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Former Alaska resident has logged miles in music


Hailing originally from central Alaska, singer-songwriter Michael Henchman knows what it’s like to get stuck on the road on a bitter cold night.

One night his vehicle blew a heater hose between Anchorage and Fairbanks after a recording session. “It was late Sunday, no one on the road, and it was 38 degrees below zero,” Henchman says. “I was passing through Denali Park on a very cold January night. I was up a frozen creek, as they say. But fortunately another soul happened along who lived in the area. He towed my car to his shop, we fixed the hose, and I was soon on my way to Fairbanks. He had the true Alaskan spirit.” by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Michael Henchman will be sharing his songs with listeners at Park Place Coffee May 18.

That hardy spirit is something Henchman tries to bring to his acoustic Americana music, whether it’s found in the couch-surfing rambler of his song “Motel Dog,” an orphaned daughter trying to get past her mother’s death in “Into the Void” or a wandering wonderer in the autobiographical “40 miles from Midnight,” which is also the title of his soon-to-be-released CD.

“I have been playing music since I was in middle school, originally being drawn in by great pop and R&B songs on the radio,” Henchman says. “I learned guitar, piano and bass, joining jazz bands in high school and college as a bassist, which became my main instrument over the years.”

Having played in a number of rock, jazz and folk bands over the years, Henchman moved to Portland from Alaska four years ago, and has gained a name as a folk/Americana songwriter. He’ll share the stage with fellow songwriters Dan Dover, Avery Hill and Robert Owen at Park Place Coffee on Saturday, May 18.

Among the more notable acts Henchman has shared the stage with is Maria Muldaur, who sang the 1974 hit song “Midnight at the Oasis.”

He’s also worked with the percussionist from the Saturday Night Live band, Valerie Naranjo, during sessions of the Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks.

Henchman’s oh-so-slightly husky voice and steady delivery is the heart of his modern folk music, which he says he serves up with “a dash of longing, and a little road dust added for texture.”