In Memoriam: Hennyfest Celebrates All-Too-Brief Life Of Local Legend

Carl Petersen
2 min read
Michael Henningsen circa Bad Touch Uncle (Fran Hopper)
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When Michael Henningsen sat down with three or four chicken fried steaks piled like pancakes and doused with brown gravy, he salted them liberally prior to tasting and without a passing thought toward the mashed potatoes. That’s not how he died; that’s how he lived—in the olden days, at least. And his nearly pathological aversion to foods with creamy fillings belied a curious preference for pizza with "extra sauce." A paradox, if you will. He was a talented mimic who would spin pirate-voiced tales about "Carmen down at the bank," belt out uncanny renditions of radio jingles ("Come on and get a great buy!") and absently ask the receptionist why she dressed like a hooker. His tongue was sharp, his mind was sharper, and he left the impression it was all as effortless for him as the near-perfect copy he spewed out on demand as a writer. As a bandmate he never bickered because he loved music and, man, the guy just wanted to play. So it’s not surprising that the world’s funniest, most talented man also hid some dark little clouds inside. He was loved and admired by everyone except, often, himself. Again, that’s not how he died; that’s how he lived. He was a weirdo, and that’s what made him so magnificent.

On Thursday, June 19, the Pavilion stage at Expo New Mexico will host Hennyfest from 6 to 9pm. It’s a chance for us to gather collectively in celebration of Henny’s life and amaze at how deeply and poignantly his long fingers of influence probed into our community. Don’t be mad: Henny would have liked that sentence. There will be food and coffee available, as well as performances by a few of the many musicians he affected, including: Black Maria, Chris Dracup, Kimo, Sam Obenshain, The Replicators, Young Edward, Blake Harper and (cough) the Ant Farmers. Purchase of memorial t-shirts and posters will benefit the Michael Henningsen Scholarship Fund, as will donations mailed to Henny’s wife Danette Townsend (PO Box 633, Cedar Crest, NM 87008). From Central, drive north on San Pedro until you see sad people.

Hennyfest: A Celebration of the Life of Michael Henningsen, 1967-2014

with Black Maria, Chris Dracup, Kimo, Sam Obenshain, The Replicators, Young Edward, Blake Harper and the Ant Farmers

Thursday, June 19

6-9pm, FREE

Expo New Mexico

300 San Pedro NE

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