interview with Carl Henry

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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
My Facebook is
You can email me at or at

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