BY RL REEVES JR
“I’m a cocaine addict,” the young music fan standing next to me asserts, before asking, “I don’t reckon you know where I can get some do you?”
“I swore off the Devil’s Dandruff before you were born,” I joke to the young man who’s approached me at the Burl, as I explain to him that I’m just up from New Orleans to see Ian Noe, and am not savvy as to Lexington’s underground narcotics scene.
“Well, if you come across any, I’ll buy you a cold Miller if you can hook me up.”
You run into all kinds when you’re seeing the current crop of young guns out on tour doing what Neil Young was back in the early 70s.
Ian Noe’s from Beattyville, Kentucky just 60 miles up the road from the Billy Holler where I was born.
So’s Ricky Don.
The plumber in the worn Harley t-shirt is buddies with Ian’s daddy Joey, and he’s brought a small crew from Lee and Owsley Counties to see Joey’s kid play at The Burl in Lexington.
They’ve all been watching him since he was 15, when he was still playing backyard pig roasts and beer blasts along the Kentucky River.
A few of them claim that his daddy is a better musician than young Ian, but others say that’s plain nonsense..
I’d believe the nonsense camp after watching the younger Noe send a hot charge through the room by opening with “Go Rest Easy,” the best song on his new album.
He may have led off with it to keep people from begging throughout the show.
The next hour sounds like a 50 year old music-man rolling through a greatest hits set. Noe might as well have been a young Townes Van Zandt playing at Soap Creek Saloon in Austin in ‘84. You could almost taste the Pearl beer and smell the Panama Red.
After a blistering set, I retire to the outdoor fire pit where the Lee County regulars are agog at their young countryman’s performance.
“I shore hope he don’t get too big for his britches” one of them says of Noe’s apparent impending stardom.
Another surmises that he’s already too big to play Beattyville’s Woolly Worm Festival coming up in a few months.
Talk turns to Between The Country, Noe’s debut record. “Hell, it ain’t his first one,” one man exclaims. “I’ve got an old CD at the house somewhere if I could lay my hands on it.”
If it exists, “it’ll certainly be a collector’s item one day,” I offer.
He chuckles and his face turns crafty with the possibilities, “Might get rich off of it on Ebay”
The young dope fiend shows back up.
“I’m a free born man!” he yells to no one in particular as he quick trots towards the bathroom.
A freight train lumbers across the railroad tracks that run parallel to The Burl. For a few minutes the crowd is trapped, cut off from the rest of the world, til the engineer sees fit to keep moving.
I wonder if young Ian felt that way growing up in Lee County, Kentucky?
Ian Noe at the Burl was part of the Road to Railbird Series. Noe will perform Saturday August 10 at Lexington’s inaugural Railbird Festival on the grounds at Keeneland.
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