PUTNEY—When reached by phone recently, award-winning singer/songwriter Antje Duvekot says she’s looking forward to playing at “one of [her] favorite venues ever.”
Next Stage Arts Project and Twilight Music present an evening of contemporary folk music with Duvekot on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m., at Next Stage at 15 Kimball Hill.
Duvekot will be joined on this double bill of contemporary folk music by the New York–based duo The Sea The Sea (see story, this issue).
“As for what to expect from my live show, I share a lot, like I usually do, like personal philosophies and insights,” Duvekot says. “My show is like a personal journey in song.”
“My songs are often poetic and metaphorical,” she says. “The music is acoustic-based folk.”
Duvekot, of Lincoln, Massachusetts, was born in Heidelberg, Germany and moved to the United States at 13 years old. She enjoys visiting Germany: “My father, brother and nephew live there so I go back at least once a year.”
I tell her about when I backpacked through Europe years ago and I fell in love with German cuisine. She laughs.
“I do love German food,” she says. “I miss the bread and the yogurt the most. They make the best dark, heavy whole wheat, whole grain bread.”
According to her bio, Duvekot has won some of the top songwriting awards, including the grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, the Kerrville Folk Festival, Grassy Hill New Folk Competition for Emerging Songwriters, and the Boston Music Award for Best Folk Artist.
She has wowed audiences at many major music festivals: Newport, Mountain Stage, Philadelphia, Falcon Ridge, Great Waters, and Kerrville.
The Commons spoke with Duvekot about her upcoming show in Putney, her early musical influences, her love of German food, and why the arts matter. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
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Victoria Chertok: Was guitar your first instrument?
Antje Duvekot: I grew up in Germany, and everyone in the second grade has to learn the recorder, but I didn’t find the recorder an inspiring instrument at all. My mom had a guitar. My uncle played guitar and I really looked up to him, so I’ve only ever played guitar.
V.C.: Which guitar will you play at Next Stage?
A.D.: I’m partial to Martin guitars and Gibson guitars. Martin guitars are so well rounded and warm sounding.
V.C.: Did you always know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?
A.D.: It was a dream of mine when I was in high school. I was listening to folk musicians like Ellis Paul and John Gorka, and they spoke to me so much. It was like, my everything.
No one else knew this music, so it was like my private little secret. So I started writing little songs here and there. In college, I started recording my first album.
V.C.: Who were your early musical influences?
A.D.: The female heroes who helped me figure out what it means to be a girl.
Ani DiFranco factors very large in my music education. She wrote about personal things that really moved me, and she wrote really outspoken songs that were revolutionary.
Dar Williams is up there and, other than them, the Indigo Girls and Ellis Paul.
V.C.: I’ve been listening to your song “Lighthouse” to get a sense of your music and lyrics. How do you pick your songwriting topics?
A.D.: I’m one of those writers who write straight from the heart — straight from the autobiography.
So I write where I’m at emotionally. If I’m heartbroken or struggling, I’ll write about that — or, in the case of my new album, it focuses on overcoming trauma and gaining center.
In my middle age now, I’m finding my emotional center and my strength. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.
V.C.: Tell me about your new album.
A.D.: I’m releasing New Wild West (Indie release, Pantjebare Publishing) in March. It is produced by Mark Erelli, who frequents Next Stage.
V.C.: I saw you perform twice at Next Stage in the past decade and marveled at how you create an intimate connection with your audience. Have you noticed differences in the audiences since the resumption of live music?
A.D.: Yes! I have noticed that they are so exuberant with gratitude and joy and everyone, including myself, feels like it’s a miracle to be doing this again and to be together and creating space.
Everyone is so aware of how special it is. [Audiences have] been smaller but incredibly enthusiastic.
V.C.: And have you noticed any tangible differences in your songwriting or performing since the resumption of live music?
A.D.: I have not written about Covid in my songs. It did affect my writing because I had time to write during lockdown, so I was able to write a whole album, but the songs were about the before. I’ve got to think about that a little more....
V.C.: Do you ever write songs in German?
A.D.: I have written songs in German, but right now my English is better than my German. So I like to write in my stronger language, which is English, but I have one or two songs in German for the fun of it.
V.C.: What do you like best about performing at Next Stage Arts Project?
A.D.: Everything! It’s literally one of my favorite places to play!
I love the crowd. Vermont people are down to earth and emotionally open, and they are really good listeners. I like playing Vermont, in general, and I really like Barry Stockwell, who is one of the founders of Next Stage. He has so much heart and is wonderful to work with. Barry has done so much to make it thrive.
V.C.: And finally: Why are the arts important to you?
A.D.: On a personal level, a few weeks ago, when it was so dark and I was feeling really low, low energy and kind of depressed, a friend of mine invited me to go see a duo called Son of Town Hall at Club Passim [in Cambridge, Massachusetts], and they put on such a lovely show.
It made me laugh. It was beautiful; it moved my heart and really lifted my spirits. It’s so powerful, a live performance — it lifts you out of yourself. You kind of forget all your problems, and it transports you and inspires you.
I think that is the job of art: to lift our spirits, essentially.
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Tickets are $20 in advance and $24 at the door. Next Stage will provide a beer, wine, and cocktail cash bar. For advance tickets, Covid safety policy, or information, visit nextstagearts.org.
For more information on Antje Duvekot, visit antjeduvekot.com.