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Phil Henry Trio plays Lincoln

LINCOLN — With his newest release, respected singer-songwriter Phil Henry brings to the stage the texture and nuance usually only found in lush studio recordings. The Phil Henry Acoustic Trio — or PHAT, as they’re known by their fans — takes Henry’s award-winning material up a notch, with arrangements that showcase their collective skills, while maintaining the integrity of the songs. Amplified by the talents of percussionist Gary Moon and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Kimball, the trio’s performing synergy has recently been captured on a live album called “PHAT LIVE.”
Henry is the breath of fresh air needed to keep a modern folk music scene alive. Rather than penning songs of exploitation, self-confession or heart ache, Henry harks from a tradition of musicians as story-tellers. His knack for creating lifelike characters, vivid scenes and distinctive places has been described as “cinematic.”
And he’s also not afraid to write folk that rocks. The addition of Moon on hand percussion and Kimball, who plays a half dozen instruments including mandolin, piano, and accordion, ably fill out Henry’s “soundtrack.”
The trio has been playing together for about 10 years, but go back further as collaborators and friends. Neither Moon nor Kimball is a stranger to narrative music. Moon is a staple of the Saratoga Springs, N.Y. folk scene with his duo, Stories Told, while Kimball’s music direction has earned him accolades in the theater scene of Boston. They accompany Henry in a way that energizes and colors the songs, adding to the imagery being painted. Both Kimball and Moon also sing, allowing for intricate three-part harmonies.
Listening to “PHAT LIVE,” it’s easy to forget that there are only three musicians on stage. Together the trio create a dynamic sound, working together to lead the audience on a musical journey. The recording quality is so good that it’s easy to forget it’s a live recording — until lightning strikes the building.
No, really.
A storyteller like Henry should know better than to tempt fate. But on the night of August 13, 2016, Henry was performing a live show, when the rumblings of thunder outside echoed through the hall. In introducing the next song, a song about a post Katrina radio deejay, Henry and Moon joke about the weather. Three quarters of the way through the number, a startling loud electric crack interrupts everything. Amazingly the show went on and they did not lose the recording. 
Who knows what’ll happen when the Phil Henry Acoustic Trio comes to perform for the Burnham Music Series at Burnham Hall, 52 River Rd. in Lincoln, on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the show are $10 for adults, teens and kids are free. Refreshments will be served during intermission. For more information, call (802) 388-6863.

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