When Hannah Kirby and Kurt Bittner step on The Bowery Stage Saturday, April 16, they will bring a considerable amount of talent and artistry with them.
Kirby’s been singing since she was born, took up the violin at age 8 and started writing songs while she was in high school. Now 23, she’s a veteran performer, having been one of the elite eight finalists on NBC’s “The Voice” last season.
She released her first album, “Fire in My Soul” to critical acclaim late last year.
What “The Voice” audiences didn’t see is Kirby’s talent as a fiddle player.
Hopefully, that will change after the Bowery Stage show.
Bittner, a California native, earned a full ride to the prestigious Berkeley College of Music in Boston, played guitar for Charlie Daniels and toured the west coast with a band named “Piority One,” where he wore a pair of red leather jeans.
He currently plays gigs in the area with the country band “Pine Curtain.”
Kirby and Bittner played to a enthusiastic St. Patrick’s Day audience at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas recently.
“It went great,” Bittner said in a telephone interview from his home in Sulphur Springs the day after the gig. “We had a standing ovation after the first set. People were really into it. Hannah just killed it.”
The duo was surprised when the venue’s sound man asked for their autographs on the printed set list.
“He wanted a picture with us, too,” Bittner said. “That’s never happened.”
Kirby spent hours practicing the fiddle for the St. Patrick’s Day gig.
“My neck, shoulder and back hurt so bad,” she admitted. “I haven’t practiced that much on the violin for a long time.”
Singing doesn’t make her nervous, but playing the violin that night had her in knots.
“Celtic is my favorite thing to play on the violin and I wanted it to be really, really good,” she said. “After the first song, things got going, I felt comfortable.”
Bittner and Kirby plan to play some Irish tunes in their upcoming show here, including a few by her favorite Loreena McKennit, along with some classics from the Great American Songbook.
“Any time I play acoustic, I want to play with Kurt,” Kirby said of her duet partner.
Bittner enjoys performing with Kirby, too.
“I just want to make good music,” he confessed. “That’s the beauty of it with the two of us. There’s all this communication that goes on and we don’t have to say anything.”
Kirby, who hails from Sulphur Springs, was raised on the music from “black and white movies” like “Roberta.”
“I love Irene Dunn’s version of ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,’” she said during a recent interview in Winnsboro. “When I do songs like that, I feel like the songs sing me.”
When she was in high school, Kirby played at a book signing for Commerce author Jim Ainsworth.
The Bob Wills tune “Faded Love” played an important part in “Go Down Looking,” the book Ainsworth was debuting that evening, so Kirby performed it with her mother, Nancy.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
While she loves to rock out with her band, Kirby hopes audiences in listening rooms like Poor David’s and The Bowery Stage will get to know her a little better and go on a journey.
“I hope they feel like they’ve been transported to some other place,” she mused. “Some other time.”
Maybe, if the stars align, when they come to town April 16, we’ll get to hear some Bob Wills, a few tunes from Kirby’s new record and Bittner will dust off those leather pants and show us his rock star side.
“Kurt looks like a rock star,” Kirby said. “One day, we’re going to get him into those red leather jeans again.”
Tickets for An Evening With Hannah Kirby and Kurt Bittner are on sale at their website or at Winnsboro Emporium, 200 Market Street.
For more information on Hannah Kirby and to order her CD, “Fire In My Soul,” click here.