Desert Cure

The Painted Desert • Travels With My Ant • Maya Descends • The Goddess Maya (Comes In A Broken Crate) • Why, Arizona • The Bunnyhop • Ballet Parking • Pail Face • Boolean Hunters • Phonear • Hey Pal, I Wear The Dress In This Family • Four Eyes Only • Wenzo • Tiny Lung Blues • Shaves From The Alive One • Is This Tomorrow?

The Goddess Maya
Hey Pal, I Wear the Dress in this Family

ALL RECORDINGS: Paydirt (2020)Quiet Industry (2015)Is This Tomorrow (2009)Joyous Porous (2002)Desert Cure (1998)Chasing Grace (1996)Puerto Angel (1994)The Yearly Ears (dig.comp.’94-98) • Coasting Notes (2011 by Three Metre Day)Atlas Travel (2003)

Desert Cure is the third CD by The 
Henrys, and features the (then) core 
band of Monte Horton, Michael Billard 
and the late David Trevis, with guest 
Michael White, John Sheard and of 
course vocalist extraordinaire Mary 
Margaret O’Hara.

The third disc from this mostly 
instrumental Toronto combo firmly 
establishes Don Rooke as one of 
acoustic guitar’s greatest unsung 
heroes. Playing lap-style slide on 
historic Weissenborn and Kona guitars, 
he alternately evokes the smooth 
perfection of Jerry Douglas, the languid 
soul of Ry Cooder, and the dreamtime 
whimsy of Bill Frisell. But such 
comparisons are mere reference points 
– Rooke is a startling original who 
seems constitutionally incapable of 
resorting to slide cliches. His tone is 
drop-dead gorgeous, his technique 
mirror-smooth, yet he has a 
mischievous chromatic streak that 
keeps things from getting too 
comfortable. The other musicians are 
formidable too, especially Monte 
Horton, whose keening electric work is 
a perfect counterweight for 
mellow-toned Rooke. Their rhythm 
section gravitates toward easy, 
Caribbean-flavoured grooves, but they, 
too, spike the punch with piquant 
dissonance – is there such a thing as 
“tropical noir”? Fretwork of the first 
order, well worth seeking out.

-Guitar Player, review by Joe Gore, 
November 1998

Don Rooke’s work on various slide 
guitars, from the kona to the lap steel to 
something called a Sonar Zombie, 
recalls the erudite ramblings of Bill 
Frisell. This ensemble (which 
sometimes includes the vocalist Mary 
Margaret O’Hara) surrounds his playing 
with sunset tones.

-New York Times ‘Treats for 
Off-the-Menu Tastes’, review by Ann 
Powers, January 14, 1999


It’s hard to imagine The Henrys in a 
rush to do much of anything, and that’s 
a good thing. Over three records, the 
group’s learned to put that pace, or lack 
of it, to good use, letting the songs 
unfold gradually without ever losing the 
plot or getting sleepy. As the title 
suggests, the local quartet’s third disc 
finds the group supplanting the 
Hawaiian ambience of 1996’s Chasing 
Grace sessions with an even more 
understated Dust Bowl feel. Organ, 
trumpet and softly blown conch shell 
are added to the diaphanous 
arrangements, and Mary Margaret 
O’Hara returns…but the real focus 
remains Don Rooke’s slide guitars 
(Kona, Weissenborn, dobro and lap 
steel) weaving in and out of the languid 
soundscapes and hinting at pop 
melodies without ever becoming that 

-NOW Magazine, review by Matt 
Galloway, September 1998

Neither world, blues, country, reggae, 
new age or rock, but with a healthy dose 
of each of these categories and 
more…You have a sonic landscape that 
may take its energy and influence from 
one source, but turns it into something 
new and unique each time. There are 
sound snippets, slow tunes, funky 
tunes, menacing tunes. Wonderful!”

– Folk Roots, U.K., review by Ian 
Kearey, October 1998


Rooke ha uno stile personale, suona in 
modo pulito ma crea dei fraseggi 
diversificati, cercando sempre 
risoluzioni nuove per la sua musica, 
lasciando da parte le ovvieta per 
esibirsi in uno stile oltremodo 
particolare. Un musicista fuori dalle 
convenzioni ed una band che, di 
conseguenza, suona in modo 
‘diverso’…. Chiusura impegnativa per un 
disco di non facile approccio ma di 
indubbia bellezza. La musica e anche 
impegno e Don Rooke lo sa benissimo. 
Da ascoltare: perfetto per la serate 
invernali che si stanno appropinquando.

-Buscadero Magazine, Italy, review by 
Paolo Caru, November 1998


Oh, baby, every once in a while you run 
into something really special. These two 
blessed discs by this apparently alien 
outfit from Toronto defy, decry, and 
refry description.

Our story begins with the irrefutable 
genius of leader and slide player Don 
Rooke. Mostly he plays an antique slide 
guitar called a Kona. He calls it “…a rare 
acoustic instrument with unique tonal 
purity. Konas were manufactured out of 
Hawaiian koa wood in the 1920’s. It is 
played slide style, flat, with a small steel 
bar.” In this case, when you’re Don 
Rooke, it is played with sheer genius. 
He is the musical equal of slide masters 
Ry Cooder and David Lindley, as well 
as the phenomenal Dave Tronzo and 
Indian wonder V.M. Bhatt. His haunting 
compositions leave few genres 
untapped, combined and turned out like 
reversible flowers.

Along with the Kona, Don also uses a 
Weissenborn, National Tricone, and 
Hawaiian King guitars, and cuts the 
occasional acoustic track. The fretting 
guitarist is the graceful, the eloquent 
Monte Horton, a superb and very 
original player, first rate ensemblist. 
Producer John Sheard contibutes 
masterfully and essentially on 
keyboards, standing out memorably in 
select moments when called upon. 
David Trevis on bass and Michael 
Billard on drums are an inspired, 
flawless rhythm section, a composer’s 
dream. Michael White plays beautiful 
trumpet and conch shell, sparingly 
used. Special guest Mary Margaret 
O’Hara on vocals, she’s simply 
amazing. Microtonal, sings in tongues, 
oblique and omnipresent, looming in the 
studio corners. Truly rare.
These landmark records of (mostly) 
instrumental genius cannot be found in 
stores, but can be purchased from the 
artist Don Rooke at their website. I am 
hard pressed to find words adequate to 
their level of artistry, but am conversely 
pleased to be able to offer our readers 
a chance to listen instead, to tracks 
jazzmospheric and sometimes lethally 
funky, sample a couple from each 
record on the listen page. Incredible 
acts unknown, thugs rule. What a world., review by Frank