Jo Henley is not a person. Rather, Jo Henley is the name under which longtime friends and musical collaborators Andy Campolieto and Ben Lee write, record, and perform their modern mix of folk, rock, bluegrass, and country that their fans affectionately refer to as "new roots" music.
Inspired by everything from old-timey music to arena rock, Campolieto's and Lee's mutual love of all forms of American music shines through in Jo Henley. Michael Hochanadel of the Daily Gazette says, "It has guitars, fiddle and a spry rhythm section with a thumping lope. And it has really, really good songs." The reference is to the band's debut EP Long Way Home, but could have just as easily been about the band itself. Live, Jo Henley is known for fun, rollicking sets filled with well-crafted original songs that often stretch out into boot-stompin' bluegrass territory and even jazzy improv jams without losing focus.
Last year, Jo Henley recorded and released their first full-length record, Sad Songs and Alcohol. A 12-track collection of tattered tales of lost love and broken dreams told against a backdrop of acoustic guitars, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, train beats, and weepy steel guitars, the self-released album found Jo Henley in top form and sent ripples throughout the roots music scene. SS&A caught on with listeners across the country, climbing to number 61 on the national Americana charts (AMAs) as recently as January 2009--without any label support. Over the next year, the band toured everywhere from New England to the deep South and out west to California, building a passionate fanbase along the way.
Summer 2009 was a particularly eventful time for the band. In June they began work on the follow-up to Sad Songs and Alcohol with producer Rob Loyot at Noise in the Attic Studio, just south of Boston. Having long since wanted to bridge their rootsy Americana sound with their love of jamband music, Campolieto and Lee turned to three longstanding members of Phish's Trey Anastasio's solo band: drummer Russ Lawton, keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, and bassist and friend Tony Markellis (who also played on Sad Songs and Alcohol). Jo Henley's own fiddler and mandolinist Jordan Santiago rounds out the record's core lineup. Featuring 11 of their finest songs to date, with blistering performaces throughout, Inside Out is scheduled to be released in February 2010. So far the early buzz points to Inside Out being the album that puts Jo Henley squarely on the national map.
In the meantime, look for Jo Henley--Campolieto, Lee, Santiago, and bassist Jeremy Foti--performing up and down the East Coast, out West, and in a town near you.