Anyone who has an ear for the new swing craze should have an open mind for the toe-tapping blues of Mike Henderson & the Bluebloods.
“We definitely want a lot of what we play to swing, as opposed to rock,” Henderson said recently of the group’s second Dead Reckoning album, “Thicker Than Water” (due Jan. 12). “That’s what I listen to the most; I listen to horn players like Lester Young and Dexter Gordon. That’s my favorite stuff. It really empties my head out good when I sit around and try to write country songs all day.”
By day, Henderson is a staff songwriter for Almo Irving, serving up tunes that have appeared on albums by Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood and Patty Loveless, among others. His big break came in 1988 when the Fabulous Thunderbirds covered his “Powerful Stuff” for the “Cocktail” film soundtrack.
“It was one of the first songs I had ever written,” Henderson said. “When I moved down here (Nashville), I didn’t even know there was such a thing as staff songwriter. As we say around here, ‘I didn’t even know there was a job as a songwriter and now I are one.’ That song was supposed to be for the group I was playing with at the time, the Snakes. Then Disney came along and they wanted that song for Motley Crue for that movie ‘Cocktail.’ The publishers were saying basically, ‘We’re not holding the song, this is too big of a deal here. Motley Crue will make us rich.’
“I can’t verify that this is actually true, but here’s the way I got it: Motley Crue recorded it and then their lead singer got married and decided to take his bride on a worldwide honeymoon and never finished his vocal and the movie was about to come out. Everybody started to panic. (John) Mellencamp was also on that soundtrack, and he begged and begged the music director to have the T-Birds have the song and so that’s how they ended up with it. They did a wonderful job with it.”
By night, Henderson joins his Bluebloods mates John Jarvis (keyboards), Glenn Worf (bass) and John Gardner (drums) – all in-demand studio sessionists – at the Bluebird in Nashville for musical diversions.
“We basically wanted a weekly outlet, to get together and play the music that we enjoyed,” Henderson said. “It still has that ‘weekly poker game’ atmosphere; it’s very unbusinesslike.
“We’re still not serious serious, because nobody depends on this band for income. It’s something that we do because we enjoy it and we love the music. We’ve been to Europe a few times, but for the most part our goal is to play good music and have a good time. We’re trying to keep it that way, trying to keep it from being something where we have to all get uptight and have arguments.”