24 March 2017
Matt Nakoa / Kirsten Maxwell
On Friday, March 24 we welcome Matt Nakoa and Kirsten Maxwell, two up and coming singer-songwriters, to our stage. Matt Nakoa is an internationally touring artist, recently appearing at the White House, throughout India, and regularly with folk icon, Tom Rush. Kirsten Maxwell hails from Long Island and recently won the competitive “Most Wanted Emerging Artist” at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
Concert starts at 8:00 pm.
Growing up on a small goat farm in rural New York state, Matt Nakoa discovered music as a means of teenager escape and trained to be a concert pianist. Matt was ultimately accepted as a vocalist to Berklee College of Music where he studied alongside soon-to-be Grammy winners St. Vincent and Esperannza Spalding among others. After school, Matt landed in NYC’s vibrant piano bar scene. There he quickly became a star performer at Manhattan’s famous Brandy’s Piano Bar with lines waiting outside the door each Saturday night.
As if illustrating sides of himself, Matt’s first alum, Light in the Dark (2012), is a sweeping pop opus, while A Dozen Other Loves (2014) explores an intimate acoustic palette. Across the board his songcraft has garnered awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festival’s prestigious New Folk Competition. Though not easily pinned down, as a recent review on the CoverLayDown.com put it, “Matt Nakoa is one of those well kept secrets you just can’t help but celebrate: intimate and genuine, soulful and bittersweet, a rich poetic songbook sung in praise to a complicated, emotionally present world.” The Boston Globe raves about Nakoa: On guitar, a Jack Johnson-esque singer-songwriter . . . between his piano chops, charismatic stage presence, and heartfelt originals on guitar . . . he drops jaws.”
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Based on Long Island, Kirsten Maxwell has made great strides since diving head first into her career. She is often compared to Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, for her soaring vocals and retro-folk style. Kirsten gives everything to her live performances and has been described as “making love to the audience”. Although her self-taught guitar chops are minimal, she plays with such delicacy and taste that the guitar seems to be extension of her body. Her delivery creates a level of intimacy that welcomes new audiences in like old friends. With a quick wit and commanding stage presence, Kirsten gives the impression of being more accomplished than her 24 years.
In April 2015, Kirsten independently released her debut album, Crimson. This album was met with great success and fans who generously donated to her Kickstarter campaign are awaiting her highly anticipated EP, to be released in 2017. Artie Martello from Mostly Folk podcast has this to say about Kirsten: “Her exceptional vocal range, lilting melodies and heartfelt performance is the perfect match for her songs. ‘Crimson’ will take you on a journey through familiar moments in life and have you nodding your head in agreement. The best part is that this is only the beginning.” Nakoa and Maxwell will perform solo and in tandem in this show.
- Nakoa does not disappoint. Actually, between his piano chops, charismatic stage presence, and heartfelt originals on guitar…he drops jaws. Boston Globe
- All I can say is wow! Phenomenal high tenor voice, outstanding musicianship and songs that grab the heart. He also knows how to work the audience. I predict Matt is going places. Rich Warren, WFMT Chicago
- Matt is definitely on his way up. I’m hoping he’ll let me open for him when he’s doing stadiums. Tom Rush
- Matt Nakoa manipulates the piano as though it were an extension of himself. There’s a phrase in acting course about “not pushing” when you’re on stage, in order to make the audience lean forward in their seats as opposed to sitting back. That’s what Matt does. Black Box Arts Blog
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- . . . Kirsten Maxwell’s clear soprano rings out in a way that would make Judy Collins and Joan Baez approve. She backs that up with skillful guitar playing and a growing collection of well-crafted songs. It’s exciting to imagine what the future holds for her. John Platt, “Sunday Supper” WFUV
- It was love at first listen! Not just Kirsten’s gorgeous voice but her well crafted songs about the intricacies of love and relationships. “Crimson” is a must listen. Joltin Joe, Radio Nowhere On WMSC
- Her exceptional vocal range, lilting melodies and heartfelt performance is the perfect match for her songs. “Crimson” will take you on a journey through familiar moments in life and have you nodding your head in agreement. The best part is that this is only the beginning. Artie Martello, Mostly Folk Podcast, Halcottsville, NY