Art Maker: Jim Henry, musician

  • Jim Henry has been a go-to player for years for a wide variety of musicians who want to add dobro, guitar, mandolin (and harmony vocals) to their albums and concerts. Photo by Julian Parker-Burns

  • Got my eye on you: Jim Henry has been a go-to guy for years for a wide variety of musicians who want to add dobro, guitar, mandolin (and harmony vocals) to their albums and concerts. Photo by Julian Parker-Burns

  • Have instruments, will travel: Jim Henry has been a go-to guy for years for a wide variety of musicians who want to add dobro, guitar, mandolin (and harmony vocals) to their albums and concerts. Photo ulian Parker-Burns t

  • Multi-instrumentalist Jim Henry of Shutesbury has also published a book, "50 Pro Tips for Musicians: Practical advice for an Impractical Business,” in which he shares his years of experience of performing and recording music. Photo by Julian Parker-Burns 

Published: 6/6/2019 12:48:08 PM
Modified: 6/6/2019 12:47:58 PM

Jim Henry is pretty good at multitasking — and a lot of musicians are grateful. The Shutesbury guitarist, who’s also adept on dobro and mandolin, has been a busy sideman for years with scores of players — Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tracy Grammer, Gillian Welch, Shawn Colvin and many others — both live and in the studio. He’s also a songwriter and a fine singer.

“Typically I have several projects going at any given moment,” says Henry, who in recent months has been producing and recording albums, and recording tracks, for singer-songwriters from places as far-flung as Idaho, British Columbia and California. He seems to have no weaknesses — though kryptonite can sometimes come in the form of a late-night bag of snack food. 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Jim Henry: Right now I’m hosting and producing a podcast called "Pro Tips for Musicians" with a new episode every month. I've also just published a book, "50 Pro Tips for Musicians: Practical advice for an Impractical Business," which I'm trying to promote. I've got some short tours with songwriter Eliza Gilkyson this spring and summer, and I’m playing locally and regionally with lots of different artists.

Plus my yard is a mess after this winter. My main goal is to get it cleaned up before fall. 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

JH:  I'm a sucker for a great song. The ability to sum up a person or a situation or a feeling in a couple of words blows my mind. Colter Wall, a young Saskatchewan songwriter, is the latest guy to drop my jaw. He's like Tom Waits and Johnny Cash rolled into one.

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

JH:That’s a tough one to answer when it comes to recording. Being a Capricorn, I'm pretty good about finishing projects, though sometimes it's hard to let them go. Because music (all art, really) is so subjective, it's easy to tweak endlessly until it's “right.” Using a producer, an objective listener who you trust, can end up saving you from yourself.

HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

JH:  My daughter Ruby brought me to see the folk group Lula Wiles a few months ago. I was floored by their musicality. Great singing, playing, arrangements, the whole package. It filled my heart to hear young people playing nuanced and intelligent music that was also fun.

HL: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be?

JH: I think it'd be fun to be an electrician. I've done some small projects around my house, including hard-wiring a generator, installing ceiling fans, adding outlets, and making my own Ethernet cables. It requires careful thought and attention, which actually helps me relax.

HL: What's your go-to snack while you're working?

JH: I don't really snack during the day. However, when I'm at my desk at night, I'll eat anything salty and crunchy. It's actually a bit of a problem because I will eat the whole bag of whatever it is.

HL: Do you listen to music while you're working? What kind?

JH: I almost never listen to music while at my desk. I find it distracting because I can't not listen — I can't tune it out. That's probably what makes me a good side player: I listen very closely to what's being played.

— Steve Pfarrer 

Jim Henry’s website is jimhenry.net.

 

 

 

  




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