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December 2015

Weekend preview: The heart and art of a dog

by Ben Crandell

For years, I walked the Earth thinking Henry Gross’ 1976 hit “Shannon” was about the saddest song I’d ever heard, especially it being based on a true story. Imagine losing the love of your life in a drowning, you clinging to the faint hope that she might be “drifting out to sea” toward some island.

OK, so I grew up, and learned the song wasn’t written about his high-school sweetheart, but instead was a lament over the loss of a dog (Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s dog, which didn’t drown exactly, but that’s more story than we have room for). The thing is, when I found out the song was about the drowning of a family dog, not a girlfriend, it was even more crushingly sad. Is it wrong to feel that way?

This weekend brings the South Florida premiere of musical polymath Laurie Anderson’s film “Heart of a Dog,” which weaves her feelings about the literal loss of her rat terrier Lolabelle — the paw-painting, piano-playing puppy-mill rescue that she and Lou Reed shared a home with until Lolabelle’s death in 2011 — and a kaleidoscope of other distress, from 9/11 to the death of her husband.

The Los Angeles Times review of Anderson’s “experimental marvel” called the film “that rarest of pieces, an unabashedly experimental work that's as inviting as a visit with an old friend, one who may not always make sense, who's sometimes goofy, but has been through a lot lately and treasures the opportunity to artfully unload.”

“Heart of a Dog” begins weeklong runs on Friday at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale (FLIFF.com) and Coral Gables Art Cinema (GablesCinema.com). The film will screen at the Stonzek Theatre in the Lake Worth Playhouse beginning Dec. 18 (LakeWorthPlayhouse.org).

Henry Gross has other songs besides “Shannon,” of course, which is the point of his new residency at Lafayette’s at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. Performances are 7 p.m. every Sunday through the end of January. A friend says that along with songs from more than 20 solo albums, Gross is quite the funny storyteller. Trivia: Gross was once a member of Sha Na Na, and at age 18 the youngest person to play the main stage at Woodstock. Surprisingly, admission to Gross’ show is free. Info: Lafayettes.com, HenryGross.com.

South Florida.com

http://www.southflorida.com/

Top 50 Concerts of 2015
John J. Moser
THE MORNING CALL

41. Henry Gross, March 16, Miguel’s Restaurant, Nazareth

Soft-rock of the mid-1970s often is dismissed as a time of milquetoast music, but anyone who listened then and listens now knows there were some really good songs made in those years. What if the attention those songwriters paid to their craft and singers to their performances had developed over the decades instead of being pushed aside by disco, then hip-hop? Singer-songwriter Henry Gross showed precisely what would have happened-and did happen, albeit little noticed-when he performed at Miguel’s restaurant in Nazareth. Gross, 62, a founding member of the group Sha Na Na and who had the solo soft-rock hit “Shannon” in 1976, gave a performance that was refreshingly good from start to finish- well-crafted songs that he performed astonishingly well.

Saturday, February 14, 2015
Music reviews by the painfully unhip.

Henry Gross - I’m Hearing Things
(2001) (Harrison Reviews 2015 #7)

One of my areas of particular interest as a listener is contemporary albums from older musicians. I think it’s fair to say that most hit musicians hit the peak of their popularity while young, but musical talent doesn’t really fade with age, so time and the absence of a spotlight can create beautiful things.

Henry Gross is a fine example. As a popular musician, he’s very near the definition of a flash in the pan, as he had only one major hit -“Shannon,” a song about, of all things, the death of Carl Wilson’s dog -way back in 1976. Of course I know that song well enough from radio, but Gross didn’t really come across my radar until much later. I believe it was a song on my Pandora station that led me to add Gross’s 2001 album I’m Hearing Things to my list, and it’s only within the last several months that I was able to find it.

My recollection is that it’s “Above the Rain” that hooked me, and with good reason. I’m always a sucker for a slinky 6/8 number with a descending melody, so maybe “Above the Rain” was destined to get my attention, but writing in that style is not intrinsically the same as writing well. But Gross, working here with bassist Garry Tallent, puts together a hell of a song, the melody building into a terrifically hooky chorus. On the album it’s an even better track than I remember, with Gross’s voice channeling a bit of John Lennon and, toward the end, leaping into the falsetto he has apparently maintained since the days of “Shannon.”

But “Above the Rain” is a stronger song than “Shannon.” And what I’m Hearing Things reveals, very quickly, is that it’s not remotely a fluke. Opening track “I’m Not Myself” is a pop gem built atop a sixties/seventies rock and roll groove, carrying with it a fine guitar solo partway through. And if Gross recalls Lennon on “Above the Rain,” he also provides some George Harrison on “I’ve Got Love For You,” followed immediately by Paul McCartney in the rollicking “Fixing Your Broken Heart.”

It’s not just the Beatles, of course. A particular favorite for me is “Mama Who’s Gonna Rock,” which sounds pretty much exactly like the kind of rocker that would have been a radio hit in the early to mid-seventies -T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong” may be the most obvious parallel. And “Many Lives, Many Masters” recalls no one so much as Gerry Rafferty. And in making all these connections, I don’t mean to criticize what Gross has done here, at all. It’s hard to call a song a pastiche when it comes from a musician who was genuinely popular in the same era. The point is simply that Gross reveals himself here as a superior pop craftsman.

While I’m making connections, here’s another weird one: As I listened to this album, I found myself thinking of Sean Lennon. I listened to two Sean Lennon albums last year, one that showed promise (2006’s Friendly Fire) and one that did not (1998’s Into the Sun), but one of the problems with both is that, while each showed Lennon’s biological predilection toward quirky chord progressions, Lennon lacked either the drive or the talent to craft his hooks. Gross has those same inclinations (though not biologically, obviously), but he also has a particular knack for writing intelligent, decisive melodies with hooks that are not just good, but instantly memorable. And that makes I’m Hearing Things a superior collection of mostly upbeat smart pop.

Intelligence may be at the core of this album. It shows up in Gross’s guitar playing too. Though clearly a versatile musician, Gross never gives into excess, sticking instead to rhythm and solo parts that serve their songs perfectly. And his vocals are much the same - I’m not familiar enough with 1970s Gross to comment on how his voice has or has not changed, but he sounds terrific here, his soft, engaging voice bringing out his melodies nearly without flaw. And when he does choose to go back to the falsetto so prominent in “Shannon,” which he does most prominently in the beautiful closing track “If You Don’t Believe in Me,” he does it with impressive ease.

If there’s a criticism to be made of this album, it may be that there’s no knockout punch. This album’s fourteen tracks are remarkably consistent - they’re all very, very good - but nothing here is going to rock your world. Nothing is going to make you cry. But criticizing that is like criticizing a comedy for the absence of Oscar-worthy dramatic performances. I’m Hearing Things has no greater aim than to be a collection of seventies-style pop tunes, and that Gross pulls off better than anyone I’ve listened to for a long time. When he works in other styles, like country on “Lucky Me” and “Tomorrow’s Gonna Come,” he does it seamlessly.

If you’re a fan of intelligent pop, Henry Gross’s I’m Hearing Things is an album you need to hear. “Above the Rain” all those years ago set my expectations pretty high, but this album hits them dead on. Gross has nailed it here, and I hope it’s not so hard to find the next one.

Vintage Guitar Magazine,
July, 2001
John Heidt

Wow! That was my first reaction to this one. Gross, as some of you may remember was noted for one hit back in the 70's. That song - "Shannon" - was not exactly a barnburner, and apparently was about the death of his dog. I also remember Henry because it seemed like he opened every concert I went to in the Midwest in the middle part of that decade. Didn't matter who the headliners were, there was Henry opening.

So when I first listened to this CD and heard some great pop/rock (in fact, some of the best pop/rock I've heard in a while) I was pleasantly surprised. Influences aren't hard to spot. He obviously has an affinity for the Beatles and George Harrison's guitar sound. From the opener, "I'm Not Myself," with its crunchy rhythms and jangly 12-string fills, to the George-esque slide of "I've Got Love For You," he wears that influence on his sleeve. Other cuts bring to mind the late, great Harry Nilsson. The pop heaven of "Fixing Your Broken Heart" certainly would bring a smile to Harry.

Before you think this is just a guy sounding like his heroes, let me just say he brings a great feel and sound all his own to all the cuts here. And talk about hooks! In a just radio age, "Rosie's Garden" would be an instant hit. And the wah-ed opening and killer vocals and hook of "Mama, Who's Gonna Rock You" are the makings of instant classic rock.

Henry now makes his home in Nashville, and there are some definite nods to the capital of country music. "Lucky Me" is a great country tune with one of the best first lines you'll ever hear, "Waitress asks me if I'm famous, I say no…but I'm hungry." And the harmonized guitar parts and nice writing of "Since I've Been Loving You" has country written all over it.

Plain and simple, this is one of my favorite albums of any genre this year. Hopefully it will find a nice audience. Oh, by the way, the picture on the back of the CD has Henry surrounded by his guitars and amps. It's quite a scene.

Listening with Lee
Lee Zimmerman
Entertainment News and View

To those that remember him, Henry Gross might seem the typical one hit wonder. Back in the mid-'70s, he scored an unlikely chart-buster with an ode to his deceased dog. It was a song called "Shannon" and it featured some of the tightest high harmonies since the Beach Boys sang about a certain surfer girl. A few well-made albums followed, but sadly, Henry was never again able to hit those heights of success.

If justice had anything to do with popular appeal, Gross would regain that acclaim with his latest effort, I'm Hearing Things, released on his own independent Zelda label. True, his hair may be thinning and his voice may strain just to hit those high notes, but clearly he hasn't lost his ability to write and produce superior songs and immaculate arrangements. Once upon a time, these tunes would have propelled him back to the top of the charts. Sadly, radio is in such a sad state, memorable melodies, heavenly hooks and irresistible refrains don't count for much anymore. Regardless, Henry has them all here. Songs such as "I'm Not Myself," "Mama Who's Gonna Rock" and "Love to a Memory" are the kind of compositions that capture the spirit of pure pop, filled with a timeless tunefulness and classic cadence that sometimes recalls the Beatles in their craft and creative spirit. "Lucky Me" and "Time's Gonna Come" make a natural transition into a country-ish vein, but there again, Gross sounds credible, capable and commercially adept.

Of course, Gross is no stranger to popular expectations -- he played Woodstock as a member of the oldies revival outfit Sha Na Na. Thirty plus years later, his music's more astute and accessible than ever. All it needs is to be noticed. (www.henrygross.com)

I'm Hearing Things, Henry Gross

Not Lame

What a great little surprise! Gross had a huge hit in the mid 70's ("Shannon") and has been around for a long time, no doubt, but here is a big nugget of pristine, clean and bright 'n sparkly music that falls under the classification of 'power pop', arguably.

Like David Graham and Bill Lloyd, Gross skillfully blends elements of classic pop music forms(and best of the The Beatles) of the past four decades into all this excellent material. "Mona Lisa Smile" sounds like Walter Clevenger or Nick Lowe/Rockpile; while "Tomorrow's Gonna Come" could be Kevin Welch, others sound like classic Wings material.

The Rickebackers (and tons of other guitars) pictured on back cover say it all, in many ways as all these songs crackle with proud ringing and chiming and the entire CD stands as a symbol and sign that many artists get better as time rolls on. "An absolute delight of an unpretentious pop album which finds Gross leaping from genre to genre to genre, yet results in a surprisingly cohesive whole ...some records try to grab the listener's attention with flash and histronics; others let the music do the talking.

Place this in the later category and miss at your own peril!"-Amplifier. Extremely Highly Recommended for any and all!

20th Century Guitar
Robert Silverstein, June 2001

NYC native Henry Gross is remembered by pop fans for a string of high quality albums released during the 70's and 80's. Gross first gained exposure at age 18 as a member of revival band Sha Na Na and their performance at Woodstock is still the stuff legends are made of.

A variety of album releases on ABC Dunhill, Lifesong, A&M and CBS Records followed with Gross achieving cult status among a contingent of in-the-know pop mavens. Moving to Nashville several years back, Gross returns in 2001 with a solid new pop album featuring support from top studio musicians such as Garry Tallent (bass), Clive Gregson (keyboards), and Wayne Killius (drums) to name a few.

Henry's music still sounds inspired by the breezy, catchy pop-rock he became famous for back in the 70's. An outstanding guitarist and singer-songwriter, Gross still has the power to knock you out with a solid pop hook.

Thanking His Lucky Stars
The Tennessean
By Craig Havighurst

Henry Gross offers songs from his new album I'm Hearing Things at the Ryman tonight in an opening gig for the Doobie Brothers.

''I'm six parts beggar and one part chooser at best,'' sings Henry Gross in his humility laced song Lucky Me. He goes on: ''Nothing in this world can get me down upon my bended knees. I'm proud of who I am. In fact, I'm blessed.''

That's a darn good attitude and it feels like the real thing when talking to Gross about his 30-plus-year, undeniably obscure career in rock 'n' roll. He's one of those artists who got to make numerous records, have a hit and play huge arenas, but he never quite broke through that glass ceiling into the firmament of stardom.

Tonight, as he has scores of times, he opens for his pals the Doobie Brothers.

If you're over 35, you may well be feeling that tickle of recognition but not much more, so here's your hint. In your best keening falsetto voice, sing ''Shannon is gone, I hope she's drifting out to sea,'' while imagining swelling strings behind you.

That song, the 1976 soft-rock hit Shannon, was the commercial high-water mark for Gross, but there were plenty of other rewards. He was a founding member of the doo-wop revival group Sha Na Na, which put him on stage at Woodstock. He was a solo artist on A&M records in the 1970s, when it represented one of the last powerhouse independent rock labels.

Today, Gross is a Nashvillian. He has been since 1986, when he found himself here by happenstance and stayed because of the agreeable songwriting atmosphere and the manageable pace of life. His best stroke as a tunesmith: Big Guitar, a top 15 hit for BlackHawk, written with band member Henry Paul.

Recently, he released I'm Hearing Things, his first album in years, on his own Zelda Records (named after his late mother). The schmaltz of Shannon is left far behind, and the record instead reflects a Beatles-inspired pop sound that has been compared to Nick Lowe's band Rockpile and Nashville's own Bill Lloyd. It's not a self-conscious bid for relevance or a swan song. It's just a record made for the love of music and crafted with the touch of someone who has played for a living for a good many years.

It also has been well received, especially by the guitar press, which noticed the range of well-captured vintage six-strings on the album and the massive collection of guitars pictured with Gross on the back.

''I remember looking in the window of Sam Ash in New York,'' says Gross, who got his first guitar as a teen-ager growing up in Brooklyn. ''I never cared about cars and houses and stuff that people buy. I always wanted guitars.''

He went to work at 14, playing clubs in the city and the Catskills. When he was 18, fate intervened in the form of hair oil and gold lame suits.

Sha Na Na was born when the glee club from Columbia University sang a handful of oldies in a 1969 concert and got a huge response. A promoter then quickly assembled members of the glee club for an outdoor doo-wop concert on the steps of the university library.

''The reaction was astonishing,'' Gross recalls, even though the performance was ''unbelievably bad.''

''Incredibly enough, some of the guys in the glee club had never heard of Little Richard. They knew the Pat Boone versions,'' he says. But the audience went crazy, a band of willing singers was corralled for a regular group and Gross was asked to join as lead guitarist.

A costumed band playing retro music had the power of novelty in the early 1970s, but Gross says he quit after a few years. ''I loved the shock, and I stayed as long as it was a shock. It was becoming a comedy act and I really loved the music.''

Indeed the elaborate vocals of doo-wop music remains Gross' guiding light.

''I can't get over the voices,'' he says. ''The Jive Five singing My True Story. What's better than that? As much as I love the genius of Phil Spector, nothing gets close to Little Bitty Pretty One or Stay or any of that stuff. Those were things as kids we could get together in the basement and if we could sing good, could sound like that.''

Not surprisingly, modern pop music is something Gross regards with a wary, slightly caustic eye. He knows the rules of the game.

''When you're over 50, if someone suggested signing me, it would be tantamount to job suicide,'' he says with a laugh. But that Lucky Me stuff doesn't seem ironic.

''It's been good and it just keeps going on. Without a budget it's hard to get in the game, but I love what I get. It's a great privilege to make a living doing this.''

Gross' album is available at www.henrygross.com.
Craig Havighurst covers music for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 259-8041 or at chavighurst@tennessean.com.

 .jewishscenemagazine.com
Up Close With Singer/Songwriter Henry Gross
June 14, 2016 by Susan Nieman 

Fans, young and old, filled Lafayette’s Music Room in Overton Square for an intimate afternoon with musician Henry Gross. After years away from the city, he was greeted with enthusiasm and returned the favor by singing long-time favorites and throwing in newer tunes and an occasional joke.

The venue was a perfect match for this singer/songwriter who lives each day to write, record and hopefully bring joy to fans near and far.

 He’s a true rock & roller who enjoys most music genres. “I grew up loving doo-wop, R&B, pop, jazz and Elvis,” said Henry. At age 13 he played with his first band, The Auroras, at the 1964-65 Worlds’ Fair in New York City. At age 14 he was playing at local clubs around the city and in the summers at Catskill Mountain Resort hotels. You may recall him as a co-founding member of the rock & roll revival group, Sha Na Na, where at 18 he was the youngest person to perform at Woodstock.

He left the band in 1970, to pursue his dream of becoming a singer, songwriter. “I ignored the pop charts and wrote music that spoke to my heart,” he said. He’s recorded 65 songs and 15 albums and loves playing live to an audience. He’s not a fan of manufactured songs or songs targeted towards a specific group, but more about songs that speak to your heart.

“The beauty of music is that it bridges all gaps,” he said. “It should be inclusive. When you come to hear my music it should make you feel emotions. I write songs about things that happen to me. If it happens to me, then it probably has happened to all of us.”

After 50-plus years, Henry continues to give 100% of himself to fans. “When someone comes to one of my shows it is a gift, like a handshake; and in return I am committed to giving them a heartfelt performance.”

Henry says that the Internet rescued him many years ago. “There are people who come to my shows to hear the oldies (like “Shannon,”) who may never have heard the newer songs. Then there are those who may have heard something online and have become a new fan. It’s all about finding an audience one at a time.”

 On a rainy Sunday afternoon in Memphis, “for the Early Bird Special” as Henry remarked (after all it was 4 p.m.), Henry lived up to his promise. Fans sang along and when he was finished singing he stayed around to talk with friends old and new, take photos, sign CDs and even old records. It was like visiting an old friend.

Henry, his wife, Marilyn, and their three dogs and three cats split their time between Nashville and Naples Florida.

Recently Augusta Amusements hosted Henry Gross and his “One Hit Wanderer” show.

It was an absolutely amazing evening listening to Henry’s challenges and successes during his lengthy career.

The show was mixed with memorabilia, still pictures, stories and songs from a Rock and Roll era many of us fondly remember.

As a promoter, you look for artists that are easy to work with and bring a powerful performance to your venue.

Henry Gross: “One Hit Wanderer” is your answer when seeking an entertainer and he will leave your audience completely satisfied.

Mike Deas - Augusta Amusements

Palm Beach Arts Paper

At Lafayette’s, Rocker Henry Gross Covers Career, Looks Forward

Quick, name the youngest artist who performed on the main stage at Woodstock in 1969.

No, it wasn’t Carlos Santana, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Sly Stone, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, or any of the members of the Grateful Dead, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, or The Band.

It was an 18-year-old singer/guitarist named Henry Gross, who performed with doo-wop vocal ensemble Sha Na Na. Now 64, the Brooklyn native went solo in 1970, scored his lone chart-climbing hit with “Shannon” in 1976, and still hasn’t lost his sense of humor — as evidenced by his 2006 theatrical production and soundtrack, One-Hit Wanderer.

Gross is now based in Nashville, but wanders down to his second home in Naples annually with wife Marilyn. That Southern base has allowed him to take an every-Sunday residency at Lafayette’s in CityPlace through December and January, and his tireless two-hour set Sunday wasn’t your father’s typical solo singer/songwriter fare.

The affable Gross worked the room as people trickled in, making eye contact with each one and chatting with many between songs that ranged from throughout his 45-year recording and touring career. And he displayed the same impressive musicianship and vocal range for less than 50 people as he had for 500,000 at Woodstock, without a hint of any glory-days longing.

Early highlights included Gross’ comedic and timely “Happy New Year (To Almost Everyone),” from his latest release, Right as Rain, from 2011, the raucous “Mama, Who’s Gonna Rock” from One-Hit Wanderer, and “Painting My Love Songs,” a masterful pop piece that originally displayed his falsetto vocal range and Byrds-like acoustic guitar intricacy on the 1977 album Show Me to the Stage.

On a Sha Na Na-inspired solo take of the 1934 Rodgers and Hart standard “Blue Moon,” Gross went further, covering all of the layered vocal parts, falsetto to baritone.

“People always ask me for those old tunes,” he said with an ever-present smile, “but I, of course, want to play what I just wrote.”

The results bode well for the next Gross CD. The 6/8-timed ballad “Wrong End of the Rainbow” echoed the late Jeff Buckley; “The Wrath of Grapes” mixed humor into a drinking blues number, and the rocking “I Don’t Know How To Tell Her Apart” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Rolling Stones release, right down to the clever wordplay (“She’s got more faces than Eve.”).

Gross occasionally slowed the proceedings, befitting of the seasoned pacing he’s learned from playing everything from restaurants to stadiums during his career. The title ballad from his 2007 CD Foreverland did that perfectly, and he showed he’d visited the Florida Keys during his Sunshine State residency on the tranquil “Islamorada,” from Right as Rain.

“I used to play at the original Lafayette’s location in Memphis, Tennessee,” Gross said, “which opened in 1972. Here’s a song from that era.”

“Overton Square,” from Gross’s 1976 album Release, showed his love for New Orleans jazz, with alternately playful and ominous chords that echoed the traditional “St. James Infirmary.” Other late, memorable throwbacks included the gorgeous, building ballad “Simone,” from Gross’ self-titled 1973 debut, and “Shannon,” his biggest hit.

Written as an ode to the Irish setter owned by friend Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys after Shannon had been hit by a car and killed, the mid-tempo ballad again showed a rare falsetto range by Gross that hasn’t faded with time. And neither has its composer’s love of animals. He and Marilyn have three dogs and three cats.

Newer Right as Rain tracks like the bluesy “Dead Strings” and comedic “The Night You Picked Up the Check” dotted the show’s final performances, but Gross closed his several encores with a musical rendition of a nursery rhyme his grandmother used to sing to him, “Star Light, Star Bright.”

As evidenced by his witty and introspective lyrics, not much information gets past Gross. It was, after all, a full moon that night.

Written by Bill Meredith on 29 December 2015.

March 17, 2014

REVIEW: Henry Gross shows how good '70s music was
-- and still can be

by John J. Moser

Soft-rock of the mid-1970s often is dismissed as a time of milquetoast music, but anyone who listened then and listens now knows there were some really good songs made in those years.

What if the attention those songwriters paid to their craft and singers to their performances had developed over the decades instead of being pushed aside by disco, then hip-hop?

Singer-songwriter Henry Gross showed precisely what would have happened-and did happen, albeit little noticed - when he performed Sunday at Miguel’s restaurant in Nazareth.

Henry Gross at Miguels in Nazareth

Gross, 62, a founding member of the group Sha Na Na and who had the solo soft-rock hit “Shannon” in 1976, gave a performance that was refreshingly good from start to finish - well-crafted songs that he performed astonishingly well.

The opening song, “If You Want to Be in Love Tonight,” showed from the start how good Gross is. Performing solo and playing ukulele, Gross played the pleasantly upbeat song and unveiled a voice impressively high and amazingly preserved over the past 45 years.

That was a harbinger: Song after song for the rest of the 95-minute, 20-song set, Gross delivered delightful songs, impeccably performed, and even was engaging with his between-song stories.

Perhaps most surprising was that the songs demonstrated the breadth Gross’s output over the years.

Henry Gross live 2

From the 1980s, there was the nicely voiced (he hit a great high note) guitar strummer “Long Cadillac” and one of the best of the night, the Buddy Holly-esque “I Fall in Love Too Much,” which he described as “a rocking country song from my youth.” His high voice and bright, jangly guitar were great.

There were songs from the early 2000s, such as the bluesy, ‘70s-rock “Mama, Who’s Gonna Rock,” the soft blues and sweet unrequited love lyrics of “Overton Square” (which also showed how well his voice is preserved) and another of the night’s best, “Lucky Me,” slightly Dylanesque, with wonderfully stated lyrics about loving what you have and heavenly rewards.

Another early 2000s song, and another highlight, was “High Enough,” sung emphatically with beautifully self-enlightened lyrics: “Been low enough to steal pennies from a fountain/Been high enough to toss them back again.” It was so good, the audience spontaneously clapped along.

And there were recent songs, such as the opener and the bluesy “Dead Strings,” both from Gross’s 2011 album “Rhymes and Misdemeanors.” He even did song, “Simone” a stronger lover song from his pre-“Shannon” 1973 debut album, on which his mid-range voice ratcheted up the intensity.

Henry Gross live 3

Gross also spanned his career stylistically. He sang The Marcels hit “Blue Moon,” which Sha Na Na did, and did it superbly, his voice wonderful from the bass of the “bom-be-da-bom” backbeat to the falsetto verses. He was so good the crowd applauded mid-song.

He did a country song he wrote for Jerry Lee Lewis (prefaced by a snippet of “Big Guitar,” a country song later recorded by Cyndi Lauper and Judy Collins). He did “Six O’ Clock,” a song he wrote for Little Richard. And he sang “I’ve Got Love for You,” a song he wrote for George Harrison, in a lighter Dylanesque  voice.

He did rockabilly and blues, and even spoken word on the delightful (and, he pointed out, geographically appropriate) “Geezers of Nazareth.” And he wound down his set with a combination of Charlie Chaplain’s “Smile” and his “Fixing Your Broken Heart,” sung in a gentle voice akin to those mid-‘70s hits.

He closed hit set with another ‘70s-sounding song, “Islamorada,” the nice rolling-guitar song “Tomorrow’s Gonna Come” and then, of course, “Shannon.”

“Maybe you’ll remember this one,” he told the crowd, then sang the song in the same amazingly high, crystal-clear falsetto voice from the mid-1970s.

In that one song, Gross showed there was, indeed, some good music in the 1970s, and how good that that type of music can still be these years later.

Vintage Guitar Magazine
May 2007
Hit List Reviews:

Henry Gross
One Hit Wanderer
Zelda Records

Henry Gross’ 2001 release, I’m Hearing Things, was one of the most pleasant musical surprises of the past 10 years. Now he’s back with a set of songs from a one-man show that highlights his career in music. There are 17 tunes, two of which are ringers. You’ll find the original versions of “Shannon” and the wonderful “Mama Who’s Gonna Rock” here, but other than that, it’s Gross playing a lot of instruments, singing wonderfully, and negotiating a trip through his musical career.

For those unaware, Gross was an original member of Sha Na Na. That influence shows up on several cuts here. The boogie of “He Can’t Hol’ Still” and the doo-wop of “You Found Me Out” are treats. “Six O’Clock” is a ‘50s stomper that would make Little Richard proud. The ballad “If You Don’t Believe In Me” is the perfect opportunity for Gross to display his voice. It also features a metallic electric-guitar solo that is pure melodic heaven. Several cuts, like “It’s the Money” are horn-driven rock that would sound good on radio, if only pop stations had any sense. It also features some biting lead guitar from a guy who can really play, but never lets the guitar get in the way of a good song. “Sleeping My Way to the Top” is a hysterical, somewhat skewed look at the music business, opening with a quote from “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and wrapping with a perfect Stephen Stills imitation of the opening of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” In between is a guy trying, but not quite making it. And “What You Dream,” one of the highlights from I’m Hearing Things, makes an appearance at the end here, as well. Gross’ music is good, old-fashioned pop and rock-and-roll.

The Daily Post
Joe Brown Rolls Back the Years
by Andrew Judge

It was an emotional night as Joe Brown played the legendary Cavern Club -- on the same stage Paul McCartney did his Rocking into the Millennium gig in 1999. Joe loves touring and the more intimate the theatre the better. But even in huge stadia he will always connect.

Along with his band of Bruvvers, spiky-haired Joe went through 40 years of his material including his 60s hits. Lad-next-door enthusiasm never waned from the minute he took to the stage. Special mention must also go to support act Henry Gross -- an American singer-songwriter with a fine acoustic style. He has the lyrical and melodic power of Dean Friedman and James Taylor combined and this shone through on his own love-gone-wrong song It's Easy and You to Say.

Joe's guitar work was faultless throughout as was his technique on the tiny ukulele, now a firm high spot of his concerts. Joe also chatters with the audience as if he knows every one personally. On a Picture of You he made the famous hit song sound as fresh as ever.

Joe's lengthy tours are always well-structured affairs and yet this particular concert in a city that means a lot to him was extremely poignant. He paid tribute to Lonnie Donegan with a masterful skiffle tribute. Only last year Lonnie played the same stage with an audience every bit as responsive as Joe's wide-age group gathering. And then there was another moving sequence when he talked about the late, great George Harrison.

Vintage Guitar Magazine, July, 2001

John Heidt

Wow! That was my first reaction to this one. Gross, as some of you may remember was noted for one hit back in the 70's. That song - "Shannon" - was not exactly a barnburner, and apparently was about the death of his dog. I also remember Henry because it seemed like he opened every concert I went to in the Midwest in the middle part of that decade. Didn't matter who the headliners were, there was Henry opening.

So when I first listened to this CD and heard some great pop/rock (in fact, some of the best pop/rock I've heard in a while) I was pleasantly surprised. Influences aren't hard to spot. He obviously has an affinity for the Beatles and George Harrison's guitar sound. From the opener, "I'm Not Myself," with its crunchy rhythms and jangly 12-string fills, to the George-esque slide of "I've Got Love For You," he wears that influence on his sleeve. Other cuts bring to mind the late, great Harry Nilsson. The pop heaven of "Fixing Your Broken Heart" certainly would bring a smile to Harry.

Before you think this is just a guy sounding like his heroes, let me just say he brings a great feel and sound all his own to all the cuts here. And talk about hooks! In a just radio age, "Rosie's Garden" would be an instant hit. And the wah-ed opening and killer vocals and hook of "Mama, Who's Gonna Rock You" are the makings of instant classic rock.

Henry now makes his home in Nashville, and there are some definite nods to the capital of country music. "Lucky Me" is a great country tune with one of the best first lines you'll ever hear, "Waitress asks me if I'm famous, I say no…but I'm hungry." And the harmonized guitar parts and nice writing of "Since I've Been Loving You" has country written all over it.

Plain and simple, this is one of my favorite albums of any genre this year. Hopefully it will find a nice audience. Oh, by the way, the picture on the back of the CD has Henry surrounded by his guitars and amps. It's quite a scene.

Very impressive, deeply musical character. I say character because it's obvious to anyone who knows Hankus that he could have been a professional comedian, his delivery and timing are that good. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This is what I'd call classic American pop music of the first order. Superior melodies and songs, sublime guitars, and excellent vocals—every component stands firm in comparison to the music to which the album may be compared. The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Harry Nilsson all come to mind, but there are also strains of blues and even country that serve to stand this artist out as an original.

Henry is a true veteran of the music business. He was a founding member of the legendary R&R band Sha Na Na (and played Woodstock with them), and had a worldwide hit in the mid-seventies as a solo artist with the song "Shannon." While spending time with friend Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, he mentioned that he had an Irish Setter named Shannon. Carl said he'd had one too, by the same name, but that she'd been recently killed in a car accident. Some time later, Henry penned the huge success in a matter of minutes with his friend Carl in mind. For a better account of this story and a very interesting bio, check out henrygross.com. That's also the place to buy this record, which comes highly recommended as first class pop for adults.

Myriad attempts to follow in the footsteps of the classic aforementioned bands have been made by groups around the world, but mostly the shoes haven't fit the prints. Check out this music by a virtuoso pop musician who walked alongside some of these bands, and is still walking. Not retro, just ongoing.