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Chris Henry | Monroe Approved

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Folk: Traditional Folk Country: Bluegrass Moods: Instrumental
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Monroe Approved

by Chris Henry

Bill Monroe acolyte Chris Henry displays an unequalled passion for the mandolin. His tunes are unmistakable; a firey drive fuels his playing. CD includes one previously unrecorded Monroe composition.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. The Indians Are Coming
2:11 $0.99
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2. James River
3:35 $0.99
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3. Paddy On The Turnpike
2:32 $0.99
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4. Listen To The Lonesome Train (Boxcar Door)
3:49 $0.99
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5. Gallatin
2:13 $0.99
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6. Monroe Approved
7:41 $0.99
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7. King David
3:03 $0.99
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8. Red's Zeppelin
3:21 $0.99
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9. Better Late
3:04 $0.99
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10. Farewell To Long Hollow
2:50 $0.99
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11. Whitfield Breakdown
2:42 $0.99
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12. Bed On The Floor
5:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Young Bill Monroe acolyte Chris Henry came by his music honestly. His dad, Red Henry, is a respected Monroe-style mandolinist who passed on his creative spark and dynamic attack to his son. Chris has paid his dues playing guitar with his family band, the Virginia-based Red and Murphy and Their Excellent Children, from the age of eleven, and playing mandolin with such groups as Dave Peterson and 1946, and Audie Blaylock and Redline, since relocating to Nashville in 2003. For the last two years he and his sister Casey have fronted their own band, Casey and Chris and the Two-Stringers, and released their first CD, Get Along Girl, at the beginning of this year. Now with Monroe Approved, his first solo release, Chris displays to the public what mandolin players have known for years: his unmistakable touch and firey creative passion distinguish him as the premier Monroe stylist of his generation.

The idea for Monroe Approved started as a phone call to Chris from Butch Baldassari, who produced the early stages of the recording. Chris wrote and chose material for the project that reflects his approach to Monroe-style mandolin: aggressive, mischievous, and occasionally quite focused and sensitive. He followed Monroe’s lead to create new tunes that preserve the vigor and heart of hardcore bluegrass. The title cut was inspired by an evening backstage at the Grand Ole Opry when David McLaughlin introduced 12-year-old Christopher to the Father of Bluegrass. Upon hearing the young mandolin picker play “Rawhide,” Bill took off his hat, placed it on Chris’s head, and danced around the room, subsequently saying, “If you ever need anything, boy, you come let me know.”

The three-tune medley “Monroe Approved” spans more than seven minutes, the music overlaid with the voice of Bill Monroe himself. One tune in the medley, Monroe’s “Big Spring,” has never previously been recorded. Chris’s originals “The Indians are Coming” and “Gallatin,” Frank Wakefield’s “Catnip” (the hidden track), and Red Henry’s “Red’s Zeppelin” reflect Chris’s penchant for hardcore instrumentals. The triple fiddles of the slow-grooving masterwork “James River” hark strongly back to the Blue Grass Boys’ triple-fiddle sound. “Listen to the Lonsome Train (Boxcar Door),” featuring Roland White, has quickly become a listener favorite for its old-sounding appeal. And the rarely heard triple-mandolin harmony on “Farewell to Long Hollow” stands out as a highlight.

Some of today’s top pickers lend their talents here: Ronnie McCoury, Jason Carter, Mike Bub, David McLaughlin, Robert Bowlin, Alan O’Bryant, and Butch Baldassari, as well as Canadian songster Adam Olmstead, Chris’s uncle John Hedgecoth, sister Casey Henry, and father Red Henry.

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Reviews


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Scott Garnett

5 STARS
The review by Joe Ross is excellent. This album is amazing! Highly recommended listening.
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Joe Ross

Assertive but still somewhat playful
Playing Time – 42:19 -- Chris Henry started playing mandolin when he was just nine. A few years later, he took up guitar. By age twelve, Henry was playing, touring and recording with his parents’ bluegrass group, Red and Murphy & their Excellent Children. Bill Monroe once heard Chris playing “Rawhide” backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, and the Father of Bluegrass proceeded to put his hat on Chris’ head and clog around the room. Thus, the seed for “Monroe Approved” was planted. After moving to Nashville in 2003, charismatic Chris spent a season playing with Dave Peterson and 1946. Now, his solo debut project presents a set of traditional, original, Bill Monroe, and even a Woody Guthrie/Sisco Huston song, “Bed on the Floor.” Chris Henry demonstrates his talent with mandolin and guitar, as well as a lead and harmony vocalist (“Listen to the Lonesome Train”).

A strong proponent and advocate of Monroe-style mandolin, Chris shows that he has strong mastery of the bluesy scales, hammer-ons, pull-offs, downstrokes, and other techniques that Bill used to evoke so much tone and emotion from his 8-stringed instrument. The ancient tones may be best captured in the traditional “Paddy on the Turnpike,” but there are numerous other fiery moments in this album. “James River” was nicely arranged for some hot melodic licks to be traded between Charlie Cushman’s banjo, Jason Carter’s fiddle, and Chris’ guitar and mandolin. Another highlight is the twin mandolins with mandola featured in “Farewell to Long Hollow.” That cut features well-known Nashville multi-instrumentalist John Hedgecoth on banjo, who’s also seen around town with the Nashville Jug Band, Nashville Mandolin Ensemble and Butch Baldassari Trio. Baldassari co-produced this album, and he appears on that same cut.

Chris Henry also invited some of his family, mentors and other friends to participate. Casey Henry, Alan O’Bryant, or Charlie Cushman pick banjo with precision and fire. Chris says his father Red Henry’s “Red’s Zeppelin” is his favorite tune. Presumably inspired by guitarist David McLaughlin, “King David” features David’s lead guitar work. Chris appears on half of guitarist/vocalist Adam Olmstead’s own debut album, and he repays that unpretentious performer by having him sing and play the closing number, “Bed on the Floor.” Other guitarists who appear on the album include Roland White, Ronnie McCoury, and Robert Bowlin (the 1979 national guitar champion). Besides Casey Henry, multi-year IBMA bass player of the year Mike Bub lays in that solid low end foundation and cornerstone for each tune. The title cut, an 8-minute medley of three tunes, is a bit problematic due to its length and the overuse of Monroe’s voice mixed in from Homespun Tapes’ “The Mandolin of Bill Monroe” instructional material. The hidden bonus track that appear when all is picked and done turns out to be Frank Wakefield’s “Catnip.”

There’s much to like about this pleasant and delightful album. The “Monroe Approved” stamp comes with down-home good-time quality assurance. While Bill is gone, I’m sure that Chris and his friends fully certify and warrant this musical undertaking. Mando fans will find the originals to be quite charming. Assertive but still somewhat playful, Chris Henry picks and sings with substance and charm. The various musicians all work well together, and the album emits an air of amiable geniality that characterizes the kinship of family and friends. Just as Bill Monroe was known as “Big Mon,” we may some day know Chris Henry as “Big Hen” if he keeps producing music like this. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
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