by Len Lear
There are countless thousands of duos all over the U.S. making music, but I doubt if there is another one quite like Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise, one of the acts that will be performing on Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m., in the “Music for the New Revolution Showcase” concert in the Folk Factory Coffeehouse at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, 6900 Stenton Ave. (at Gorgas Lane) in Mt. Airy.
Elise, the harpist who is in her late 20s, grew up near Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Knotz, who is in his 30s, grew up in Bryn Mawr. They actually met at a Whole Foods market in Wynnewood! She had seen his previous band perform at a fundraiser she attended and was inspired by his performance and the message in the music.
Two months later, they happened to be in the same Whole Foods when Elise approached Knotz and said she really liked both his music and his message, and “If you ever want to jam with a harpist, here’s my number.” They met up a month or so later to play together and wound up recording an album starting last February and finishing four months later. (The album will be available later this month.) They have been on the road ever since, most recently returning from an Alaskan tour.
In addition, they offer motivational creative arts workshops and performances at hospitals, schools and community centers. Their mission is “to use the power of music, personal experience and empathetic relations to help individuals grow to meet their fullest potential.” Elise has a passion for community music therapy and has facilitated group sessions in the U.S., South Africa, Peru and Jamaica.
And Knotz is one of today’s fastest emerging alternative artists who has opened for The Roots, Common, Arrested Development, Josh Ritter and Bruce Springsteen. In addition to his musical talent, he has participated in food and clothing drives, cancer benefits and disaster relief efforts.
Elise, who now lives in Upper Darby, has an Addiction Counselor Certificate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Therapy, all from Immaculata University in Chester County. In Philly she has performed at the Fillmore, World Cafe Live and Johnny Brenda’s.
“Over the years of exploring various music genres,” she said, “I have taken a liking to classical music such as Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, English-French avant-pop band Sterelob, funk and soul from Ohio Players and singer/songwriters like Joanna Newsom and India Arie.”
Through her studies of becoming a board certified music therapist, Elise completed a clinical internship in South Africa in 2013, which involved facilitating group and individual music therapy sessions with children throughout the region affected by issues such as substance abuse, gang violence, domestic abuse, trauma and AIDS.
“In 2014, I supervised 20 music therapy students for the Jamaica Field Service Project. The trip encompassed music therapy students and professionals from across the US, working at a variety of locations throughout the rural parishes of Jamaica, including infirmaries, hospitals, homeless centers and special needs schools.
“Professionally, the hardest thing that I have ever had to do was leave a stable job at a music therapy non-profit agency, MusicWorks, working with so many beautiful beings who taught me so many lessons through their challenges, to pursue my dream and start a new path of building a community music therapy project from the ground up.”
Knotz, who lives in Philly, has performed often in the city over the last 10 years at The Electric Factory, The Fillmore, World Cafe Live, Johnny Brenda’s and TLA. But his favorite gig was undoubtedly “opening for Bruce Springsteen in Philly. It was a concert for Barack Obama when he was running for President in 2008. Another fave was opening for Lauryn Hill! I’ve been a fan of Lauryn for years, so it was amazing to share the stage with her.”
Knotz’s other favorite musicians are Tupac Shakur, Digable Planets, Public Enemy and Bob Marley. “They all did music the way they wanted to do it without conforming to what was the popular music norm. All were mouthpieces of their neighborhoods, and all had a strong message in their music.”
What was the hardest thing Knotz ever had to do? “Well, like most folks, I have gone through some hardships, but making a choice so early in life to pursue a goal that has no perceived guaranteed security was one for sure!”
What was the best advice he ever received? “Always believe in yourself; never take things personally; be humble, and never give up!”
For more information about the Feb. 9 concert, call 215-848-6246. You can reach Len Lear at 215-248- 8807.