Tom Rush in session with Matt Nakoa

How I met Matt

In the late Fall of 2014, I had invited a bunch of guest artists to my upcoming holiday show at Boston’s Symphony Hall, and I had a bunch of new songs I wanted them to get to know in case any of them felt like playing or singing along.

So I went over to Fox Run Studios in Sudbury MA, in the basement of my friend Neale Eckstein’s house, to cut some demos.

We set up the mics and got comfortable. Neale said, “I’ve got this keyboard player staying with me, in case you’d like to add some keyboards.” I said, “Nah.” “He’s really good,” said Neale. “No, thank you, I don’t think so,” said I. Neale stood over my chair, hands on hips (I may be mis-remembering this, but this is what it felt like), and intoned, “He’s really, really good.” Intuitive fellow that I am, I sensed that Neale, who was doing me a favor by letting me use his studio, wanted me to hear this guy. “Ah, OK,” I replied hesitantly, “maybe just one song.”

He then went and woke up Matt Nakoa and dragged him to the basement. He looked to be a very sleepy teenager (he’s actually 30 but you’d never know it), and clearly was unclear as to who this Tom Rush guy was supposed to be. So Neale sat him down and he added a piano track to a song I’d just cut. Damn! Sounded awfully good! We added keyboards to a couple of more tracks and then ended up re-recording the lot of them so Matt could play live with me.

At the end of the session I invited Matt to come to Symphony Hall and be part of the band. He distinguished himself there, and a few months later I asked him if he’d like to join me for a couple of gigs. The upshot is that young Matt has been on board with me for most of my shows over the past year. (He has his own schedule of concerts, and sometimes there’s a conflict.) He backs me up, makes me sound much better than I really am, and does a couple of songs on his own during the evening. The crowd loves him (especially the ladies, because he’s so cute!).

Matt’s on his way to bigger and better things, but I’m sure enjoying working with him while I can. Thank you Neale!

All the best,

Tom Rush

Fox Run Studio:

Matt Nakoa:


Here’s a taste of what you can expect from Matt:

Tom and Matt performed live at The Center for the Arts in Natick (TCAN), Natick MA on June 20th, 2015. Here Matt performs his song “Stormchaser”.