Lara Hope: Songs in the Key of Quarantine

MAD Kudos to CoK Distinguished Artist Lara Hope

Local musician Lara Hope will receive the 2020 Distinguished Artist Award from the City of Kingston in an online ceremony on Thursday, November 12, at 5:30 p.m. The event will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the City and its Arts Commission, Lara Hope and Radio Kingston. For more information about the awards event, call (845) 334-3929 or email

Keep rockin’ and congratulations, Lara!

When did you first know you were a musician? Who was your most influential mentor and why?
My mother first taught me how to play a few chords on guitar when I was nine. I learned to play “Unchained Melody” first, and “I Will Always Love You” as the second song. They both have the same chords so that was a good two-for-one! I still love both of those songs.

What instrument(s) do you play? Do you compose music too?
I play guitar and bass, sing, and am currently learning ukulele. I am a songwriter as well.

If you write music, tell us a little about your creative process – where/when do you get most of your ideas and how do you know a piece is ‘finished’?
My creative process changes from song to song. Inspiration comes in different forms, different ways, and sometimes in the most unexpected moments. One thing I always try to do it to keep a running list of song “hooks” in my phone. Whenever I think of a line I like, or a topic I’d like to run with, I write it down before I forget it. Some ideas come from nature, some from TV, some from other people’s songs, a good conversation, or an article or book I read. Sometimes I’ll scroll through my list to see if any of the topics fit my current mood, and then go from there. Some of these ideas have been floating around for years.

At times I think of something and feel motivated right in that moment to start working on a piece. Even when I’ve completed a song from an idea on that list, I don’t delete it. I get a really nice sense of satisfaction/accomplishment from seeing the song topics that have already been turned into completed songs. It motivates me to keep writing. Once a song has a flow, and feels good to play without overthinking the parts, and has a cohesive message and vibe, I’m usually ready to play it out. But who knows when art is ever actually “finished”? Things can always change/morph/grow, as we do!

How would you describe your musical style? Do you play in a band or are you primarily a solo artist?
I play in both a duo, and a four- or occasionally five-piece band (when we can get a saxophone player). I describe our musical style as “Roots Rock n Roll & Rockabilly Twang.” In a nutshell, we are fusing old rock n roll, classic country, blues, rhythm & blues and some folk elements to create a “neo-version” of these genres.

What are the most interesting new trends in music? Is your own music changing as a result?
Most of the music I listen to is older or inspired by older music. I’m not interested in a lot of what I hear on the radio today. FOX Oldies is actually my favorite local radio station. Most of our fanbase is people who appreciate the music of the ‘50s/’60s, and like that we’re putting a modern spin on it. If I only did this to make money, I’d probably play more modern pop or electronic music, throw a lot of auto tune on my vocals, and market myself to a younger audience. But that’s not why I do this. I value the days of music when people played instruments, and it wasn’t all done on a laptop. I like the rawness of four people playing songs they wrote, on real instruments, on a stage together.

Do you also teach music lessons or are you strictly a performance artist and/or composer?
I’ve given many beginner guitar lessons over the years, mostly to kids and young adults. I’d love to give voice lessons one day, but I’m still learning the proper technique myself.

How has being in Kingston inspired, enhanced or changed your work? If you live or work in the Midtown Arts District, what do you like best about it? How long have you lived in Kingston or the Hudson Valley?
I’ve always felt a tremendous amount of support from our community. Being asked to do this interview only strengthens that sentiment. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road, and have played in 46 states, but despite the beautiful landscapes, varied music scenes and interesting people around the USA, I’ve always looked forward to coming back to Ulster County and have been proud to call this home.

I first moved to the Hudson Valley to attend SUNY New Paltz in 2004, and I’ve been in Ulster County ever since. I’ve been living in Kingston for almost a decade, and my husband and I just bought our first home, in the heart of the Midtown Arts District! We lived nearby before this, and it’s been really wonderful and inspiring to see the rise of MAD, and watch Broadway transform into a hotspot for art galleries, live music, delicious restaurants, comic book shops and more. I am so looking forward to the time when the world balances out a bit more, and we are able to embrace the arts even more than we did in the past.

What are you working on now? Anything coming up you’d like to tell our readers about?
My husband Matt (Goldpaugh) and I began working on an album of pandemic inspired songs when the shutdown began in March. The album, Songs In The Key Of Quarantine, is now available everywhere you stream music, and on CD and digital download on our website! It was our first time recording ourselves, and we had a great time doing it, and learning how to do it.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones / The Gold Hope Duo
79 Greenkill Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401

(516) 749 2233