There’s an old saying that goes, “the family that prays together stays together,” but Fuse Henry and his family have put a unique spin on that concept. They’ve adopted the adage “the family that plays together stays together,” as the five-member clan have formed an ace rock band called The Rockin’ Henrys that is fast becoming a real-life, modern-day version of The Partridge Family.
With Fuse on guitar and vocals, his wife, DeeDee, on upright bass, autoharp and vocals, 19-year-old daughter Kylah on drums, guitar and vocals, 18-year-old daughter Kieren on guitar and vocals and 10-year-old Oz (aka “Short Fuse”) on lead vocals and upright bass, the band has quickly made a splash on the Ventura County music scene. They won Breakthrough Artist at the 2018 Ventura County Music Awards and are nominated this year in the VCMA’s Best Song category.
After a successful performance at the Ventura County Fair earlier this month, the Henrys are looking forward to performing at the Harbor Cove in Ventura on Saturday night and at the Ventura Nationals on Aug. 31. The rockabilly festival is of great interest to Oz in particular, because one of his favorite actors is also on the lineup.
“The Nationals are a huge rockabilly event that mixes a huge car show with bands, and my son can’t wait to say he played the same stage as Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants,” says Fuse. “That’s one of the reasons I took the show. We also play Harbor Cove in Ventura a lot and the Flying Flags campground and resort in Buellton, right across from Pea Soup Anderson’s. By the end of August, we’ll have played there 11 times this summer.”
Music as legacy
The Henrys played an even bigger event last summer, when they were on the giant Viva Las Vegas festival and opened for shows by Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, two of the three members of the legendary Stray Cats. Just as Oz is looking forward to his seeing his idol Kenny at the end of the month, playing on the same bill as the Cats was a dream come true for Fuse.
Aside from the fun and excitement involved in playing major rockabilly events, the family patriarch saw that forming a band and teaching his wife and kids how to play instruments would be an invaluable legacy.
“I’ve been doing music my entire life, professionally and semi-professionally,” he says. “I always had a lot of instruments all over the house. I don’t have much money to leave them legacy-wise, so I thought, why not teach them to play? They can have fun, make money, travel.
“That was less than a year and a half ago. I asked if they wanted a family band, and I said, ‘I’ll teach all of you how to play 10 songs.’ Everyone took to it like fish to water. Before you know it, in a few months we had a good set of music and have booked almost every month for a year and a half, sometimes more.”
Keeping it fun . . . and fair
Now that the Ventura-based computer programmer has taught his family how to play a mix of 40 covers and original tunes, with Oz leading the band with a precocious pompadour and duck tail hairdo, the Rockin’ Henrys enjoy performing regularly. They are booked three nights a week in clubs, performing three-hour sets that include songs by legends including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly in addition to some vintage Hank Williams tunes.
“I’ve always made sure from day one that practices, rehearsals, anything we play together is supposed to be fun,” says Fuse Henry. “When we get together, it’s fun and no one gets tired. I want them to have good memories in the future, but I also pay them all. If I make 50 bucks, my son makes 50 bucks. I split all the tips and fees equally.”
The Rockin’ Henrys perform on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 5 p.m. at the Harbor Cove Café, 1867 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura. For more information on the band, visit www.facebook.com/therockinhenrys.