On December 20, 2023

Strafford’s Noah Kahan plays for patients at UVM Children’s Hospital


By Shaun Robinson/VTDigger

Noah Kahan, a Strafford-born singer-songwriter, plays for young patients, their families and hospital staff members at the UVM Medical Center on Friday



Kahan, fresh off a Grammy nomination, played his viral hit “Stick Season” for young patients and their families, on Friday, Dec. 15

By Shaun Robinson/VTDigger

Noah Kahan has performed on some of music’s biggest stages this year, from Lollapalooza to Red Rocks Amphitheatre to Saturday Night Live — all since he preformed a free concert at the FIS Alpine World Cup ski race at Killington last Thanksgiving. 

But on Friday, Dec. 15, the Strafford-born singer opted for a different kind of venue, a more local one: a sunny hallway in the children’s hospital wing of the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. 

“It means the world to be in Vermont,” said Kahan, whose moody, folk-pop songs about life in small-town New England have earned him international fame and, last month, a Grammy nomination. The 26-year-old now lives just outside of Boston.

Kahan played the title track from his latest album, “Stick Season,” for about 20 patients and their families as well as dozens more doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. The UVM Children’s Hospital mascot, a bipedal, break-dancing moose named Monty, had a front-row seat — little wonder, it seemed, as Kahan said Monty was “my biggest fan.”

The performance was clad in branding from the coffee chain Dunkin’, which helped organize the event, including a hat on Kahan’s head and logos on the holiday-themed set flanking him as he played. Dunkin’s mascot — a large, white coffee cup named Cuppy — stood among the crowd, too. 

Kahan and Dunkin’ together donated $2,000 worth of toys to UVM Medical Center that will go to young patients and their families, hospital officials said Friday.

Speaking just before Kahan stepped out to play, Lewis First, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, praised the singer’s openness in talking about his struggles with his mental health — across his lyrics and performances, and through a nonprofit organization. 

“What Noah Kahan stands for,” First told the crowd, “is something we should be talking about. Remove the stigma. Have the discussion. And provide the resources.” 

Kahan drew laughs during his performance for the handful of lyrics that he said he had changed to make the track more “friendly.” The song, which went viral on the app TikTok last year, recounts the sadness of feeling left behind after a relationship ends. 

The line “I’ll drink alcohol ‘til my friends come home for Christmas” became “I’ll drink applesauce ‘til my friends come home for Christmas,” while “somethin’ even smoking weed does not replace” became “somethin’ even climbing trees does not replace.”

After Kahan played “Stick Season,” he posed for photos and autographed merchandise for many of the children’s hospital’s patients and staff members in attendance. He gave the young patients vinyl copies of the album “Stick Season,” drawing tongue-in-cheek grumbles from some parents that the kids would not even know how to play them. 

One of the first people from the crowd to chat with Kahan was Victoria Reed of Alburgh, who has come to UVM Medical Center for surgeries since she was born. Speaking a few minutes later, she called meeting the singer — whom she’s been a fan of for years — “insane.”

Reed, who is a sophomore at Saint Michael’s College, gave Kahan a hug and then handed him a present — honey, from the beehives that her family keeps on their land. 

“My mom thought it would be good for his voice,” she said with a laugh.

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