by Dave Madeloni
I recently attended the second annual "Songwriter Slam" at the Iron Horse in Northampton Massachusetts, which featured a number of talented singer-songwriters in-the-round and featured a shape set by The Deb Talan Band. All four of these wonderful yet disparate shows had but one thing in common, Jim Henry. The singer-songwriter and virtuoso multi-instrumentalist was onstage providing tasty support as the musical glue that held the Kitchen Table together, as an accompanist to just about everyone at the Wonderland show, as Mark Erelli's sidekick and as Talan's guitarist.
It seemed whenever I went to see music over the holidays, there was the ubiquitous Henry, on acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, slide, backing vocals and even tambourine I think. I found myself watching him closely in his various roles, studying him as he calmly yet intensely hunched over his instruments, providing empathic, economical and downright delicious licks to whomever he shared the stage with. It was no wonder so many peers sought his services. The guy can flat out play, nothing flashy, just an uncanny ability to provide whatever was needed at any musical moment. There was not one note wasted, not one out of place. Seeing Henry perform so often in a supportive role, it is easy to forget that the Kansas native has four solid solo records to his credit, including 1999's "The Wayback" on Signature Sounds.