with Ian Noe
Maquoketa, Iowa • 10/27/2018
by Jeremy Glazier
Codfish Hollow in Maquoketa, Iowa, is a venue that needs to be experienced to understand it’s genuine appeal. Situated down a dirt road, you park free of charge in the cow pasture. Walk carefully to avoid the cow-pies as you head back up to the road where Marv, his tractor, and the hay rack style wagon will take you about about a half mile down the road to the actual barn where the events take place.
After a check in for my ticket at the first of several fire pits situated through out the property, I walked up the hill to the barn to find my spot near the stage. Complete with built-in merchandise area at the entrance of the barn, drinks on the side, and food, arts and crafts under the barn, Codfish Hollow offers and delivers a complete concert experience.
Now, to the evening’s entertainment. I will go on record as saying that when we look back 10 years from now, this duo of artists will be listed among names like Isbell, Childers, Simpson, and Nelson as the precipice of when music changed for the better. When the artists writing, singing, and living the truth of their music started chipping away and gaining more attention than your nationally, pre-programmed hitmakers.
Ian Noe and Colter Wall lace their lyrics with hard looks at everything from the opioid epidemic to wonderfully thought out stories and characters that actually shake you emotionally and mentally as you listen. Each song and strum of their respective guitars relay the extent of the talent that we desperately need in music today.
The opener this night was Ian Noe, a Kentucky native with influences that touch on the highest of folk and country royalty. His storytelling is at times whimsical like Arlo Guthrie or John Prine but as poignant as Bob Dylan. His almost permanent scowl while singing conveys the depth and intensity of his lyrics but completely subsides while addressing the audience.
He mentions before singing “Dead on the River” that it was written after finishing the first season of True Detective. While he laughed with the audience at the notion that binge watching Netflix could produce any kind of inspiration, it speaks to his artistic vision and an inside glint of what Ian is capable of.
He ran through a wide range of songs including the 4 songs on his EP that include “Irene”, “Off This Mountaintop”, “A Young Felon Dates an Old Woman”, and “Methhead”. As this was my first time hearing him preform, I wasn’t familiar with the other songs in the line up but a quick YouTube search resulted a number of the tunes I look forward to hearing on a full length record sometime around April of 2019. Joining Ian on stage were Andrew Sovine on guitar, Adam Beard on bass, and Erin Nelson on drums.
Juxtaposed to Ian’s attention to the crowd, Colter Wall casually took the stage alone and treated the fans to a step back in time when a true cowboy/plainsman might sit next to a fire and serenade those around him. His Speedy Creek, Saskatchewan roots are proudly embedded in each song as much as his influences from guys like Marty Robbins or Willis Alan Ramsey.
Colter carries about 4-5 songs on his own before the rest of his talented band joins him mid song and add some extra weight to the storytelling. They are a tight combination of Jason Simpson on bass, Jordan Solly Levine on drums, Jake Groves on harmonica, and Patrick Lyons on lap steel. During songs like “Kate McCannon” and “Sleeping on the Blacktop”, they will slow and/or stop playing completely to give Colter, his booming voice, and the guitar the focus his storytelling deserves.
Colter sings a crowd favorite “Me and Big Dave” from his self titled album as well as “Thirteen Silver Dollars” and also, as he works through the set, the up-beat tune “Motorcycle”. He mentions, with a noticeably measure of pride, that that his friend and fellow country artist Blake Berglund wrote an additional verse to his song and proceeded to sing it with the extra verse. I can’t recall ever hearing of artists doing this but it’s a great addition to an already amazing song and again, speaks to the artistry of a new breed of country musicians pushing back against the spoon fed hits on modern country radio.
A few more from the new album Songs Of The Plains included “Saskatchewan in 1881”, “Calgary Round Up”, and “John Beyers (Camaro Song)”. Why the Camaro song? We’ll, Colter jovially explains before the song that he drew the story line from a couple of real life brothers that decided the best way to resolve their differences was to shoot each others vehicles with their .22 rifles. The song and the origin story aren’t an exact match but it’s another great glimpse into where he draws his varied inspirations.
While Colter is only 23 years young, he has the demeanor and stage presence of a soul triple his years . He often sings with his head down so only a sliver of his face is visible under his black cowboy hat. And when you do catch a look at his face, it’s often holding a strained expressions as though he’s reliving the sorrows and pains of the stories he’s written. Colter’s honesty and familiarity with the music he creates sits on him as perfectly as the Stetson that crowns his head.
I cannot heap enough laurels onto both Ian Noe and Colter Wall. My hope is that the tour and subsequent word of mouth will place them on the radar of enough people to make successive albums, and tours a must. If you can catch them out on the road, do so before the tour ends or, help support their music by visiting their respective websites for a cd or vinyl album.