Joe Nolan
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Joe Nolan

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Young folk singer's old soul garnering attention
Nolan's wise lyrics and intricate guitar playing have made him a Folk Fest favourite
Francois Marchand, Freelance
Published: Wednesday, October 08
JOE NOLAN
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: Riverdale Community Hall, 9231 100th Ave.

Local folk singer Joe Nolan
John Lucas/Edmonton Journal


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Tickets: $15 at Tix on the Square, Megatunes and at the door
- - -
EDMONTON - By the end of this year's Folk Fest, everyone knew Joe Nolan's name.
The young folk singer-songwriter had turned more than a few heads with a stunning performance on the "under 20" stage, and roots magazine Penguin Eggs even named Nolan one of the top three singer-songwriters of the renowned four-day event.
"I guess it kinda helped get my name noticed a little bit more, which was great," the 18-year-old casually says.
Relatively unknown to most until then, Nolan suddenly found himself chatting with some of the big players on the national music scene.
"Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene was talking to me. He was pretty funny. He was calling me the '$500 kid.' I don't know -- he's kind of a wacky guy."
Nolan laughs. "Just to be picked, I think it helped me in a lot of ways," he adds. "It kinda helped me realize, 'OK, maybe I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.' "
Hailing from Fort Saskatchewan, Nolan began writing songs at an early age. By the time he was 16, Nolan was already a seasoned performer with a knack for intricate guitar playing and timeless lyrics.
Influences are obvious and readily admitted: Neil Young, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good -- Nolan learned from them all.
"When I listen to them, they can connect and they're just great songwriters," he says. "Neil Young is a huge influence and inspiration -- he's just so real and honest and vulnerable. I really look up to him."
Nolan's debut album, Pocket Dreams, will have many wondering how a youngster like him could manage to write such stunning pieces -- from protest songs to weary ballads.
Produced by Jann Arden bassist Mike Lent, the album is alive with wit and wisdom, filled with strong statements about the world that surrounds Nolan and the people that inhabit it.
"I guess it's just who I am and what comes out of me when I write songs," he says.
"I guess there's something special about the solo thing. It's just neat to write songs and share your thoughts with the listeners."
Some will argue Nolan may be far too young and inexperienced to feel the weight of the world the same way older veterans do.
Listening to Nolan, however, you can't help but feel there may actually be an older veteran's soul trapped in this young man's body.
It would probably explain why Nolan has decided to bypass university and is now focusing solely on his music.
"Everybody has their own story," says Nolan, who graduated from high school last June. "Music's my thing. I guess sometimes it's kinda lonely, but it's not something that upsets me.
"A lot of kids my age are into sports or going to school or doing other things.
I think I think differently than quite a few kids my age."
- - -
I LISTEN TO JOE
Get acquainted with Joe Nolan's folk magic and listen to two songs from his debut album, Pocket Dreams, in this week's Soundcheck Podcast at edmontonjournal.com/podcasts.


© The Edmonton Journal 2008 - Francois Marchand, Freelance (the edmonton journal)


MUSIC
JOE NOLAN
SINGER-SONGWRITER DREAMS BIG
BRYAN BIRTLES / bryan@vueweekly.com

For young singer-songwriter Joe Nolan, the accolades and opportunities just keep piling up. The 18-year-old performed as a part of the U-22 showcase at Folk Fest, has appeared at local coffee shops and bars and on television, won the CBC Galaxie Rising Star award and is about to release his very first CD, entitled Pocket Dreams. Produced by Mike Lent, who backed up Jann Arden on the bass for a number of years, the CD is being released at a show at Riverdale Hall this weekend.

Growing up in a household that always had music around, Nolan picked up the guitar at 12 or 13 by his own recollection and, inspired by his parents’ record collection, began writing his own songs. By 16 he was making the rounds at open stages and coffee houses before becoming a regular with the U-22 program run by Rhea March which groups together other young up and coming performers for gigs and networking.

“I don’t really have a choice, it’s what I have to do—it just comes out of me,” Nolan says of writing songs and performing. “My dad’s been playing guitar since I was born and he showed me a few things, and there were always old records of Neil Young and Tom Waits. Those guys are huge influences on me, those old guys are great songwriters.”

Making the album turned out to be a nerve wracking experience at first for Nolan, who describes himself as “pretty shy.” Working with Lent and a handful of professional musicians was daunting, but once he got into the swing of things it became easier for him.

“I was quite fortunate to work with [Lent] and the other musicians—they’re so talented. It was quite an experience, a huge learning experience,” he says. “At first I was kind of intimidated to work with them, but then I decided that while I was there, I might as well do it. They just took the song, listened to it and recorded it within two takes; it was pretty cool.”

The show this weekend at Riverdale Hall should be a much more intimate affair than Nolan’s gig on the mainstage at Folk Fest where he performed for a hill full of thousands of people. Although it might seem an odd thing to do for someone who describes himself as shy, Nolan got over any trepidation quickly thanks in part to the audience.

“That was just insane, it was definitely a highlight of the summer,” he says of the experience. “Just to be playing there was a dream of mine, and it was awesome because the hill was full to the back fence and the crowd was really receptive. It couldn’t have gone better.” V
- BRYAN BIRTLES (vue weekly)


Fort Saskatchewan singer/songwriter Joe Nolan is celebrating the release of his CD “Pocket Dreams” with a party in Edmonton on Saturday.

Nolan made his debut at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this summer where he received the Galaxy Rising Star Award.

He has shared the stage with such names as Kim Mitchell, Sean Ashby and Bill Bourne.

This fall, he is scheduled to open shows for Ellen McIlwaine, Garnet Rogers and Barney Bentall.

“Pocket Dreams” was produced by Jann Arden’s bass player, Mike Lent. The CD has earned airplay on both CKUA and CBC Radio.

Sound clips are available on Nolan’s website at www.myspace.com/joenolanband.

Nolan’s CD release party takes place at Riverdale Community Hall on Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. and Nolan performs at 8 p.m.

• Record Staff - Record Staff



Eighteen-year-old Joe Nolan is the feature performer of the next Medicine Hat Folk Music Club singer-songwriter night this Friday.
The Fort Saskatchewan musician said he first started playing guitar when he was 11 years old and was writing lyrics by the time he was 12. By the time he turned 16, Nolan started performing on stage “seriously,” he said.
“I just started pouring myself into the Edmonton scene – going out on school nights, four nights a week to open stages.”
His debut album, Pocket Dreams, was produced by Jann Arden’s bass player, Mike Lent.
“I was kind of intimidated at first to be working with (Lent), because he brought in Jann’s guitar player and drummer. It was great. They listened to my songs once and then they could just record them in two takes. It was crazy,” Nolan said.
He said he plans on recording a new “live style” album in May because he has written way too many new songs.
“That’s a good problem, I guess,” he said.
Nolan will be performing throughout Alberta over the next week and is touring the western Canadian folk festival circuit in the summer of 2009.
Catch Joe Nolan and many other local singer-songwriters on Friday April 17 at the Prickly Pear Cafe, located at 519 2nd Street South East.
Any singer-songwriter interested in performing can sign up at the Prickly Pear Cafe before the show. The performance kicks off at 8 p.m. and admission costs $5. - Zoe Szuch


Young Joe Nolan didn't fool around when launching his career as a singer-songwriter. All of 18, he went whole hog in recording his first CD, enlisting producer Mike Lent, the former bassist with K.D. Lang and Jann Arden, as well as guitarist Russell Broom and drummer Lyle Moltzan.
It paid off. The result is a very pleasant, dreamy showcase for Nolan's whispery voice and melodic tunes. He is also a promising acoustic guitar player, contributing an instrumental called "The Blue Chair", named after one of the better musical venues in Nolan's Edmonton hometown.
His simple, serious introspective lyrics, observations of the moment, are suitable for his age. My favorite is "Saturday Night", a description of wasting time at 4 a.m. while his grandfather smiles from a picture on the wall. He's even got a protest song: "This Worlds Half Asleep". The melancholy quotient is high on the disc. Nolan shows a lot of promise, and hopefully he'll find a little humour in this world in future outings. - Mike Sadava


While Most people his age spend the summer after high school working at a fast food joint or sweating it out in menial labour, Joe Nolan was busy advancing his career as a singer/songwriter.
An appearance before thousands on a packed hillside at the 2008 Edmonton Folk Music Festival led to Nolan being named a Galaxy Rising Star, putting him in the esteemed company of Little Miss Higgins and Ridley Bent. By the end of the summer he was finishing off his introspective CD, (Pocket Dreams). This winter he spent a month in Toronto, talking to well-known music publicist Richard Flohil about possible representation, and the kid from Fort Saskatchewan, AB, is currently pondering a move to the Big Smoke.
At this rate he won't be Joe Who any longer by the time he's 19. "It's kind of abnormal to move to Toronto for music when your 18, but you have to give it a shot while your young", says Nolan.
With a voice a bit reminiscent if David Bowie's, enough fingerpicking skill to execute instrumentals, and lyrics that resonate with the angst and energy of youth, Nolan's career has received support from the likes of U22 den mother Rhea March and Holger Petersen, founder of Stony Plain Records.
He hasn't thought of a career other than music for years. "I feel I don't have a choice - music is what I have to do." He's willing to sacrifice to live his dream. His month of checking out Toronto was spent at a sketchy downtown Toronto hostel, full of druggies, criminals and other characters that will doubtless find their way into his songs.
A self-described shy kid, Nolan started playing Neil Young and Bob Dylan songs on guitar when he was 12, and performed at school starting in grade 9. He's basically self-taught, but got some help from Bill Bourne with his technique. Pretty soon he got into busking at Edmonton-area farmers markets, where he earned enough money to buy a Collings guitar.
As far as writing goes, he started when he was about 8 years old,
writing songs in his head long before he learned to play guitar. And that's where he still writes - in his head.
He has never written down a single word of his songs. With enough repetition, and with a memory that only an 18-year-old can possess, Nolan has another 30 songs he'd like to record, all in his head. - Mike Sadava



CKUA NEWSLETTER
Scenes From the Library Every month in the CKUA Library we receive CDs from all sorts of different sources, from mainstream labels to Indie groups. In this new CKUA Library section of the Newsletter, every month we’ll highlight new CDs considered to be undiscovered gems of the Alberta music scene. Artist: Joe Nolan Album: Pocket Dreams Citing his band members as "guitar" and his influences as being "the wind" on his Myspace page, 18 year old Fort Saskatchewan based singer-songwriter Joe Nolan has been causing a stir in the local music community. At this year's Edmonton Folk Music Festival, he performed as part of CKUA's U-22 line-up, and was one of three musicians to be presented with The Galaxy Rising Star Award by the Festival. Among Nolan's list of amazing credits, he has helped open for the Canadian rocker, Kim Mitchell, as well as Sarah McLachlan's guitar player, Sean Ashby, and has played with local legend Bill Bourne. Nolan's music, which he says is inspired by Tom Waits, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, can sometimes sound wise, mellow, and disenfranchised like Elliott Smith or he can sing a gentle narrative in the spirit of Ron Sexsmith or Bruce Cockburn. Like many of the U-22 crowd, Nolan seems to have lived more than his eighteen years to have been able to write the songs that he does. His song "I Rode a Bike Down A Road", for example, is full of wondering youthful questioning, with dreamy, floating music that builds to a more urgent, raw and scratchy singing of the words "where am I?" His song "This World’s Half Asleep", on the other hand, reflects Nolan’s more sobering, less innocent take on a less-than-perfect world with him singing that "innocence won’t save your life". Nolan has just completed recording his debut CD called Pocket Dreams, which was produced by Jann Arden’s bass player, Mike Lent. Nolan will be playing at The Haven Social Club on October 10th, opening for slide guitar legend Ellen McIlwaine. To contact Joe, or to buy his new CD: myspace.com/joenolanband - Monica Chataway


Discography

(Pocket Dreams) 2008, yes all tracks are receiving radio airplay on stations such as CBC, CKUA and many college stations across Canada.

Photos

Bio

While Most people his age spend the summer after high school working at a fast food joint or sweating it out in menial labour, Joe Nolan was busy advancing his career as a singer/songwriter.
An appearance before thousands on a packed hillside at the 2008 Edmonton Folk Music Festival led to Nolan being named a Galaxy Rising Star, putting him in the esteemed company of Little Miss Higgins and Ridley Bent. By the end of the summer he was finishing off his introspective CD, (Pocket Dreams) produced by Jann Arden's former bassist, Mike Lent. This winter he spent a month in Toronto, talking to well-known music publicist Richard Flohil about possible representation, and the kid from Fort Saskatchewan, AB, is currently pondering a move to the Big Smoke.
At this rate he won't be Joe Who any longer by the time he's 19. "It's kind of abnormal to move to Toronto for music when your 18, but you have to give it a shot while your young", says Nolan.
With a voice a bit reminiscent if David Bowie's, enough fingerpicking skill to execute instrumentals, and lyrics that resonate with the angst and energy of youth, Nolan's career has received support from the likes of U22 den mother Rhea March and Holger Petersen, founder of Stony Plain Records. Nolan is also receiving regular radio airplay on stations including CKUA, CBC as well as several other Canadian campus stations.
He hasn't thought of a career other than music for years. "I feel I don't have a choice - music is what I have to do." He's willing to sacrifice to live his dream. His month of checking out Toronto was spent at a sketchy downtown Toronto hostel, full of druggies, criminals and other characters that will doubtless find their way into his songs.
A self-described shy kid, Nolan started playing Neil Young and Bob Dylan songs on guitar when he was 12, and performed at school starting in grade 9. He's basically self-taught, but got some help from Bill Bourne with his technique. Pretty soon he got into busking at Edmonton-area farmers markets, where he earned enough money to buy a Collings guitar.
As far as writing goes, he started when he was about 8 years old,
writing songs in his head long before he learned to play guitar. And that's where he still writes - in his head.
He has never written down a single word of his songs. With enough repetition, and with a memory that only an 18-year-old can possess, Nolan has another 30 songs he'd like to record, all in his head.

- Penguin Eggs Magazine 2008, Mike Sadava

www.myspace.com/joenolanband
www.joenolanmusic.com
joenolanmusic@hotmail.com
(780) 267 0690