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@ Brew Baker's, April 11, 1998

Brew Baker's, 4/11/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
This was a pleasant surprise. I was at Brew Baker's to see Big Walter Smith and arrived early so I could hear this new blues singer, Noelle, who was opening the show. After listening to her sing several songs, including "Down Home Blues," "Tore Down," and "The Thrill Is Gone" I found myself really liking her vocal style. But an interesting pattern was developing that I later confirmed when I talked to her after the set. It seemed the only songs she was singing were blues standards that were originally done by blues "men." Noelle has an almost husky sounding blues voice with a sultriness that reminds me of a blues cabaret singer from the 40's and 50's. She said "most female blues singers are too high for me so other than Etta James, the men are my main influence." This gives her a very unique and intriguing vocal style.

She sang a slow blues number, I think it was "Mistreated," where she said "Walter likes it when I sing these slow songs." I think it would be fun to hear her and Big Walter Smith sing together, there is quite a bit of similarity in the material they both sing. Noelle's band for this show featured Brian Henderson on guitar (for the first part of the set before he had to leave for another gig), Scotty Graves took over on the guitar for the rest of the set. Thomas West played some complementary keyboards (he was filling in for Mick Z.) and Mikey Fust and Steve York held down the rhythm section on drums and bass respectively. Steve was an MMA award winner in 1997 for best bass player. Later in the show Noelle called up a young saxophone player by the name of Joe Alley who added a nice touch to her sound. That young kid could sure blow that horn too. It turns out Noelle liked his playing so much she asked him to play in her band (Joe also plays fulltime with Inside Straight).

Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved.
Noelle has been performing on stage since age 12 with the Children's Theater Company and has been in the music business for the past 13 years singing all types of popular songs. She said she feels totally comfortable on stage and finds herself getting nervous when she is not performing in front of people. She only recently has been singing the blues full time because "that's what the audience wanted to hear. Singing the blues just comes naturally too. It's as if that's what I was meant to do." After the show she said "I'm going to throw on some tennis shoes and jeans, that's the real me." She also put away her long blue scarf which she had tied around the mike stand and put on her Big Walter Smith T-shirt as she joined the audience for the Groove Merchant's show. You can see Noelle at Blues Alley May 15 and 16, 1998.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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