Noah Back seems to be making an impression on lots of people near and far, including Darke County.
What brought him here?
“Well I was about 16 years old I would say when I first stepped foot in The Coffee Pot on Broadway in downtown Greenville,” he recalled. “Out for the day with my then girlfriend, we had just stopped to grab a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, I was struck with the atmosphere and thought it would be a super groovy place to play.”
He went on, “I found my way to the office in the back where the owner/operator (now my old friend Rob) was poring over some behind-the-scenes coffee shop business. I got up my nerve to ask him about playing there and he was only too kind to give me a chance. I did a show there shortly after that and quite literally the rest is history. Word started getting around.”
Back said now he has played in nearly every venue in Darke County that provides live entertainment and at nearly every festival that the county produces.
“Darke County has been so wonderful to me and I am deeply, deeply grateful for that,” the musician said.
He said he began learning to play guitar when he was 11 years old.
“It was no time at all before I felt compelled to share what I was learning with those around me,” he said. “The following year, I played my first real performance to a crowd of 1,000 at a festival just outside Chicago. That certainly lit a fire in me and I haven’t stopped performing since.”
Back, who said he was born “out in the middle of what most people would call nowhere near Eaton, Ohio”,
said he is “midway through his 26th year on this earth.”
He has five siblings.
“The oldest being my sister Sara,” he said. “What with being the only girl and the oldest child, she was most certainly the princess growing up. After her comes Adam, who is one of my very best friends. Then Dave, who is a full-time Cowboy in Montana. Then there’s Nathan, Isaac and then, at the very bottom, there’s myself…the youngest and most certainly the runt of the litter. My parents, Mike and Gayle, are my two very biggest fans and have been nothing but the best mom and dad a kid with a crazy dream of singing for a living could ask for. They are the most encouraging, reinforcing, supporting uplifting pair I could have ever hoped to be blessed with.”
Back said his life-long dream is to be of service.
“To be a light. To bring joy. To help people remember the wonder, the magic, the incredible beauty that is life on this floating rock,” he went on to explain. “And when they can’t see the wonder, or fail to see the beauty to help them ‘forget about life for a while’. For now, music seems to be my avenue of accomplishing that dream. I don’t know that it will always be, but I’m sticking with it for now.”
Where is his work taking him?
“Man, I’m somewhere different every day,” he replied. “One day I’ll be playing at a coffee shop, the next day I’ll be at a festival, the next I’ll be at a nursing home, the next I’ll be at a bar, the next a private party, next I’ll be at a concert hall, a brewery….you name it. I’ve played just any set-up you can think of. As far as private parties I’ve done everything from weddings, graduation parties, anniversary parties, birthday parties, grand opening parties, summer parties, spring parties, fall parties, every kind of holiday party you can think of and then, of course, just party parties.”
He reported that the furthest he’s traveled to perform was a venue in downtown Helena in Montana.
“Aside from that, I’ve played the Carolinas many times as well as a number of performances in Georgia. I’m currently preparing to play in Missouri this coming weekend,” he said.
He said his followers can be found in all age groups across the board. In Darke County, it seems to be the older, female crowd.
“The demographic is very much true of my Darke County following in particular, but not wholly accurate of my following at large.
“As to why I couldn’t say,” he remarked. “But if I were to describe the people that follow me, words that come to mind are gracious, kind, generous and beautiful. They’ve given me so much of the time, their energy, their light, their love…I appreciate them so much and am extremely grateful for what they have shown me.”
The pandemic, he indicated, has had an effect on his entertainment business.
“In a very large way,” he went on to explain, “When things started heating up in early March 2020, I had 120 shows booked for the year and was booking more weekly. Covid wiped out 60 percent of those performances, but I was still able to play 40 percent and, for that, I was so-so thankful. A lot of people in my line of work didn’t play all year so I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been able to play even that many.”
When did he learn how to sing?
“I learned to sing in the shower and while riding my pony all around the fields that surround my childhood home, pretending to be my hero, Roy Rogers,” he said. “I knew pretty much after that first performance in Chicago that ‘this’ was for me. I don’t think it’s so much of a natural talent but more of a habit that I can’t seem to shake break. I have in my studio a picture hanging on the wall that says ‘How can I keep myself from singing?’ and I guess that just about sums it up.”
Does he want to be doing this forever?
“You know, we make plans while God laughs as the saying goes,” he stated. “I sort of adopted a way of thinking a number of years ago that goes, ‘no plan is the best kind of plan’. So I reckon I’ll do this for as long as it feels right.”
He’s a one-man band.
“Yes that is correct,” he commented. “Just me and my two band mates, myself and I. As you can imagine, with such a wide range of venues and events comes a wide range of performance times. I’ve played as little as one song (three minutes) to as much as eight hours at a time…just depends on what the occasion calls for. And set-up is always done by just me as well.”
He performed a duet at the gazebo at the Great Darke County Fair this year with none other than his father.
“Oh yes, that was so much fun,” he said. “It was a one-time thing apart from an impromptu song we did together one other time. I wouldn’t say my family is musical so much as my parents. My mother is an excellent pianist and my father a superb vocalist.”
Is he a bachelor?
“I would say I’m happily single,” he said. “But that would be an understatement. I am gleefully single.”
Who has influenced him with his music?
“Well top of the list would most certainly be Elvis Presley and John Denver,” he replied. “They had a tremendous impact on me early on as they still do.”
He continued, “When it comes to genre, I keep it mixed up and extremely varied. My specialty is having no specialty.
So at one single performance you might hear tunes from pop music, country, big band, rock ‘n roll, Gospel, alternative rock, reggae and folk and more. With knowing eight hours of music and loving music in general so much you can imagine I’m sure it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love songs for different reasons and in different seasons. One favorite that’s really stuck with me is ‘Gentle On My Mind’ made famous by Glen Campbell. Both musically and poetically, I believe it’s a work of art and never ceases to move me. As far as my favorite type of music that depends and changes completely on my mood.”
Many times he is seen performing barefooted.
“It’s not so much about performing barefoot as it is about lifestyle,” he remarked. “See, I am typically always barefoot whenever there’s not a ton of snow on the ground. So performing that way is just an extension of that. It’s not as if I take my shoes off every time I step on stage, it’s more like perhaps I haven’t had anything on my feet in many many days leading up to that performance. Aside from detesting shoes just due to their very nature, I believe in the power and science of grounding/earthing (having your bare feet in contact with the earth to facilitate the dissipation of the EMF our bodies are wrapped in in this modern world).”
Admirers have Noah’s ‘back’
Some of the local followers of Noah Back include a group of local women, one of which is Roberta Crawford.
“Besides me, are Pat McCarthy (she drives her van which she calls the ‘Noahmobile’ to his events), and the following ladies who ride with her: Kay McCarthy Reall (Pat’s sister), Linda Cook Hall, Kay Mueller, Jane Weimer Washler and Susan Beisner,” reported Crawford. “A couple of others who live in Greenville are Connie Grove and Chris Williams-Everhart.”
Crawford said she has known Back for four years.
“I discovered him in the gazebo at the fair in 2017, was instantly hooked, and have been following him ever since,” she said. “I try to get to as many events as possible, and my husband, Phil, often goes with me. We have been to two Hippie Fests to see him (Dawsonville, Ga., in March 2020 and Hocking Hills, Ohio, earlier this month. Noah is one of a kind, the most talented, kind, and caring person I have ever met. He lives in West Alexandria, as do his parents. He was home-schooled and is the youngest of six children. We also went to see him when he was singing at City Market in Charleston, S.C., a couple of years ago.”
She concluded, “One amazing thing about him is that he does not read music. He plays guitar, keyboard, harmonica and he yodels! Noah sings in many venues, but some of his favorites are nursing homes and assisted living facilities. He is SO GOOD with the residents, and they love him!”
Nancy Kelley Eardly of Troy is also another “groupie.”
“He is a very talented and awesome young man,” she said. “He sings songs from the 40s on up to the present. He is very humble, spiritual, kind and considerate of everyone’s feelings. He gives 100-plus percent at his performances. I give credit to his parents, Mike and Gayle, for raising such a fine young gentleman.”