Rab Noakes is a force to be reckoned with in the world of music in Scotland and beyond.
2016 has seen him continue to tour in support of ‘I’m walkin’ here’ and engage in a number of interesting collaborations.
2015 was eventful in unexpected ways and has not quite been the continuation to 2014 that was anticipated. The scheduled released of the Double CD ‘I’m walkin’ here’ in May was rescheduled to October.
The album features many new songs and interpretations. It has been cited in reviews and has attracted positive comment from audience and journalists alike.
Rab is hard to pin down in terms of influences. He is an accomplished songwriter whose songs reflect his lifelong interest in the popular song, in folk song and in songwriting. Alongside his acclaimed performance skills as applied to his own compositions his celebrated interpretations feature songs from sources as diverse as Elizabeth Cotten to Beck Hansen.
His professional life embraces such activities as media production. Rab is also elected to the Executive Committee of the Musicians’ Union so, at times, he’ll be representing the MU membership somewhere in the world.
In January 2015 Rab played a significant guest role in the prestigious Opening Concert at Celtic Connections, an orchestration of Martyn Bennett’s acclaimed ‘Grit’ album by Greg Lawson.
As far as previous recordings go 2014 saw the CD release of two albums plus one EP.
The 40th anniversary of ‘Red Pump Special’ was issued, along with ‘Demos and Rarities Vol2 – adventures with Gerry Rafferty’. The EP ‘Reunited’, a performance-based clutch of songs with Barbara Dickson, is also now available.
So, 2014 was busy and productive for Rab. A sold-out January concert at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections featured the whole of the 1974 album ‘Red Pump Special’ in the first half followed by selections from his newer songs in the second. This show was also delivered in a more stripped-down version in June.
Not to mention the creative collaborations. These include the ‘Reunited’ tour with Barbara Dickson. He has also been touring with acclaimed Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes with a variation on their ‘Love, Ballads and Murder’ show.
Rab’s first fully-professional engagements were in 1967. 50 years and over 20 albums later he remains a vital, popular, prolific and acclaimed songwriter and performer.
Constant highlights in his performing life have been a continually well-received series of solo shows plus the production of, and performance in, celebratory commemorative concerts on Gerry Rafferty and Michael Marra.
Rab’s first album ‘Do you see the lights?’ was released in 1970. Thirty years later in the year 2000 he, along with his wife Stephy, formed their own record label, Neon, and produced a couple of new releases. Before he and Stephy set up Neon in 1995 he spent an eight-year spell at the BBC where he produced music and entertainment shows radio in Manchester for Network Radio and subsequently headed the entertainment department at Radio Scotland. A formal job in that medium was appropriate as the radio had played a major part in Noakes’s creative development from an early age.
A relationship with Gerry Rafferty continued from the time Rab was a founder member of Stealers Wheel. He played guitar on one of Rafferty’s later albums, ‘Over my Head’.
During 2016 he can be found on tour solo, in collaboration with others and in his part as a singer and guitar-player in ‘Grit’ which will play at both WOMAD and Edinburgh International Festivals.
In May of 2017 Rab turns 70 and celebrates the 50th anniversary of his first properly-billed, paid gig. These landmarks will be celebrated throughout next year, across the country and beyond.
So, further into the 21st century you’ll most likely find Rab on the road, playing in a town near you, either solo or in one of his creative collaborations.
It’ll be some time yet until he stops making songs, TV and radio programmes or some other creative noise.