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."