The Bo Henry Band has recorded a new CD. Band members are, from left, Tim Carter, Terry Stubbs, Brandon Fox, Joe Maxey, Kent Dowling, Jon Wills, Buck Bradshaw, Mark Brimberry and Bo Henry.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Asked to describe the essence of their recently completed musical masterpiece, "See the Sunrise," some members of local mainstays the Bo Henry Band are at a loss for words.
Drummer Tim Carter loosens his reluctant bandmates' reticence when he offers, "The album's like a nice bowl of gumbo with a lot of spices thrown in. There's a lot there to eat."
Bassist Terry Stubbs has his own unique take: "I like the idea that if you turn (the album) up all the way, it gives you a nice sonic cleanse."
Next up, percussionist Mark Brimberry: "This album is a kaleidoscope; all the songs are different. It takes me back to our first album, what, 15 years ago? And it proves that old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Leave it to the band's namesake, though, to cut to the essence of the question.
"This album is like this band ... We ain't country and we ain't exactly rock; we ain't Southern rock and we ain't soul and we ain't an oldies band and we ain't bluegrass ...," Bo Henry says as he ponders the query. "But we're all of that. We're whatever we feel on any given night.
"I guess the album is just us, it's who we are."
The Bo Henry Band has existed for more than 15 years, a loose and ever-changing collection of some of the region's best musicians that is as flannel-clad laid-back, yet musically accomplished, as the man whose name is on the marquee. BHB have recorded two other albums over their decade and a half together, but neither approaches "Sunrise's" stark introspection.
On songs like the Brandon Fox-penned and sung "Shady Lane" -- a tribute to the masterful guitarist's recently passed father -- and the Henry remembrance "Old Oak Tree," the two integral musicians/songwriters in the nine-man group offer personal glimpses they rarely reveal onstage.
"It wasn't part of the plan to put ('Shady Lane') on the album," Fox said. "But Bo heard it and said we ought to put it on there. It's not really the kind of song you play in a bar or at a frat party."
There are no throw-aways on "See the Sunrise" -- the title track of which is a wistful Henry look at a time of the day the band often sees as it's returning home from a weekend of playing -- and tunes like "Down to Mexico," "The Dealer," "Greasy Headed Granny" and the Buck Bradshaw-sung "I'm Feelin' Better" combine with "Shady Lane" and "Old Oak Tree" to paint perhaps the perfect portrait of the Bo Henry Band, circa 2012.
"The song 'I'm Feelin' Better' is kind of what we're all about," Henry said. "It was a story I was telling, but it just seemed to be a song that fit Buck's voice better. As it turned out, it fits what he does better than if I'd sung it."
Throughout "See the Sunrise," there are flourishes -- little touches here and there -- that allow all BHB members to shine. Whether it's the subtle but perfectly placed horns of sax man Jon Wills and trumpeter Joe Maxey on "Mexico;" Fox and Kent Dowling's Allman Brothers-esque twin guitar mix on "Sunset" or their solos on "Shady Lane" (Dowling) and "Granny" (Fox); Bradshaw's piano and organ work (the former on "Sunrise," the latter on "The Dealer"); the "guest" steel guitar by Kyle Everson on "Old Oak Tree;" or the tight rhythm section of Stubbs, Carter, Brimberry and Henry fit perfectly by engineer Dennis Frazier throughout the mix, these are accomplished musicians doing what they do best.
"Dennis was great to work with," Henry said. "He really made us comfortable in the studio. We did most of the songs live, and he gave us the option of listening through headphones or having a monitor in front of us like we do when we play a live show."
Added Stubbs: "Recording this album was a great experience for us. We had the chance to look at each other, to interact while we were playing. People may not like every song on this album, but there's enough different stuff that there's going to be at least two or three songs everyone will like."
What's not to like about a band that, when confronted by Montgomery cops responding to a noise complaint, cracks the officers up by going immediately into the "Bad Boys" them from TV's "Cops?" A crew that spent the last weekend traveling several hundred miles to shows in Macon Thursday, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday and Pensacola, Fla., Saturday, only to make it home in the wee hours of Sunday morning (seeing another sunrise) so they can be home with their families?
"We're proud of this album," Henry said. "If we sell out all the copies we have, great. If we don't sell a one, no problem. At least we'll have the music out there, and we'll be happy we made it. It's something we'll leave behind."
Fans can pick up their own copies of "See the Sunrise" tonight when BHB hold an album-release celebration at Henry's Harvest Moon restaurant.
"The only reason this band is called the 'Bo Henry Band' is back when we started this and me and Terry and Matt were playing at a local restaurant, they put 'Bo Henry's Band' on the marquee. But this is not my band. This is our band.
"When we play a show, we don't leave some folks out so we can maybe make a little more money. We bring the boys. Us together, that's what makes this band. We wouldn't be the same without the whole."
A nice bowl of gumbo indeed.