Born in 1943 and grew up in the Bronx. We were all music crazy in the 60’s, from Django Reinhart to Doc Watson and Charlie Byrd to Blind Lemon Jefferson. I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker on Nat Hentoff’s radio show-an experience that changed my life. Artie Traum and Larry Sandberg showed me the rudiments of finger picking.
Brownie McGee and Reverend Gary Davis were teaching guitar in Harlem but I was too shy to go, so I listened to lots of L.P’s of the old guys on my parents Grundig Majestic Hi-Fi and tried to teach myself their styles --which I am still doing 50 years later! Still trying to figure out that Snooks Eaglin run--how he got that tone--oh well!
Had a blues band out of Cambridge, Mass. in the seventies-played the clubs and opened for guys like Hound Dog Taylor at Joe’s Place in Inman Square.
Tried playing with a flat-pick, but dropped it enough times in the middle of a set to know it wasn’t for me.
I’m finger-style all the way…thumb keeps the rhythm… first two fingers and sometimes third play the melody… thumb first finger up and down for fast runs-used to use metal fingerpicks… now I like the plastic ones.
I have had a pretty crazy life in the midst of which I sometimes miss playing for an audience-so I play the clubs now and then…lately in Marin County, California.
Recorded “Dreamin' the Blues” which my brother Andy produced in 2000. My guitar was an old Sigma that I paid $100.00 for. Now I have a few better guitars and a bunch of new tunes so maybe we’ll do another CD soon. Stay tuned!
In addition to being technically brilliant, Henry’s playing shows the depth of his understanding of and love for the blues, as well as a sense of humor blues aficionados will appreciate. At the same time, his performances are accessible to the “uninitiated”. This combination is likely to draw in and win new fans not only for Henry, but also for the wonderfully rich heritage that is the blues. --Swift River Music
For over forty years now, Henry May has been one of my all-time favorite guitarists. Henry's music is always evolving: each piece changes from one performance to the next. We cut the music live and present it here as Henry played it: unedited, with no overdubbing. -- Andy May, producer