Joyous folk pop

Kuinka is a quartet of musicians who are known for their folksy pop songs. The group will take the stage at the Pantages Theater on First Night. Photo courtesy of Kuinka

Among the music groups performing at Tacoma’s First Night festivities is Kuinka, a Puget Sound-area quartet that plays what National Public Radio dubbed “joyous folk pop.” The group will hit the stage at the Pantages Theater at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 31.

The First Night show will be something of a launching pad from which the band will begin its winter tour. Kuinka will be performing at venues all over the United States in January and February.

Kuinka is made up of brothers Zach and Nathan Hamer, along with Miranda Zickler and Jillian Walker, who all came together in 2014 to form a unique breed of string band; one proudly defiant of preconceived notions of what fits under the label Americana.They chose the band name Kuinka from the Finnish for how.

Kuinka’s 2014 debut “The Wild North,” which propelled the band out of the woods and on to stages across the country, was followed by their 2016 breakout LP “The Heartland.” Both albums were recorded at the famed Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville (Fleet Foxes, Metric), and led to featured performances at dozens of festivals and several successful national headlining tours.

Home from touring the heartland, all four found themselves in the midst of major life changes both as people and as artists; moving out of the house they shared for the previous two years to new cities and broadening the tonal palette from which they draw as musicians. They continued to experiment with new instruments and new sounds that would start to take their music in an exciting new direction.

After fleshing out new songs in rehearsal, the band headed to a studio near Portland, Ore. to work with the longtime producer Jerry Streeter (Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers). The quartet was joined in the studio with their touring wizard of the woodwinds John Benefiel, who handled clarinet and saxophone.

The result was “Stay Up Late,” an album of songs that ring with the vibrancy of exploration and discovery. “We’ve spent our time as a band in pursuit of a unique sound that captures our energy and essence” said Zickler. “Once we came together and started work on the new singles, we knew it was time to redefine ourselves. We’d love for our music to be a soundtrack to adventure. The change represents finding your way, for both us and our listeners.”

Kuinka recently made a video for “Mistakenly Brave” from the “Stay Up Late” EP that premiered at PopMatters.

Nathan Hamer explained that “the music video for “Mistakenly Brave” was first born when we stumbled upon some old ornamental French horns in a thrift shop and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be hilarious if we made a music video where we performed with old renaissance instruments instead of our own?’ The idea sort of snowballed out of control from there and got increasingly ridiculous. And with today’s political climate, the idea of playing music for a self-obsessed tyrannical king also seemed fitting.”

Visit to view the video.

For more on Kuinka, visit or

Kuinka at First Night

Dec. 31, 

7:45-8:30 p.m.

Pantages Theater

901 Broadway, Tacoma

Admission: First Night Button $12 gets you into all  First Night shows


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