It's a Big Stage With Plenty of Room

The things that compel and motivate people to follow a direction in life are unique.  The level of the actual act that motivates someone to follow that direction is also unique.  

Some people find a comfort zone in a lifestyle and source of income that provides them a life that is steady without too many surprises and keeps them financially comfortable.   
While other people are motivated by the possibilities of what happens when you pursue the result of going for the unknown.   What comes to them while in pursuit of that unknown is something that that can flop and blow up in your face, or succeed as much as you thought, or even more than you could have imagined.   
As someone who has led bands for multiple decades, I have led both of these lives from time to time.   When you've been doing it as long as I have, you have to have both of those desires within you to sustain and, unless you live this life as a one-man band with a bass drum hanging from your stomach and cymbals between your knees, you need to be seen as a band leader that can actually make money for others to work with you.   As I have I seen the recent posts about Nick Hensley on Facebook about his shows at Mattie's in St. Anthony Main and for years his weekly posts about Plum's in St. Paul, I see those desires in him.
In my time in this town in this business, there are those who go where the wind blows them so they have a check to deposit once in a while, and others that dictate where the wind will blow and create opportunities for checks to actually exist in the first place for someone to deposit.   There are those who are solitary in focus and completely do everything in order to achieve a financial and professional goal that only benefits themselves.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who find a way to not only present themselves in a way to get noticed, but also provide the platform to allow others to shine. 
The latter example is the thing that I find intriguing about Nick Hensley.    He has continually provided that platform at Plum's in St Paul for multiple nears in his and Nick Salisbury's Singer-Songwriter Sunday nights, and now he's doing it at Mattie's on Main on St. Anthony Main.   This pursuit of Nick's is an interesting combination of comfort and surprise that he has staked, if not his permanent claim on, certainly an identifiable landmark in the Twin Cities music scene.   But what motivates him to provide this platform for so many musicians in this town?
For someone with such a completely unique vocal style as Hensley and as strong as a songwriter that he is, he certainly doesn't need to share the stage with anybody.   Sit in any venue that he plays in. Watch him and it's abundantly clear that you are not going to hear a more unique vocal than his.   The things he can do with his voice are rather unearthly quite honestly and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways.   There is not another vocalist like him in this town, or perhaps any town.  The original songs I have heard of Hensley are filled with a combination of the wry humor you want to say out loud combined with the sadness that you don't want others to see come from you, but yet through his songs, he gives that to you. That combination of textures creates a great singer-songwriter.  Certainly one that doesn't need to share his time and talent and stage with anybody.  
Yet for some reason, every week, Hensley provides a platform for those who have never had a gig in their life, or are just starting out, to have the chance to perform.   He shares a stage that he could easily have all on his own and provides it for others.  He has shared his stage with my son Tucker for years to perform and most recently and thankfully for the human race, my daughter Mikaela.   I didn't think they could be any cooler than they were before Plum's and  meeting Hensley, but dammit if they aren't even cooler now by knowing him and visiting that world he and Salisbury created at Plums. 
What motivates Hensley to do this each week?  He has staked his claim with this concept in town and he has put time in to so there is a certain safety factor that he has this concept to depend on each week for some weekly income. I have no idea, nor is it none of my business what Hensley makes at Plums or Mattie's providing what provides for first time players, and budding musicians in this town, but let's put it this way, he's not putting a down payment on a house with it each week.   So if it's not a financial motivation, what is it?
As anyone who is a Facebook friend, real human in the flesh friend or has a phone that can get texts will notice that Hensley is a hard working son of a gun.  He plays all the time and carries the flag of a musical troubadour proudly.  As someone who played over a decade doing over 200 gigs a year, there is a certain satisfaction achieved when you can get that many gigs as a band leader.   It means you're doing your job. Hensley is certainly a man who does his job. I admire that quality in him.
The path Hensley walks each week confronts him with assuredness of his weekly gigs because he's done it for years and he knows what to and not to expect because of that experience.  But he also forges his way in to unknown territory for the mere fact that he is a professional musician and every gig has it's own wrinkle of beauty and ugliness that can happen at any moment.  It's makes for an interesting week I bet.    
Hensley has chosen to provide Twin Cities musicians a high quality platform for the "at this moment in time" non-professionals to be in the spotlight as they open themselves up musically, sometimes for the first time in their lives.   It's an effort that can easily taken for granted just because he's been doing it for so long.   I've found that when you do something really well, people naturally take it for granted because the person who has made it look so easy it's perceived as not too difficult to create and sustain.  Those people who think like that would be wrong.  
For whatever reason, Hensley is motivated to share his stage with others.  To be in the background as others shine.   Yes, it's a niche he created in this town and he owns it and it's a weekly source of minimal income for him.  Yes, those nights are guaranteed nights in his busy weekly schedule and he can depend on that, which contributes to his financial amount each week, but that certainly isn't the driving thing why he does it.   Yet, he continues to do it.   
Nick and I know each other and I am a big fan of him musically and personally. Him, and Salisbury and Valdez and Krivanek and the other band of lovable and incorrigible music thugs that hang at Plum's have been great friends and influences for Tucker and Mikaela and I'll always be grateful for that.  It's a good hang down at Plum's.   But I'm not in the Hensley inner-circle and I'm not privy as to what motivates him to provide this platform each week.   Perhaps some day he will share it with me, but if he doesn't, that's cool.   He doesn't have to tell me, or anybody for that matter unless he wants to.  
I'm just glad he does it.  Providing this platform in this town is a vital and much needed avenue for new artists to show what they can do.   To me, the fact that an artist of such unique ability of someone like Hensley is the person that provides this platform, makes the whole thing even more interesting. 
There's a lot of people who need to thank Hensley in this town.   I'm one of them.   

TRANSLATED FROM DUTCH:

A process that grabs you by the scruff of the neck is often a source of inspiration. This includes Nick Hensley and his latest project. He has his musical tale of love, loss and separation entitled: The Beginning of an Ending. A difficult period, when you honestly analyze, can also be beneficial - is his conclusion. This album is dedicated to all those people whose hearts have been repeatedly broken. "We get stronger everytime we put ourselves back together": is Hensley's experience, and he knows that a new beginning can be lurking around the next corner. If you dare to live, he is surprisingly continuously, rarely boring or paved. There are pitfalls, and there are challenges. There are options when you use them within the possibilities you are awarded. Such is life, a matter of trial, get up and move again. Nothing that to consider. You for granted

Several years ago my attention was drawn by Nick Hensley presents Love Songs for Angry Men. A raw album where the haunting raspy singing was leading. Since then, it seems little has changed. The class of the plate is at least continued. Yes, damaged men can be heard and show their feelings without being pathetic to reduced. The Beginning of An Ending again offers several love songs. One of the most beautiful on this album is the duet with Ashleigh Still. A very short track, Awkward Correspondence, but he knocks it out from all sides. The abrasive, almost plaintive, sound on the strings has undoubtedly intended to accentuate it. Painful element Music that speaks! By this I do not at all the say the other songs are lacking. Nick Hensley appeals to your senses, and does not shy away from taking gentle method. The cumulative,The Last Thing You Said, brings tears. Not pity, but sympathy. Fear, insecurity, wounded pride, sadness, a whole portion are put forward. His feelings put to words, can hardly be otherwise, touch you. A therapeutic project, but not one that makes you weep in a towel because, as we said, each end has a new beginning. Music created out of necessity becomes beauty. Here at least.

Rein van den Berg

Homepage: http://www.lovesongsforangrymen.com/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/nick-hensley-1/awkward-correspondence-feat

Also by this artist: http://johnnysgarden.eu/?q=node/563

Love Songs For Angry Men | Acoustic, Americana, Alt Country, Celtic, Folk, Nick Hensley | Home
www.lovesongsforangrymen.com

“The Beginning of an Ending”

Nick Hensley is a broken but brilliant heart that pours his passion for love lost and expressions of pain into his sophomore CD “The Beginning of an Ending”. His deep throaty voice resonates to your core when he paints the pictures through his personal journey of mistakes made, fear of loss, and how to move forward after picking up shattered pieces of a broken heart. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his journey of a rediscovery of who he truly is and how love has such an impact on someone but does not ultimately define them.

“Awkward Correspondence” is a song written about the parody of an online dating service and how awkward it can be getting to know someone. The discomfort of meeting someone new, how to relate to the unknown, and makes something as simple as ordering a drink seem complicated. “Forgetting” speaks volumes on how people struggle with how difficult letting go really is. We are taught to forgive but forgetting is not a learned behavior when it comes to pain and suffering and how to release those emotions. The next song on the CD “The Beginning of an Ending” is written about how one can miss someone when they are even close physically. The premise of letting go of someone or something that at one time was so near and dear haunts his soul and even if the writing is on the wall, it is never easy to believe the end is near. Track 9 “The Last Thing You Said” is a struggle with words spoken and the toll it takes on ones emotions. A spoken word can be very powerful and never retracted once it is heard. It also shows how we compartmentalize things within ourselves and how do we work within our own demons to pick ourselves up and move forward because what is done is done. The end of the CD sums the journey of heartache and the feelings of despair with “I Don’t Need You”. There is a distinct difference between needs and wants in life and how one views them makes a difference in how one perceives their own reality. I do love the line: “I don’t need you…I just think I do…only when I think of you…”

If you have ever felt the pain of love lost, “The Beginning of an Ending” is a must for your music library. The pure emotion poured into Nick’s lyrics and voice become therapeutic for those looking for answers to things that you may not even know the questions. The beauty of Nick’s work is his ability to share in his pain on a very personal level that makes you enjoy him and his artistic abilities even more. Keep on your road to rediscovery Nick, life happens and it is a beautiful mess at times. You have a true brilliance about you and are a prophetic storyteller that can give words meaning through verse. I truly want to thank you for sharing your journey. I’m sure this is just one chapter of many to come and I cannot wait for the next verse about finding yourself through someone else and how love can rebuild such a brilliant yet broken soul.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Songs-Angry-Nick-Hensley/dp/B001VLFDSG

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nickhensley

http://us.myspace.com/angrymen

https://www.facebook.com/lovesongsforangrymen

Lovesongsforangrymen.com

-A3 (Mmmm)

"Huge vocals, rich guitar tones and heart wrenching lyrics are what drives this highly anticipated 2nd album from indie folksmith, Nick Hensley (aka Love Songs For Angry Men), from Saint Paul, Minnesota."

"Hensley's first solo effort, Love Songs For Angry Men, is destined to be an indie classic. The lyrically driven, Americana album is similiar to the works of Ryan Adams with a shot of Celtic pain poured in the mix."

Gray Laurent - Paste Online Magazine

4 OUT OF 4 STARS

"Whether singing about barefoot prophets in his front yard or a crush on a Saint Paul girl bound for Hollywood, Nick Hensley has a knack for telling it like it is in his rootsy, alcohol-induced, alt-country way. Love Songs for Angry Men lives up to its promise. Just don’t expect a phone call the morning after."

 

My brother tipped me this Nick Hensley CD a while ago. If we are in terms of genre music on the same track, and give each other sometimes an occasional boost. Patches of Love Songs for Angry Men came by occasionally from a digital source nearby. Secretly I sometimes had to look at the display on my screen: "Who is this" Simply, this is the kind of music that matters! But before I could focus on this CD, myself carefully we unfortunately been a month or three more. However, my brother Drenthe right that this is one of the better albums of 2009. Most of the songs have been around for several years, although this result is Nick's first solo. Some were already regularly played by former band of this new singer songwriter.
Some of these songs are even previously recorded. If you are lucky you will find them something on Ebay. But my instinct tells me that this acoustic music of The District is scarce, because even though there are several live recordings, the material was sold only after concerts. When terziele go of this group began acute Nick's solo career. Nick Hensley is the only fixed component during the recording of this CD, as well as performances by this artist draws from a rotating musical group. Besides the 14 balanced compositions, is the basis of this record without any doubt the raw voice of Nick. Even though the numbers considering semi-acoustic, they wear obviously a hard rock feel to it.
Retained voltage at intelligently written material about the rough rootsy life. No poetic conceit, but music about alcohol and women, and other types of loves. Love Songs for Angry Men is the title, and indeed systematically seeps through something of disappointment, but also regret. Get Off The Fence is one of the shortest songs, and provides simplified again the theme that Nick Hensley sings in his music. Let's make the world a better place, less complexities, and more understanding. But "I'm a Rock 'n Roll fool, who traded his live for a Barstool" Music from the heart of a tough guy who actually still show very mild weather. This is a clear case, accompanied toehalen that man!

TRANSLATED FROM DUTCH:

 

My brother tipped me onto Nick Hensley's CD a while ago. If we are in terms of genre music on the same track, and give each other sometimes an occasional boost. Patches of Love Songs for Angry Men came by occasionally from a digital source nearby. Secretly,I sometimes had to look at the display on my screen: "Who is this" Simply, this is the kind of music that matters! But before I could focus on this CD, myself carefully we unfortunately been a month or three more. However, my brother Drenthe was right.  This is one of the better albums of 2009.

Most of the songs have been around for several years, although this result is Nick's first solo. Some were already regularly played by former band of this new singer songwriter. Some of these songs are even previously recorded. (If you are lucky you will find them on Ebay). But my instinct tells me that the acoustic music of The District is scarce, because even though there are several live recordings, the material was sold only after concerts. When the end go of this group began acute Nick's solo career. Nick Hensley is the only fixed component during the recording of this new CD, as well as performances by this artist draws from a rotating musical group. Besides the 14 balanced compositions, is the basis of this record without any doubt the raw voice of Nick. Even though the numbers considering semi-acoustic, some wear obviously a hard rock feel to it.

Retained voltage at intelligently written material about the rough rootsy life. No poetic conceit, but music about alcohol, women, and other types of loves. Love Songs for Angry Men is the title, and indeed systematically seeps through something of regret.  Nick Hensley sings in his music. Let's make the world a better place, less complexities, and more understanding. But "I'm a Rock 'n Roll fool, who traded his live for a Barstool" Music from the heart of a tough guy who actually still show very mild weather. This is a clear case, accompanied toehalen that man!

 

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