Jonathan Byrd & Chris Kokesh
"Jonathan Byrd doesn't sing songs;
he sings truth."
- performingsongwriter.com -
"Jonathan's delightful, substantive songs are rich with imagery and textures of influences from Appalachian, country, early American balladry, modern atmospheric Mideastern, urban and old timey folk music. A stalwart of modern folk music, Jonathan is constantly evolving in new musical directions and each incarnation has proven to be masterful. Like a gourmet chef, Jonathan does not create the same dish twice, so we're not sure what he will bring to the table tonight. But if music were a meal, Jonathan would prepare us a banquet. Catch this Kerrville New Folk winner as often as you can; you'll never get 'full', your appetite will only grow."
-Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse, Dallas, TX
Folk legend Tom Paxton discovered Jonathan Byrd's music and sent him a quick email, saying, "What a treat to hear someone so deeply rooted in tradition, yet growing in his own beautiful way." He had just released "Wildflowers," in late 2001, simple tales of love and death that seemed to be a hundred years old or more. In 2003 Byrd released his second album, "The Waitress" and won the prestigious New Folk competition in Kerrville, TX. That year, he set CD sales records at the festival.
For his third album, Jonathan approached his friends, the critically acclaimed world-music duo known as Dromedary, often featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. "The Sea and The Sky" is the result, a vast, poetic suite of music that weds world sounds to deeply rooted folk balladry.
A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Jonathan grew up singing in the Southern Baptist church, where his father preached and his mother played piano. After four years in the Navy, he returned to Chapel Hill to play in rock bands in that legendary underground music scene. A friend of Jonathan's invited him to an old-time fiddle festival in the mountains of southwest Virginia, where his writing began to change. Assimilating the sounds of southern traditional music, Byrd wrote new songs in an ancient style.
One of those first songs was "Velma," a murder ballad based on the true story of Velma Barfield, the last woman to be executed in North Carolina (in 1984) and the murderer of Jonathan's own grandfather. This was the track that prompted Tom Paxton to respond so eloquently to Byrd's music.
As Jonathan grows into a contemporary artist of increasing influence, his traditional roots are always evident in his simple, poetic storytelling and classic flatpick guitar style. But, as quoted in a recent interview for Dirty Linen magazine, Jonathan says, "Everything I do is a departure from what I've done." "The Sea and the Sky" is certainly evidence of that. Keep an ear out for an upcoming electric album, sure to take us further out on a limb without forgetting our roots.
"I thought I was listening to a young
- Jay Moulon, Southeast Performer Magazine -
With the inception of the band Misty River in 1997, Chris Kokesh became a distinctive voice on the Northwest music scene. With the 2010 release of her solo CD October Valentine her stunning songwriting, crystalline vocals, tasty fiddle and solid guitar have distinguished her as a stand-alone talent.
Veteran of stages including the Strawberry Music Festival (CA), the Walnut Valley Festival (KS), Sisters Folk Festival (OR), and Wintergrass (WA), Kokesh helped create Northwest favorite Misty River's signature vocal blend and modern folk style. After 12 years of touring, Kokesh set out to find her own voice. The challenge was to put her own sense of style and musicianship up front and take her audience on a new journey.
She was up to the challenge: onstage Kokesh brings songs to life with a transparency that draws audiences in. She reveals the inner workings of her heart with grace and humor. She is real.
"I write songs about real people, and my audiences see themselves there. There are plenty of people who are louder and showier than I am. My strength is in my emotional connection with the song and the music. I believe in the stories I tell, and that comes through."
In 2010 Kokesh released October Valentine. In honest and intimate performances, these songs of love lost, bad timing, resolve and perseverance weave sadness and hopefulness into the exquisitely bittersweet. Acoustic instruments including the beautiful guitar work of Dale Adkins frame Kokesh's eloquent vocals.
Jeff Douglas, of Oregon Public Broadcasting says, "When a song really works it's hard to imagine those words with any other music, like they always went together and the writer just discovered them. Chris Kokesh is writing songs like that."
Folk are taking notice. In July 2010, October Valentine debuted on the Folk DJ charts at #20. That same month Kokesh received an honorable mention from the Woody Guthrie Song Contest. In the past year, Kokesh has played at the Sisters Folk Festival (OR) and taught at the associated Americana Song Academy, toured the Northwest solo as well as with Jonathan Byrd, Beth Wood and Lincoln Crockett, and accompanied such artists as Johnsmith, Martyn Joseph, Peter Mulvey, Po' Girl, Ellis, Keith Greeninger, and Tom Prasada-Rao.
What is next? "I hope to continue to expand my touring range. This spring Jonathan Byrd and I recorded a duets album, so we will release that soon. And I am writing more than ever; I've got a bunch of songs for my next CD," Kokesh says. "It's exciting to be reaching people with my music."
6922 Preston Fall City Rd
Issaquah, WA 98027