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Sounds of Buffalo: Kate Mallen | Vote for Buffalo’s Hometown Riser

List your band members and the instruments that they play.

Kate Mallen: Singer/songwriter. Guitar and vocals

Who writes the music?

I write all my own songs. I started playing guitar when I was six years old and I started writing my own music when I was in High School. Mostly puppy love heartbreak songs. All deeply personal, autobiographical, whiny even. What I’ve evolved into as a songwriter, now that I am older, is quite different though. The more I’ve lived, the more I’ve learned to listen. And the more I’ve listened, the more I’ve connected with other people and grown as an artist. Above all, I consider my self a story teller. But, my favorite songs will always be the love kind. And I definitely write music that beats to the pulse of my own heart. You’ll know them when you hear them. I couldn’t hide that in a performance even if I tried.

How would you describe the sound?

Modern Soulful Country.

Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?

I was born and raised on Long Island. I lived in Rochester for a bit and moved to Buffalo 7 years ago for career purposes. This is home now.

What are some of the band’s influences?

My biggest influences are Patty Griffin, Lori McKenna, Otis Redding, and Jewel.

Are you schooled in music? From where?

I’m not. My brother and sister and I weren’t really allowed to watch TV growing up, so we had a lot of free time on our hands and we all played instruments. With a guitar laying around, theres always something to do. I never learned theory though. I wish that I had. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that.

Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo?

Rusty Nickel Brewing Company in West Seneca is my absolute favorite place to play and also where you would most likely find me performing.

What’s your day job?

I work in Human Resources.

What was the last live music performance that you caught?

Taste of Country at Coca – Cola Field, which I also performed at. Rasomville, a phenomenal band, backed me up for that show. They spent a lot of time learning my songs and building them to be full band and I will be forever grateful to them. That was a big moment for me for sure and a night I will never forget.

Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Or a combination of both?

I play 80% originals. I do play cover songs and I would like to play more because it’s not easy for an audience to sit through a long set of songs they’ve never heard. But, it isn’t a comfortable feeling for me to sing songs that I don’t connect with. That’s the hippy artist in me. I’d rather play a shorter set and sing my soul than get more stage time and just sing.

If you could play/sing with one famous band/musician (any time in history), what/who would that be?

I’d want to duet ‘Tramp’ with Otis Redding. It wouldn’t matter where. Just so long as I could get close enough to him to feel his vibe when he sings “I’m a lover-er-er-er-er”

I hear that you have a significant opportunity at hand… something about a contest?

I do. I do. And I feel so incredibly fortunate. I’ll need to explain a bit of the back story before I get to what’s happening current day. Taste of Country (TOC) introduced a program last year called ‘Taste of Country Risers’ which was a year long program based out of Nashville that gave up-and-coming country artists, whom they identified as the hottest new artists to watch, a ton of exposure. These artists were given exclusive interviews and performances on the Taste of Country Nights radio program and were featured at major country music festivals across the U.S. And then at the end of the year the public was given the opportunity to vote for their favorite ‘Riser’. So a similar concept to the bigger TV talent search shows like American Idol and The Voice, but aimed specifically at country music fans.

That program was wildly successful as far as finding some really incredible talent. Brett Young, Kalie Shorr and Devin Dawson were all “Risers’ who are all doing exceptionally well right now in the industry. So fast forward a bit…Taste of Country then decided to expand their search beyond Nashville and identified 15 markets across the US that would compete in a local talent search called Taste of Country’s ‘Hometown Risers‘. And Buffalo was chosen as one of the cities. 106.5 WYRK hosted the contest and I submitted my audition online back in November and I made it into the final four. And then I had to do a live performance, essentially battling it out with another three bands and made it to the top two. And then the live finale was held at Buffalo River Works in December and I won!

This happened in all 15 cities and now, there is the final competition for the top spot. There aren’t going to be any live performances or anything like that. Taste of Country has links to all of the contestants performances online, including mine, and its just up to the people of the cities to vote and to chose their city as the home of the ‘Hometown Riser‘. Voting is open until June 18th. I’m not worried though. WYRK has been so amazing and so super supportive and if any city has the will and the drive to get a hometown girl voted in, it’s Buffalo!

Now, go and vote!

Why is winning this contest important to you?

It’s amazing…when you’re a performer, you start out doing it for you, but you end up doing it for the people who connect with your music and who want to listen to you. They’re the only reason you do it really. At least for me that’s how it is. There’s no better feeling than having someone tell me that my music moved them in some way. Because I know that feeling. I know what its like to have a song touch you, heal you, hurt you, help you. So for me, the people who are coming to hear me play, they’re the only ones that matter. And I’d love to win this contest, for myself or course, so I can share my music to hopefully connect with people. But also for the city of Buffalo. To shine some the light on the incredible talent that we have here and so others can do the same. I won a songwriting contest and I’m proud of that for sure, but there are so many unbelievably talented artists and musicians in this city. And I don’t just mean good musicians, I mean GOOD musicians. Super talented, dedicated, hard working performers, singers and songwriters. We SHOULD be known for that. Buffalo should be thought of as a city that you visit for the music. I’d love to see a national spotlight shine on that fact. And if winning this contest helps do that, it will be worth it just for that. Truly. One Buffalo!

Voting is super easy. No email needed or forms to fill out. Just click on Kate Mallen! Voting can be done once every 24hours.

Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?

Not yet!

Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?

I am participating in a fundraiser called ‘Rockin for Roswell’ at Rusty Nickel Brewing Company on Saturday, June 16th and then I’ll be performing at the 106.5 WYRK LaBatt Blue Pontoon Pop Up show at Water Street Landing on Thursday June 21st. And then I’m opening Jam in the Valley in Varysburg on Thursday, July 5th.

Find Kate Mallen on Facebook



Lead photo credit: Gail Gallagher

If you would like your band featured on Buffalo Rising, please send an email to The only caveat is that you must have an upcoming live performance scheduled in a public venue in Buffalo.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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