Cover Lay Down is proud to present Unity House Concerts, a folk-and-more music series hosted by yours truly and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield. Concerts are held in our wooded sanctuary, and feature a combination of well-beloved musicians and new folk voices committed to the UU Coffeehouse tradition of channeling the spirit of community through song.
Our 2015-2016 series features a diverse set of artists, including past shows with The Sea The Sea (September) and Mary Lou Lord (October), upcoming shows with Mike + Ruthy (December) and Joe Jencks (March), and our next offering, on November 21st, with young singer-songwriter Matt Nakoa, a Berklee-trained artist with a soaring, soulful folkpop voice sure to leave you breathless.
Discovering Matt Nakoa is like discovering air. A stunningly talented musician eminently comfortable in his skin, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter is so engaging in live performance that we stopped him the moment he walked off the Lounge Stage at this summer’s Falcon Ridge Folk Fest to ask him to play our concert series – and subsequently went on to catch him six more times during the same weekend.
What’s the big deal here? For starters, Nakoa rocks, sometimes quite literally. His vocal turn on an impromptu Led Zeppelin set this summer alongside psychedelic folkrock wizards The Grand Slambovians, shared in last week’s omnibus (Re)Covered feature, rivaled the original. And, as you’ll see and hear below, his work with The Brit Pack – “the most epic semi-fictitious brit-rock cover band ever” – is searing, and the covers of Radiohead and Roxanne that he has recorded with them are spot on interpretations, transcending the facility and force of their adaptation.
But don’t let his willingness to tread the harder edge fool you. Nakoa’s trio work with fellow folk travelers Brad Cole and Robinson Treacher is catchy and percussive, bright and sunny enough to get a crowd on its feet. And, as seen in the several tender in-studio covers below from Fox Run Studios, Matt Nakoa’s got an ear for high harmony that is truly out of this world.
In sum, Matt Nakoa is a musical adept, one of those well kept secrets you just can’t help but celebrate: intimate and genuine, one of those rare performers who can simultaneously bare his soul and welcome you inside. His growing songbook is rich with metaphor and poetry, sung in praise to a complicated, emotionally present world that envelops the listener, even as his coverage runs towards the beautiful and the lighthearted. The result – on keys or guitar, in acoustic mode or full production – is an emergent body of work that is sweet and soulful, playful yet wise, with a mature depth of observational lyric and an incredible emotional range that runs from soaring to bittersweet.
Nakoa has performed in the White House and India, and is currently opening for Tom Rush on tour; we’re lucky, indeed, to have found and booked him before he gets too big for the coffeehouse circuit. Check out the videos below, dig deep into his albums at his website, then catch Matt Nakoa at a venue near you.
Matt Nakoa: Tainted Love (orig. Soft Cell)
Matt Nakoa, Jared Salvatore, and Eric Schwartz: Dancing In The Dark (orig. Bruce Springsteen)
Matt Nakoa and Eric Schwartz: I’m Only Sleeping (orig. The Beatles)
Matt Nakoa: Arise, Arise (orig. Jean Rohe)
Matt Nakoa and The Brit Pack: Roxanne (orig. The Police)
Matt Nakoa and The Brit Pack: Just (orig. Radiohead)
Matt Nakoa: Moondance/Fever (orig. Van Morrison/Peggy Lee)
Non-profit and ad-free since 2007, Cover Lay Down posts regular features on artists and songwriters as part of its continuing mission to ply the experience of coverage as a comfortable space for discovery. As always, we encourage you to follow the links above to hear more from and about the artists we feature, the better to support and sustain the arts, the artists, and the folkways.
And, if you live within driving distance of Springfield, Massachusetts – just a hop, skip, and jump away from Hartford, Northampton, Worcester and the Berkshires – join us November 21 for a very special evening with Matt Nakoa…and then book now for our December 4 show with Americana roots duo Mike + Ruthy, who we previously hosted in our intimate carriage house concert series back in the Spring of 2013. No reservations necessary; Facebook confirmations greatly appreciated.