EVA: Contemporary Voices, International Roots — and Brooklyn Influences

December 9, 2016 by

EVA  /(L-R -Liz Simmons, Nicole Zuraitis and Kath Buckell) / photo by Deneka Peniston /courtesy of Producers, Inc.

EVA, a teaming of three singer-songwriters from diverse musical backgrounds, draws seamlessly from the roots of traditional and contemporary original folk music. The trio’s genesis goes back a couple of years, when Kath Buckell, the Australian member of the group, then living in our fair borough, began collaborating with longtime Brooklyn resident Nicole Zuraitis.

They had first met seven years ago, an encounter that, Buckell tells Brooklyn Roads, “Sounds like the beginning of a joke. Literally, ‘an Australian and an American walked into a bar in Park Slope…’ We brought in [Ireland native] Liz Simmons about a year ago after former member Aoife Clancy, the daughter of The Clancy Brothers’ Bobby Clancy, left to relocate.”

Liz, who was not available for this interview, was highly recommended by Ms. Clancy “and when we heard her at a double billing we had at Infinity Hall [in Norfolk, CT], we felt she was the perfect fit,” says Buckell. Having heard EVA’s three-part harmony at Rockwood Music Hall in October, we would have to say that “perfect fit” is an understatement.

Zuraitis tells us that Brooklyn shaped her musical style and creativity “because there are so many places to listen to new artists and new sounds all within a 20 -minute radius. I can head to Jalopy for some old time rag, or swing by Korzo for some modern jazz, Manhattan Inn for varying intimate song cycles and of course go to Brooklyn Bowl to check out funk and soul groups.”

She adds, “I really enjoyed performing at Brooklyn Bowl because what’s better than music and bowling?” Zuraitis is also a fan of ShapeShifter Lab in Park Slope.  “It’s owned by a jazz bassist who built it from the ground up. It’s large enough to house big band concerts while also catering to more avant-garde artists,” she says.

Buckell, who lived in Brooklyn for six years, tells us that she loved its “diverse music scene, where I could hear just about any style of music. A lot of the venues were listening rooms as well, so I felt a real appreciation for the artists.”  Overall, Brooklyn venues have “a more relaxed feel than the Manhattan clubs,” says Zuraitis. “So I would recommend booking a show here as a jumping off point for visiting artists.”  Singer-songwriters in particular will enjoy the intimacy of Pete’s Candy Store, she adds, while “modern artists may love the warehouse feel of C’mon Everybody.”

Zuraitis attributes Brooklyn’s spawning of “so many talented, multi-genre artists” to its cultural diversity. “People of all ethnicities live side by side here. My friends, both personally and musically, come from all over the world, so I have the great fortune of being exposed to their unique musical personalities. This greatly influences my songwriting,” she tells Brooklyn Roads. Further contributing to her craft is the fact that, “Many of my dear friends and colleagues who are also stellar musicians live in Brooklyn too [and] they are always swinging by for jam sessions, co-writing collaborations or rehearsals.”

Among her favorite local artists is Snarky Puppy. “Most of them live in Brooklyn and I love them,” Zuraitis says. Beyond our borough, she says performing with either Sara Bareilles or Stevie Wonder would be a dream collaboration, while Buckell tells Brooklyn Roads that doing duets with Van Morrison or Joan Baez tops her bucket list.