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Ian Noe: Album Release Show
April 9 @ 9:00 pm
– 8PM DOORS / 9PM SHOW
– ALL AGES
– STANDING ROOM ONLY
Ian Noe draws on the day-to-day life of Eastern Kentucky on his debut album, Between the Country. Recorded in Nashville with unhurried production by Dave Cobb, these 10 original songs introduce a number of complicated characters, diverse in their own downfalls but bound together by Noe’s singular voice.
“I’ve always thought that Eastern Kentucky had a certain kind of sound, and I can’t really explain it any better than that,” he says. “What I was trying to do was write songs that sounded like where I was living.”
The lead track, “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb),” sets the tone for the album, telling the story of an alcoholic woman who fails to conceal her addiction from her family. Throughout the remaining tracks, family relationships are tested, bad decisions are inevitable, and more than a few people meet an untimely end. Titles like “Junk Town,” “Dead on the River (Rolling Down)” and “Meth Head” capture the dramatic situations faced by people in the region.
However, Between the Country is not necessarily an autobiographical album. Instead, Noe absorbed these harrowing experiences through people he’s met or stories he’s heard. Not yet 30, Noe was raised as the oldest of three children in Beattyville, Kentucky, where his parents still live in the house he grew up in. His father is a longtime youth social worker, while his mother has been employed by the same local factory for more than 20 years.
Noe learned to play guitar from his father and grandfather. As a young boy, he adored Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and spent years trying to emulate Berry’s way of playing guitar. Before long, Noe could pick country standards like “I Saw the Light” and “Wildwood Flower.” By his teen years, he gravitated to Bob Dylan and John Prine after discovering them through his family’s music collection. Neil Young soon became another favorite, along with Dwight Yoakam and Tom T. Hall, who hail from the same part of the state.
Noe says, “There’s a silence about Eastern Kentucky. It’s quiet, at least where I was raised. There are a lot of places you can go and write and listen to music and not be bothered.”
All through his childhood, his great aunt often asked Noe if he’d written any songs yet. By 15 or 16, he decided to try. A family friend, who was also a manager at the Dairy Queen where Noe worked in high school, offered to help him book a few shows and get some songs recorded. Although Noe considers them just bedroom recordings now, the discs gave him something to sell when he started playing coffee shops and other small stages around Winchester and Lexington, Kentucky, and a little bit in Ohio.
“For me it was a turning point just getting a few songs that I was happy with. I didn’t understand anything about making a record, or what that meant, when I was 15 or 16,” Noe admits. “It was the farthest thing from my mind, but once I got a couple of songs that I was satisfied with, I just kept going.”
After high school, Noe took an office job close to home instead of enrolling in college. In his early 20s, he relocated to Louisville, hoping to get a band together and write music, but he had to constantly work odd jobs as a subcontractor to make rent. After a year, he briefly returned to the office job back home before finding work on an Eastern Kentucky oil rig – which he considers the best job he’s ever had, outside of music.
Soaked with oil after his 12-hour shifts, Noe never once considered what a career in music would look like. Yet through a mutual acquaintance, his original songs attracted the attention of an artist manager. Impressed with his raw talent, she sent him an email of encouragement, which ultimately led to a working relationship. Since that time, Noe has opened multiple dates for kindred spirit Colter Wall, tapping into an audience that appreciates the sincerity and austerity in Noe’s original songs, too.
Noe received another stamp of approval in February 2019 after singing at a John Prine tribute concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles – with Prine himself in the crowd. Staged the night before the Grammys, Noe’s performance led to an offer to open three shows for his musical hero. As Noe puts it, “I’ve sat around my whole life thinking about what that would be like.”
Although touring is imminent, Between the Country serves as a potent snapshot of home. The black-and-white cover photo alludes to a lyric in the title track but Noe believes it also illustrates the album as a whole. It’s the same approach that Lucinda Williams employed on her landmark 1998 album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, which Noe cites as one of his all-time favorites. “If you have a collection of songs where the subject matter is pretty much the same, and it’s coming from the same place, I think it’s important to have some kind of picture that reflects that. I’ve always felt that way,” he says.
Noe now lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, about an hour north of Nashville, where his bandmates are based. After years of writing songs alone and playing solo acoustic sets, he now prefers touring with a band, making it possible to carry the overall mood of Between the Country out on the road as well. After all, he and Cobb recorded the album live on the floor, completing the sessions in two days. Amid these uncluttered arrangements and a relaxed vibe, Noe’s evocative voice truly stands out.
“I wanted a warm sound – that analog sound,” Noe says. “When we were getting the rough mixes going, that’s how it sounded, and that’s the direction it went in. You want people to be able to hear what you’re saying and what you’re singing about, and I think analog makes a good song stand the test of time.”
In a town known for dealing hard knocks, country singer/songwriter Brit Taylor hasn’t flinched. After spending a decade “playing by the rules”, she broke out on her own and, in less than a year, released her debut album Real Me, followed by Real Me Deluxe and has already written and recorded her next album, scheduled for release in 2022.
She is now living her dream, but it hasn’t always been easy – hard times have come calling more than once. She is eastern Kentucky born and bred, with music flowing through her veins and songs resonating in her soul. She has known what she was meant to do since her debut on the Kentucky Opry at age 7, and she never lost sight of her goal.
Brit’s music captures life and all its sadness and joy with poetic ease and plain honesty. She unabashedly writes and sings about what she lives, what she knows, what she sees. Her debut album, Real Me, was a self-reflective, 10-song LP telling of a journey to self-awareness from the depths of despair. Her soon-to-be released new album, produced by Sturgil Simpson and co-produced by David Ferguson, is a happier, more upbeat record, simply reflecting her life today. The album is feisty, funky and pure country. It will make you laugh and make you teary eyed.
“The next album is just spunky and fun,” Brit said. “It’s East Kentucky and all of the things I have loved about country music through the decades, but with my own twist.”
Her road to today was smooth until it wasn’t – when it became riddled with bends, curlicues, and hairpins. But it was the mess of her life that gave birth to her first album. After a brief wallow in self-pity, she went to work, determined to make her music her way. Sick, tired and broken hearted from the “new Nashville” she found herself in and the type of songs she was expected to write, she boldly walked away from her Nashville song writing deal. Because she’d rather “clean toilets than write shitty songs any longer,” Brit started cleaning houses to pay the bills. It wasn’t long before she started cleaning a few churches, turning her side hustle into a bona-fide small business. At the same time, she served as “general contractor” for her self-financed Real Me, produced by Dave Brainard, pulling together a cast of professionals to write with her, play with her and market her, all while recording on her own, newly created record label, Cut A Shine Records.
It was a success. Real Me debuted in 2020 on the AMA/CDX Radio Chart at No. 37, the highest-ranking debut album on the chart and just 10 days after the album’s release. It also cracked the top 5 twice in three months as the No. 2 most added album on the chart. NPR World Café’s Ann Powers called the album a “beautiful mix of classic country but vintage singer/songwriter and some bluegrass thrown in,” and American Songwriter, in its profile of Brit, called the album a “stunner which lyrically showcases Taylor’s brutally honest feelings.”
It took hard work, laser focus, stubborn perseverance, her faith and her family, but Brit dug herself out of the hard times and plowed directly into her life today. Never afraid to ask – because, as her dad taught her, if you don’t ask the answer is always “no”, Brit’s guiding principle is to be true to herself, to be authentic. It is a conviction that has paid off.
When Brit came to Nashville following high school graduation, Producer/Director Dub Cornett introduced her to the legendary Cowboy Jack Clement. Brit was in awe. Fast forward 12 years, Brit was at her wit’s end and on the verge of packing her bags and heading back home to Kentucky when Cornett introduced her to Producer/Engineer David Ferguson, whose work with legends such as Johnny Cash, John Prine, Sturgil Simpson, Charley Pride and others is renowned. “Ferg” then introduced Brit to Dan Auerbach, who co-wrote five songs on Real Me.
“And here I am two years later,” Brit said. “I am making a record with Sturgil Simpson and Ferg, and we recorded it in Cowboy’s studio. I guess some things do come full circle.
“The music industry is really a small town tucked in a big city, and, to me, it is about relationships and honesty and being true to yourself. It is about earning respect and valuing it. It is about creating your own karma.”
Her album is to be released later this year on Cut A Shine Records in collaboration with Thirty Tigers.
Her life started out like a dream.
Born where the famed Country Music Highway 23 slices through the Kentucky mountains, Brit grew up surrounded by family and music – and idols – who she loved. Chris Stapleton, Loretta Lynn, Tyler Childers, Dwight Yoakum, Patty Loveless, The Judds, and so many more. It was a place that gave birth to her dreams and opportunities to reach them.
Since debuting on the Kentucky Opry, music has been a natural part of her life. It wasn’t really the stage she loved or the fans’ love for her that she craved; it was the singing and the songs. For 10 years – from elementary school through high school, the small-town girl learned and performed on the Kentucky Opry stage every weekend though the summers and Christmas seasons. It was the life she wanted.
Following high school graduation, she packed her bags, her black Karate belt, her dog and her dreams which had become goals, and she followed her idols from that famed Music Highway out of Kentucky and into Tennessee.
She went to work. In her first five years in Tennessee, she not only earned a college degree, she turned a music business internship into a four-year publishing deal. It was during those years that Brit co-wrote with some of the top names in the business and where she and her band wrote and released an EP and toured the United States. She also married the love of her life and bought her mini-farm with a menagerie of dogs, cat, goats and chickens, firmly planting her roots in Tennessee.
Everything seemed to be going great until suddenly it wasn’t. There was the divorce from a person who was less committed to marriage than she, the death of her beloved dog, a car that quit running, a bank wanting her house and the break-up of her band. While it might have made great lyrics for a country song, it made for a hard winter of living for Brit.
Despite a life turned upside down, her goals stayed firmly in place, and Brit took a courageous leap into the next chapter of her life. She knew it was time to take control and create music that was honest to her.
When her highly anticipated solo debut album Real Me was released, it quickly became highly acclaimed. Real Me Deluxe followed, to similar accolades.
Life became good again. With her new album now in the works, a new love and marriage in her life, and two new miniature donkeys added to her menagerie of animals, Brit is bravely standing out as her own self. It isn’t an easy path to navigate, but Brit learned that the best GPS was her inner self.
In a world where authenticity is often traded for marketability, Brit Taylor remains true to the timelessness of her sound and the honesty of her lyrics. Today, the power of her music is that it is refreshingly simple yet surprisingly complex. Always true to herself, Brit Taylor continues to tells stories which manage – whether they are dramatic, humorous or heartfelt – to be downright honest. It is who she is.