Songwriter Stockdale making a difference with PCHS Green Team

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, April 10, 2008

&bsp; Gail Stockdale approached me at a community chorus rehearsal with a CD in hand and mentioned that her son was playing a concert at Rogers Park for a special Earth Day event. She asked me to please listen to his music and let her know if I might have the time to write about him before the event. Wary of a &dquo;Mom CD,&dquo; having made a few that my mother loves and I can&squo;t stand to listen to anymore, I cautiously accepted and gave her my contact information to pass along to her son Noah.

My worry quickly turned to relief as I listened to the first song &dquo;College Radio&dquo; on the CD. It was well recorded and well crafted original music that I could easily imagine fitting into the rotation mix at WNCW. While the songs have an audience pleasing familiarity to them, the guitar and vocals are flavorful and rich conveying a wisdom I did not expect from a teenage songwriter. To label him &dquo;folk&dquo; would be a misleading because there is a definitive rhythm and punch that is more akin to the &dquo;alternative&dquo; sound in his style. In short he&squo;s a storyteller that will wake you up to listen.

When I finally got a phone call from Noah I dropped what I was doing to stop and ask him a few questions about the upcoming concert.

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So what is this event on Saturday afternoon?

We&squo;re calling it Earth Day and it&squo;s an event to raise community awareness about recycling. We have a new club at the high school. People are worried about global warming and we want to share information about the options to make a difference. Our focus right now is recycling and showing people where to go and what to recycle.

Who is sponsoring the event? Is it a student or teacher run group?

Polk County High School Green Team is sponsoring the event. The teachers help, but it&squo;s mostly student run. I had heard an announcement at school about it and then Liz Willis and some other good friends encouraged me to get involved.

What did the club start out doing?

We are running a recycling program at the high school. We started out by simply taking cardboard boxes and writing &dquo;recycling&dquo; on them. We distributed them and then eventually upgraded to the green bins. So our focus has been in the school.

How did your club decide to put on a concert?

We were going to take a power point to the middle and elementary schools to get kids revved about recycling. I volunteered to play a song, Jack Johnson&squo;s &dquo;Reduce, Reuse, Recycle&dquo; to fill time. I left the meeting and went to pick up my little brother at the middle school. As I was stopped, a teacher walked up to me and said, &dquo;Hey, I think the concert would be a great idea.&dquo;

So in that short space of time the one song you had volunteered to do became a whole concert?

Yeah, it worked like that, but it&squo;s good this way because we can reach a wider audience.

When did you start playing?

I was inspired at twelve by a Dispatch song called &dquo;The General.&dquo; I knew I needed to
find a guitar and find my voice and play that for people. It just took off from there.

How long did it take you to get a guitar after that?

Maybe a month or two. For my next birthday my dad bought me a guitar.

Then what did you do to learn it?

My dad found me a guitar teacher, Mark in Alabama. That&squo;s where we were living.

What kept you working on it?

There&squo;s something special when you listen to a song, but when you learn to sing and play it, you take a little bit of ownership to the song. It&squo;s like a little bit of it becomes your property. I enjoy playing them for people and just for my own satisfaction.

What&squo;s the first song you could play?

&dquo;Run Around&dquo; by Blues Traveler. I learned the four chords and could play it.

What&squo;s your favorite song you&squo;ve learned now?

Hmm, that&squo;s tough, they al kind of sit at the same level.

Then if you were asked to play a song by somebody else right now, what would it be?

&dquo;1979&dquo; by Smashing Pumpkins.

When did you start writing?

I joined, or made a punk rock band and wrote about politics and teenage stuff like not having a car. That was in St. Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis, Alabama? Where all have you lived?

Florida, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, and Missouri, I think that&squo;s all.

How did you end up here?

My dad wanted to retire here.

What do you think about finishing high school here?

I wouldn&squo;t want to be any other place. We lived here when I was three and it feels like home. This is where I&squo;m supposed to be.

What year are you in school?

I&squo;m a Senior and will graduate in 2008.

Then what?

I&squo;m going to UNCA to major in English to teach English.

Do you think you&squo;ll put together a band again?

In Asheville I may work in a band again, but until then I&squo;m just working solo.

So will you be playing the songs from the CD your mom gave me on Saturday?

You got the Mom CD? &dquo;College Radio&dquo; and &dquo;Mountain Man,&dquo; I think most of them.

Catch Noah Stockdale and the Polk County High School Green Team this Saturday from 2-6 p.m. at Rogers Park. In addition to Noah&squo;s soulful and vibrant original guitar and vocals from 4-4:45 p.m. there will be music from local professionals Phil & Gaye Johnson, Ian Harrod & Louis Elliot, and the Lone Derangers. Be sure to bring the whole family and let the kids enjoy the Creation Stations which include bird feeders, planters, face painting, stepping stones, chalk drawing, and coloring activities.