Chris Kokesh
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Chris Kokesh

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review of Chris Kokesh's October Valentine"

With October Valentine, Chris Kokesh– formerly the fiddler with Misty River, a Pacific Northwest bluegrass and folk band- emerges as a mature, acoustic-based singer and songwriter. Using a lineup of various studio musicians, Chris draws on a musical palette incorporating elements of folk, bluegrass, old-time country music and retro-rock. Among the highlights are “Lucy,” a very poignant song sung from the perspective of a dying mother offering life advice to her daughter; “I Hear the Trains,” a lonely, middle-of-the-night song sung by a woman seemingly not tempted to hop aboard; “Planting a Garden in October,” a metaphorical piece about a hopeless relationship; and “Hell of a Year,” a post-break-up song with a nice hook and some twangy electric guitar playing by Jonathan Byrd. I’ll definitely want to hear more from her. - Sing Out!, Volume 54, #1, Nov/Dec 2010, Jan 2011

"New Traditional"

The folksy, countryish, rootsy, Americana, all-woman Misty River regularly draws over-capacity crowds in Eugene and around Oregon. Back in 2005, Misty River fiddler Chris Kokesh released a solo CD, and I’d sure like to hear it; her new October Valentine celebrates the best of a classic folk singer-songwriter sound. She sounds a little like Lucy Kaplansky without the sugary sentiment, a little like Kris Delmhorst without the poppier sound, a little like Tracy Grammer and a lot like success on the Americana circuit.

The wistful “Lucy” tugs at heartstrings in the tradition of Richard Shindell’s narrators; her covers, like Steve Fisher’s “A Night Like This” and Hugh Moffett’s “Rose of My Heart,” showcase her voice’s sweet, achingly lovely ring. October Valentine features gorgeous cello from Skip vonKuske and everything from elegant vocal harmony to the judiciously occasional dobro from a host of others. Around the song circle fire at a folk fest late at night, friends and family leaning on each other for warmth and comfort, the stars out and crickets singing in the background, Kokesh’s songs of lost love, regret, community and brave persistence would float effortlessly into the place where longing, love and nostalgia meet.

Chris Kokesh and her new band, Brokentop, play at 7:30 pm Friday, Feb. 19, at Tsunami Books. $10 adv., $12 door.

-Suzi Steffen
- Eugene Weekly, Eugene, OR, February 18, 2010

"Chris Kokesh's October Valentine"

2010 has barely begun and already a notable local CD has been released by musician Chris Kokesh. The songwriter/fiddler from Misty River has just released her first full length solo album titled October Valentine.

There are eleven songs of love lost, bad timing, resolve and perseverance that hold the focus on real life stories told through Kokesh’s observant songwriting, crystalline voice and expressive guitar. Spacious simple string band arrangements are in service to the songwriting and seven of the tunes are distinctive originals.

A collection full of contemplation, hope and bittersweet tales, this disc opens with Texan Steve Fisher’s buoyant “On A Night Like This” and segues into the bittersweet tale of “Lucy.” “I Hear the Trains” is a homegrown southeast Portland tale recalling the young man killed by a freight train a couple years back. The energetic and wry album closer “Hell of a Year” is destined to become a New Year’s anthem.

With many concerts planned, Kokesh is on the move all over the Northwest (solo and with Misty River too). One of the new generation of folk storytellers, she is worth a listen and, as her song suggests, she is “finding the edge”—of the heart, of the night, of the breath and the depth of song and she’s coming on strong on the edge of a new year and decade.

October Valentine is available at Hear tunes at
- The Southeast Examiner, Portland, OR, January 2010

"Misty River's Kokesh Takes a Solo Turn"


In a music scene dominated by hybrids, it is relaxing and refreshing to be able to describe music with one word.

Singer-songwriter Chris Kokesh, who is best known as a member of Americana group Misty River, is releasing a solo CD, “October Valentine,” today at Tsunami Books.

It is, simply, a folk album.

“Singer-songwriter Chris Kokesh is not known for her happy songs,” her news release says. But like “Box of Lace,” the song she wrote for the 2004 Misty River album, “Willow,” “October Valentine” has songs about life’s choices and values.

These songs sometimes blend the sadness of letting go with the hope that doing so can bring.

“For me, this collection of songs is about working my way through a hard year of my own, and coming out stronger for it,” Kokesh says in the release.

I you have heard Misty River, Kokesh’s voice will be familiar to you. But her solo style more reflects the band’s mellow, introspective side.

Kokesh recorded the album in Salem with long-time friend and collaborator Dale Adkins.

The CD release is also an occasion to debut Kokesh’s new band, Brokentop. It features Adkins on guitar and banjo; Kokesh on fiddle and guitar; Jeff Smith on mandolin; and Suzanne Pearce on acoustic bass.

They named themselves after the Central Oregon peak. Each member contributes vocals.

Tonight, they will play Kokesh’s originals, bluegrass, old-time and classic country.

Tsunami Books is at 2585 Willamette St. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $12 at the door.

-Serena Markstrom
- The Register-Guard, Eugene, OR, February 19, 2010


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



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