a month at Thomas Magee's in Eastern Market in Detroit, and Up
North Craft Bar in Livonia, and through the summer I had steady shows at
Bert's Warehouse, and Dequindre Cut Freight Yard, also in Eastern Market in
Detroit, and La Casa Cigar Bar in Ann Arbor Michigan. I do yearly televised
shows taped at the Livonia Public Library here, and there have been more
single shows at separate clubs all around the area here, and all the way to
Chapman's Brewery in Angola Indiana. To list them all...would take another
gigabyte of hard drive space. Ha!
This coming year, along with the venues above who I will continue with, I
hope to tour some more, most likely to Texas, and in the Austin/San Antonio
area. My last tour there was in 2006, and many venues have been kind enough
to want me back. I have made many friends there through my past tour, and I
hope to visit them all again. With my full health back, I am raring to go!
When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? / Where can people buy your merchandise? / What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? / Do you have any new material? / How do you think the music industry have changed because of this?
As I have said, I am far behind the times on selling my merchandise. I sell at
present two past cd's on my website, and this year I hope to release two more
new cd's. One solo, and one with two legends Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
member Billy Davis, who taught Jimi Hendrix guitar while working with Otis
Redding, and was inducted into the Hall for his work with Hank Ballard and
the Midnighters. His history reads like a who's who in Blues and R&B. And
with Maruga Booker, former drummer for John Lee Hooker, and artists from
Bob Dylan to Dave Brubeck. Both these men are legends I am proud to call my
friends. I also hope to re-release a cd from 2013 "Songs From The Five and
Dime" that I recorded with Grammy award winning Sergio Lara. I am now a
member of BMI, and look forward to creating my own catalog of music in a
much larger way than I ever have before. At present I am looking at the many
streaming services to reach more people than every before, and into
publishing my music, which I have also never before done. Like I said I am
behind the times!
As far as downloading instead of buying records, like most older artists like
me I am kind of torn with mixed emotions. When you buy a record, with its
sleeve, liner notes and art, it becomes much more of a interactive experience.
When you download, you experience the song, which is great, but you do lose
that experience of the pictures, art etc that comes with the full album. However
I am the first to understand times have changed, and I dont have a problem
with someone just wanting the song and not the physical product. I feel you
should offer both, or as much as you can, and let the people buying choose.
What do you think of my work? How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music
What have been your biggest obstacles?
From the amount and what I have been able to see of your work, I love it,
and your obvious dedication to music! I've taken time to read some of the
articles, and really enjoyed them, and found them informative. You ask great,
in depth questions!
I dont know to be honest, how big or small your influence in the industry
may be, I've had my head down concentrating on my end of the business so
much, but I am always sure of one thing...there is no bad promotion, and I am
always happy to take time to talk about what I love, my music. And I thank you
again so very much for your interest! It isn't easy doing all the things I do, and
anyone who takes a interest in it, I always try to, as they say 'go the extra mile
for'. If I am able to get signed for a label, or for booking help, it is always a
welcome thing, as it would enable me to spend the time I do doing other
things, to switch back to the music fully. Being a independent is hard! I never
dreamed I would have to become a web developer, promoter, and more when I
first got into this business!
How do you get psyched for a gig?
I will tell you, after thirty some years of doing my thing, I am lucky. I still feel
relevant, I still have that burning desire for the next show, wherever it may be,
and I still feel I give the folks who come to see me a dang good show. I dont
have to 'get psyched'...I was already there. I just try to find the places to let it
Do you have something to add?
I will add you my list of accomplishments through the years, which may
help you see how varied, and blessed I have been.
In December 2018, I was honored to be named to the "Top 100 Unsigned Indie
Artists" in nationally syndicated Music Connection magazine.
I am also very proud to be a part ot the new movie "Paradise Boogie" a history
of Detroit Blues, and Boogie from Paradise Valley days all the way to the
present. At present the movie is in various film festivals, hoping for
nationwide distribution. There will be a dvd release as well!
I have been in the final nominees many times in various categories in the
Detroit Music Awards
2018 Outstanding Blues Instrumentalist
2017 Outstanding Americana Artist
2016 Outstanding Country Instrumentalist
2014 Outstanding Acoustic Artist
2013 Outstanding Blues/R&B Recording for "Eat, Drink, Boogie, Repeat"
I am a proud member of the Detroit Blues Society and was very proud to
represent it in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge, in winning the
solo/duo portion of the Detroit Blues Challenge, in 2014 with harmonica
partner Tony Berci, and also in 2004 solo. (I will attempt, with some luck, to
repeat in 2024 to make it thirty years in competition!)
What are your web sites?
How can people reach?
My website is www.carlhenrymusic.net
My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/carl.henry43
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at