Chris Kokesh

Chris Kokesh

 Portland, Oregon, USA
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Chris Kokesh is a songwriter, singer, fiddler and guitarist with a great voice, a natural musicality and an unexpectedly wry wit. Her songs blend elements of American music including folk, bluegrass and country into a style she calls "Urban Folk with Rural Roots."

Biography

CHRIS KOKESH is no newcomer to the folk music scene. In her 14 years with the all-woman quartet Misty River, she became a veteran of stages including the Strawberry Music Festival (CA), the Walnut Valley Festival (KS), Sisters Folk Festival (OR), and Wintergrass (WA) and helped create the signature vocal blend of this Northwest favorite.

With the 2010 release of her solo CD October Valentine, her stunning songwriting, crystalline vocals, tasty fiddle and solid guitar distinguish her as a stand-alone talent. SING OUT! said, “With October Valentine, Chris Kokesh…emerges as a mature acoustic-based singer songwriter.” In honest and intimate performances, these songs of love lost, bad timing, resolve and perseverance weave sadness and hopefulness into the exquisitely bittersweet.

In July 2010, October Valentine debuted on the Folk DJ charts at #20. 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."

Onstage Kokesh brings songs to life with a transparency that draws audiences in. She reveals the inner workings of her heart with grace and an unexpectedly wry sense of humor. In the past year, Kokesh played at the Sisters Folk Festival (OR) and taught at the associated Americana Song Academy, and was awarded a Formal Showcase at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference.

Kokesh is not only earning a reputation as an engaging performing songwriter, but also as a versatile side-person. Versed in bluegrass, country, old-time and folk traditions, her fiddle playing and harmonies have been heard multiple times on the stages of the Kerrville Folk Festival (TX) and the Sisters Folk Festival (OR) as well as on tours around the country with Jonathan Byrd and LJ Booth.

What is next? Kokesh is looking to expand her touring range. She and Jonathan Byrd have recorded an album of duets, which will be released in the near future. For now, she is writing and planning for her next solo CD. For this acoustic music veteran, the future is bright.

"One of the new generation of folk storytellers.” -Southeast Examiner, Portland OR

"She sounds a little like Lucy Kaplansky..., a little like Kris Delmhorst..., a little like Tracy Grammer and a lot like success on the Americana circuit." -Eugene Weekly, Eugene, OR

"Whether she's with Misty River or on her own, Chris Kokesh is writing songs that stand up with the best. Keep an ear out for this emerging talent." -Jeff Douglas, Oregon ArtBeat, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lyrics

Lucy

Written By: Chris Kokesh

Lucy
Music and lyrics by Chris Kokesh ©2009

Most of the time lately
I am not myself
Sometimes I’m just so tired
Sometimes I feel like hell

We made it through the winter
It’s starting to turn spring
But the cancer just keeps growing
And killing everything

My son’s just turning 15
He already toes the line
He’s so much like his father
I know that he’ll be fine

Lucy is 2 years younger
But she smells like cigarettes
She still needs her mama
But she doesn’t know it yet

CHORUS:
Lucy, Lucy
There’ll be joy and there’ll be pain
Lucy, you have no idea
What the world can throw your way
From the moment you could crawl
You thought you’d seen it all
Little flame that burns so bright
Lucy, Lucy
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight

Lucy do you remember
When your mama’s gentle hand
Woke you in the dark
And flew you off to Disneyland

Now I never see you smiling
As you creep around this house
But I know you keep a hotel soap
In the shape of Mickey Mouse

Lucy, I remember
When you found that baby bird
You were so mad at its mama
‘Cause she never returned

But Lucy it’s a world of
Plans that fall apart
And you must be a brave girl
And not let it break your heart

CHORUS:
Lucy, Lucy
There’ll be joy and there’ll be pain
Lucy, you have no idea
What the world can throw your way
From the moment you could crawl
You thought you’d seen it all
You are a flame that burns so bright
Lucy, Lucy
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight

Risk My heart

Written By: Chris Kokesh

Risk My Heart
Music and lyrics by Chris Kokesh © 2008

Today I was walking down the street
And sitting on a corner there at my feet
I found my heart. It was neglected and alone
I picked it up and brushed it off and carried it home

I knew it had been wandering, but it was so strange
To see it out there on its own begging for change
Begging for someone to look its way
Tailing anyone who’d give it the time of day

CHORUS
I’m not going to risk my heart anymore
Or let it out with any stray scratching at my door
I don’t know what it’s looking for
I’m not going to risk my heart any more

There’ll be no more sneaking out of windows
Even though it will cause a fight
Now it has an early curfew, no more late nights
No more going out with strangers from the wrong side of town
I know what can happen just hanging around

I lie awake and wonder if it will ever settle down
But it doesn’t seem to like the guys I bring around
The nice ones with good jobs who wear corduroy and suede
I don’t want my heart to make the same mistakes that I made

CHORUS
I’m not going to risk my heart anymore
Or let it out with any stray scratching at my door
I don’t know what it’s looking for
I’m not going to risk my heart any more

BRIDGE
Even though I try to keep it under lock and key
Sometimes my heart breaks free
I’m up all night watching the clock and wondering
How my heart turned out so much like me

CHORUS
I’m not going to risk my heart anymore
Or let it out with any stray scratching at my door
I don’t know what it’s looking for
I’m not going to risk my heart any more

Finding the Edge

Written By: Chris Kokesh

Finding the Edge
Music and lyrics by Chris Kokesh ©2009

When your shoes are worn, your nails are dirty
And your skin is worn thin
You’re not sure it is strong enough
To hold it all in
When the earth is falling away all around you
And left you out on a ledge
Look around, I’m standing there beside you
While you’re finding the edge

When your fire is down to smoke and ashes
You are brittle and dry
Your arms are tired and aching
From holding up the sky
When you feel like everyone has broken
Every promise and pledge
I will echo every word you’ve spoken
While you’re finding the edge

Some people would rather be standing back a few feet
The view’s not worth the vertigo
Yes, the edge is steep
But if you are brave you can see
Above you and below you
And all the ways that you can break through
And all the ones who really love you

When your heart that’s planted on your shirt-sleeve
Is showing signs of wear
If it’s scratched and bruised and looking ragged
Perhaps beyond repair
When you’re paying for every chance you’ve taken
And every bet you didn’t hedge
Just remember you are not forsaken
While you’re finding the edge
Just remember you are not forsaken
While you’re finding the edge

Hell of a Year

Written By: Chris Kokesh

It’s been a hell of a year
And I don’t want to be saved
I’m getting used to it here
And I don’t have to be brave
It’s been a hell of a ride
And I’ve got my souvenir
And all it cost was my pride
It’s been a hell of a year

I could see the writing on the wall
But I took the fall

A dirty old valentine
Canary singing the blues
And all my brilliant designs
Are now just yesterday’s news
It all seemed solid enough
But it is hollow inside
And now the gentlest touch
Could break it all open wide

All the seams that had begun to fray
Finally gave way

I’ve been hit like by a hurricane
But I walked away

It’s been a hell of a year…

I Hear the Trains

Written By: Chris Kokesh

Train whistle wakes me at 3am
You lay beside and sleep through it again
Down by the river it follows the rail
Cars circus elephants, nose to tail

CHORUS:
I hear the trains each night
Dragging themselves in and out of my town
Train whistle brings a lonely soul down
I hear the trains each night

I wonder if the engineer
Knows about that kid who got killed last year
Jumping the tracks and being clever
Thinking that he’d live forever

CHORUS

Can’t you hear this whistle blow

They drove the golden spike in ‘69
After thousands had laid it all on the line
But I’ve never even set a penny on the tracks
Never hopped a train and never looked back

CHORUS

Discography

"October Valentine" ©2010
"I Never Knew" ©2005