Letter to the Editor
Every once in a while, something spectacular comes along that you just didn’t expect. In Norwich, that something is a local musical wunderkind by the name of Matt Nakoa.
I first met Matt about 15 years ago at his dad’s house in Smyrna. His dad is Will Pryor, who runs Wolf Mountain Nature Center. Matt was just a kid then, and Wolf Mountain was little more than a dream. In the ensuing years, Matt wowed his music teachers in the Norwich public schools and went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston as a piano student. After Berklee, he settled in Brooklyn and started playing piano bars. Once the word got out, there were lines around the block, and every table was full.
A benefit concert at Perry Browne a few years ago was the first time I saw Matt perform. The auditorium was packed as classmates, friends, family, and teachers all came to see and hear the local phenom. To say I was blown away by that performance is an understatement. Matt’s versatility and competence simply astound – pianist, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter. His music crosses multiple genres – folk, Americana, jazz, cabaret, classical, rock – seamlessly served up to an enraptured audience. His lyrics are thoughtful and genuine, never clichéd, reflecting life’s personal experiences and delivered with a soulful nuance that draws you in, releasing emotions that range from tears to unabashed joy.
For the past year or so, Matt has been touring across the U.S. and Europe with folk icon Tom Rush, who has been performing since 1961 and is credited by Rolling Stone Magazine as ushering in the era of the singer/songwriter. Touring with Rush, Matt’s introduction to a broader audience has not gone unnoticed – this local boy’s star is definitely rising!
The icing on this cake is that Matt is a really great person – humble, considerate, appreciative. He’s not forgotten his roots or his hometown or the people who opened doors and showed him the way. Matt and his band kick off the 2017-18 Performance Season at the Chenango Arts Council’s Martin Kappel Theater on Saturday, September 23, at 7 pm, and – trust me on this – you do not want to miss it.