Friends, from left, Cilla Bonnie, Sara Hallie Richardson and Katie Matzell, are scheduled to perform a one-night only show backed by full band March 3 at One Longfellow Square in Portland. Submitted photo

I really enjoy discovering new-to-me artists, especially ones from right here in Maine. Such is the case this week where I found a singer-songwriter from Peaks Island Katie Matzell. She is my contact at One Longfellow Square and is invaluable in finding contact information about acts coming to that excellent listening room in Portland. I was chasing down an act when I learned that she was a musician herself and that she was soon to have a show with two of her musical friends, Cilla Bonnie and Sara Hallie Richardson, at OLS on Friday, March 3. I contacted the artist I was searching for and then reconnect with Matzell and scheduled a phone interview with her. Later, I called her home number to learn more.

Q: Is this a trio that’s been around for a while?
Matzell: Well, we’re not actually a trio. Let me explain, we booked this show because two summers ago one of our first gigs after the pandemic was a show that Sara played in New Hampshire and she asked Cilla and myself to come along and sing back-up. It was just a really magical experience, blending our voices together, so we decided that we needed to book a show, the three of us, where each of us sing a handful of our own songs and accompany each other on harmonies.

Q: Now, for this upcoming performance on the 16th will you have backing musicians?
Matzell: Yes, and the band is made up of our partners so it’s kind of a family band situation.

Q: That’s cool, so what’s the breakdown?
Matzell: My husband, Adam Frederick plays bass, and Sara’s husband, Dustin LeVasseur plays drums, and Cilla’s partner, Emmitt Harrity plays the keys, we just wanted to put together a really special show in what we think is the most special room in Portland: One Longfellow Square, because of the intimacy and the sound there. We wanted to put together a magical show while everybody’s out and about and has the extra energy before the holidays hit.

Q: You’re definitely right about the venue, that’s for sure, it is, indeed, a special performing space. Now, just out of curiosity have you done any recording of your own material?
Matzell: Yes, I did. I put out an EP in 2018 and I actually played my release show at One Longfellow Square so this room is really special to me. I’ve written more music over the years and I’ve not formally gotten back into the studio to record an album, though that is in the plans for this winter. After the New Year I’ll be digging in and going through all the new songs I’ve written and making a plan for recording so I can put out new music.

Q: Does songwriting come easy for you?
Matzell: Umm, I think I have a challenging relationship with it, but over the years, having listened to and reading a lot of interviews with other artists, it seems like everyone kind of has a similar struggle. It’s not the most fun process but it feels necessary to get to a point of completion and get out what you’re trying to say. I definitely spent most of the pandemic doing a deep-dive into songwriting and taking songwriting workshops. There were just a lot of offerings from artists and bands who couldn’t tour, who started figuring out how they could keep their businesses going, so I got to take some songwriting workshops with some songwriters that I really admire, like from Nashville. I’ve learned a lot along the way and so the process with this round of new songs I’ve been working on has been different.


Q: How so?
Matzell: It’s been easier in some respects but also it doesn’t get easier when you know the process is just hard (chuckle). So you kind of have to take breaks and come up for air because it gets really challenging and it becomes kind of a mental game at a certain point. But I’ve learned a lot and I’m really excited about the new songs that I’ve been writing, and just witnessing how the writing is maturing and how my voice has changed coming out of the pandemic, everything is just sort of changing for the better, I think.

Q: What’s the best part of all of this, in your opinion?
Matzell: Well, live performance is the best part of it. I also just really enjoy making music with my friends, and I love songwriting. I’m interested in writing for other artists, and I love working out arrangements with the band. I also think when you’re playing good music with your friends, that’s the sweet spot, and it doesn’t really get better than that, but having a live audience to witness it is icing on the cake. It’s a really good perspective to come out of this whole hiatus that I’ve been taking for the last almost three years.

Q: Now do you co-write with the two folks you’re with now?
Matzell: We actually haven’t, but it is something that I would love to do. We all have really busy schedules, and we’re all coming out of this pandemic with different priorities and different career paths. Sara just recently had a baby, but I would love it if the three of us could get together and write.

Q: So what are your thoughts about the gig at OLS?
Matzell: Just digging through Sara’s material and Cilla’s material, I mean, not only is the show going to be a really powerful combination of three singer-songwriters, but I would love to see what would happen if we got in the studio together and wrote together.

Q: What can folks expect from this performance on the 16th?
Matzell: Folks can expect really lush vocals, we’ve got really beautiful three-part harmonies on most of the songs in this show. They can also expect a couple special covers. Sara does a really gorgeous Joni Mitchell cover. I won’t give the name of the song, but it is worth coming out for. Her gorgeous, bell-tone soprano voice is just so special, especially in that room. The caliber of the songwriting is great. There’s a lot of jazz and folk influence, and it’s kind of a really genre-defying show, but it’s a really good fit for an intimate listening room.

Q: And One Longfellow Square is just that, for sure! Is there anything else?
Matzell: Well, with those strong harmonies is a great, tasteful backing band, and it’ll be one set. It’s one show; there isn’t anybody opening from anyone. It’ll be all of us on stage; it’ll be a special night of shared voices and celebrating being on a live stage again.

Q: Is there anything, Katie that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Matzell: I just hope that people will take the time to check out all three of us and our material to get a sense of what this show is going to be. I would like to urge people to make the commitment and come. It’s going to be a really special night and a one-night-only situation. … It’s not to be missed!

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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