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22-year-old singer Noah G. Fowler writes songs inspired by rural Pennsylvania roots | Family

CAPON BRIDGE, W.Va. — Synchronicity: The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear to be significantly related but have no discernable causal connection.

I had made an unexpected trip to West Virginia for a friend’s funeral and found myself on the banks of the Cacapon River, playing guitar for two people I had met at the service. We were behind The River House, a non-profit arts and music cafe that is the beating heart of the local creative community. A young man was setting up to play that night, and I showed up. His name was Noah G. Fowler, he was from Carlisle, Pennsylvania (now living in Nashville), and he looked like he was in his twenties. I promised to come back for his show.

Fowler works as a session musician in Nashville and tours tirelessly, trying to break through as a solo artist. Listening to his original music, choice of covers and stage banter, I was struck by his keen sense of music – he attended Berkeley College of Music, and his influences include Doc Watson, Tony Rice and David Grier – and its extensive catalog of classic country melodies. But what stood out to me most about this young man, as it turns out he was 22, was the depth of thoughtful wisdom conveyed in original songs that were largely inspired by his Pennsylvania roots.

Noah G. Fowler took the show inside the River House at WV after rain threatened the crowd outside.

“When I ran into Robert Plant in the hallwayI knew I wasn’t in Carlisle anymore,” he told the audience that night when explaining his fish-out-of-water experience in Music City, USA.

After the show, we exchanged contact detailsion. Noah said he was staying with his parents in Carlisle while touring the Northeast, so I invited him to my house in Berks County for an interview and maybe, I thought, a little jamming.

I specifically wanted to ask him about a song he had performed about the struggles of a young Amish in the English world called “Josiah’s Song”, and another titled “Ballad of Centraliain which he seemed to have insider historical knowledge of the Pennsylvania mining town that burned down in perpetuity.

As Fowler settled into a comfortable chair, I asked him about his age in relation to his musical tastes as well as comments he had made on stage regarding the general banality of modern country music.

“I don’t necessarily have anything against it, because it’s the same industry that’s been in Nashville for a long time, whHere you have the room of writers who are like some of the best writers around, and they write what people want to hear.

Music tastes have become distorted and homogenized with the rise of internet streaming and the monopolization of radio networks, he said. “They’re writing to a very specific audience that, in a weird way, isn’t necessarily representative of what the country music tradition is.

“I don’t think current country music and the way it’s created is in the same tradition as, like, Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard…if you listen to country music radio now, all the songs are on, like, ‘It’s summer and it’s summer and it’s summer and it’s summer and have a beer’, you know?

“And this is a perfect opportunity for product endorsement. Speaking of product endorsement, there’s this song that was, like, “Fancy like Applebee’s” (laughs). Did you hear that one?

The Carlisle Child

Reminiscent of a young Wendell Berry with a guitar, Fowler writes and sings about the place he knows. His material comes from his own life experiences, his research and the imagination of an artist.

When a deeply religious college roommate reported a group of Fowler’s friends for underage drinking on campus, thinking he was doing the right thing, was predictably ostracized, then showed up months later, visibly drunk where Fowler and his friends were playing, that imagination kicked into gear.

“I think ‘Josiah’s Song’ was the first one I wrote that was, like, a song from Pennsylvania,” he said, recalling the thought process of writing it.

“He seemed almost Amish in his religious views and how he was very by the books, and then one day he just tripped super drunk. And so this thought like, “He’s almost Amish” made me think, “Oh, that would be a great story for a song if I wrote a song about an Amish kid at a college party who’s totally out of his element”. And so I started writing ‘Josiah’s Song’.”

Watch Noah G. Fowler perform “Josiah’s Song” below.

Ultimately, Fowler said, listeners will apply their own life experiences and ideology to the material. “So it can be a song about trying something new or coming from that kind of background and going to a place where things are different. I think ultimately, for me, what makes this song good…and why I keep playing it is this change and character development.

This note is for grandma

“For ‘Ballad of Centralia’, I always start by talking about my grandmother. She grew up in Girardville, Schuylkill County.

Born in the late 1940s and living in the Pennsylvania coal country in the 1950s and early 1960s, Fowler said, “She still considers her heritage to be very Irish and very much tied to the Molly Maguires story. His grandfather lost his leg in a coal mine.

Fowler’s grandmother wanted him to praise the secret society and the champion of workers’ rights in the song, he said, but nothing grabbed him that sounded original.

“I was writing a separate song about Centralia, and doing some research…when I came across the story of Ignatius McDermott, who was the priest from Philadelphia who was sent to get names for the mining companies.”

At the time, Fowler said, the Molly Maguires enjoyed a strong membership, were active in Centralia, and had recently assassinated the town’s mayor.

“So this priest came in to try to talk Catholic Church members out of joining the Molly Maguires and getting names,” Fowler said. “He ended up getting roughed up and kicked out of town…He then cast a spell over the town, told the story, and said that ‘For this horrible offense of assaulting you on a cloth man, any this city is going to burn in hell.’”

All that would be left standing, the priest asserted, said Fowler, was the Catholic Church.

The city caught fire underground in 1962, spreading from an open pit mine, and is still burning. Shortly after a 1981 incident that captured national attention when the ground caved in and a child dove to the brink of death — saved only by clinging to an exposed tree root — the Congress funded a citizen relocation program.

“I forget how many buildings are left, and one of them is the Catholic Church,” Fowler said. “And I thought, ‘This story, all I’ll have to do is put a few chords under it, because it sort of tells itself. “”

Since the spring, Fowler has toured mostly venues on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Georgia, including New York’s famed Jalopy Theater. He spent much of June touring Colorado with his good friend Erinn Peet Lukes, who was a member of popular bluegrass band Fire and Rain and now also lives in Nashville. Check Out Noah G. Fowler’s Upcoming Tour Dates here.