Students gather at The Cabin, familiar folk artist returns

    More stories from Brian Sheridan

    Like a home away from home, Chris Koza took The Cabin stage Friday night with confidence and ease.

    This folk singer, songwriter and musical educator filled the seats in The Cabin, bringing in nearly 30 people before he even started, with even more people trickling in as he performed.

    With his trusty guitar, harmonica and bass-player DJ House, the crowd gave a positive energy back to his performance. Even as a Minnesotan, UW-Eau Claire students had no problem welcoming him back for what Koza believes to be around his 25th performance in the city.

    Koza talked about how much he enjoys Eau Claire and the familiar faces he sees every time he comes back. He told the audience about his adventures to the Oakwood Mall and over to Pizza Plus.

    Currently, Koza is living in Minneapolis and mentioned how the differences between Wisconsin and Minnesota can drive us apart, but in the end, we can come together for music.

    “We don’t like the same food or the same beer, but just for the night, thanks for welcoming us in,” Koza said.

    Koza fans like senior Stephanie Hruska have been following his day in Wisconsin on Instagram and enjoyed getting to watch him live again.

    “I think it was a really great show,” Hruska said. “This was the second time I’ve seen him and he always puts on a really good show.”

    Those who recognize Koza may remember him from his performance with Ingrid Michaelson back in November. Koza reminisced on the event and modestly said, “it was just a time in my life.”

    Beyond performing, Chris Koza is making his living through a well-rounded, full-time music career. He is actively involved with songwriting, commercial work, educational music workshops and playing guitar for his church, as well as for his band, Rogue Valley, and other artists.

    He has produced nine albums with Rogue Valley so far, noted as one of Minnesota’s best bands by Paste Magazine, including multiple solo albums. A Minnesota Monthly critic said, “The man’s got ‘pop’ down.”

    According to his website, Koza has produced work for a plethora of television shows, such as ABC’s “Cougartown,” MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and Matt & Kim and CBS’s 2013 Superbowl pre-game show.

    Koza spent the last month touring across the Midwest, heading to places like Green Bay, Madison and Chicago. Last fall he was traveling across the east coast as well, touring to placing in New York City, Cleveland, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Chris talked about how he enjoys the less glamorous gigs that are more emotionally rewarding, like when he did an educational workshop at this alternative high school in Northfield, Minnesota.

    “When I first was getting started playing music, the coolest gig I did was the cafe Dunn Brothers in Saint Paul and I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m playing here, finally,’” Koza said. “That changed over time.”

    Koza is hoping to do the Iceland Airwaves Festival in November in addition to his upcoming shows in Minnesota. For those looking to find where Chris is playing next, he is on all the sites, which can be found through his website

    “Some of the plans are still in flux but it’s going to be a busy year and it’s going to be a productive year,” Koza said.