Hank has been playing guitar since he bought his first Martin 0-18 (which he still has) in 1970. After a short stint at U of I, he left the world of academia to pursue a career in music. Founder (along with his brother Jeff) of the regionally acclaimed Helton Brothers Band which played all over the Midwest during the middle 1970’s, this band honed his skills as guitarist and vocalist in several styles, mostly concentrating on blues and rock and roll. After HBB’s demise, Hank started a funk band with brother Jeff in the very late 1970’s called Clique Darque, however this band only made one live performance happen due to the ever present danger of capricious musicians, one of whom vacated the premises just prior to this fateful performance. (Ladies and gentlemen, Dennis has left the state.)
Immediately after his wedding to his wife, Shelley in 1981, the two moved to Burbank CA where Hank studied at the world renowned Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. After taking a leave of absence to hit the road with a top 40 band, No Doubt About It, Hank returned to MI to finish his associate’s degree in applied performance for guitar. During the middle to late 80’s he played in a “lounge lizard” type band with no musical future, no musical vision and huge paychecks. This led to a short lived tenure with a band called Dutch Treat (named for its provenance composition, as three of its four musicians were of Dutch heritage) which he left prior to returning to Illinois with his family (now of four) in spring of 1988.
Hank continued to play in bands as a pickup guitar player, finally starting a six piece band in the late 1990’s called BluElla DeVille. At this time he met and became friends with Steve Emmons and Bob Wagner and in early 2001, the three formed Real Time, a Hammond organ based jazz trio that continues to play in the Springfield, IL area.
Hank joined an established Celtic band in 2005, then called Stone Ring Circle, which evolved into The Emerald Underground. TEU enjoyed regional success playing in pubs and bars throughout central IL and eventually played in Irish festivals around the Midwest. Hank left TEU in June of 2010 but the Celtic music bug had bitten him to the point of infection and he was forced by this fever to keep on the Celtic music track. He has recently established another group with Irish, Scottish, Welsh and other influences from the seven Celtic nations and this band is called Skibbereen. Beware.