Good evening everyone, I’m Dr. Bob, and welcome to the first episode of The Fireside Interviews with Nicole Noel and Chance Meyer. Each week, for the next four weeks, I’ll be bringing you thought provoking answers to insightful questions about these two talented and energetic artists, in anticipation of their upcoming concert at Your Big Picture Cafe on Friday, February 7th, 2014 (8pm to 11pm, free admission). For further information about this much anticipated and exciting event, please visit:
But for now, pour yourself a cup of tea, pull your chair up close to the fire, then sit back and enjoy The Fireside Interviews with Nicole Noel and Chance Meyer – Part 1 of 4.
Which instrument(s) do you play?
Chance: I play guitar and harmonica. I can make music-suggestive noises with a lot of instruments, especially stringed ones, but none I’d expect an audience to abide. I really have no technical understanding of music, though I’ve picked up some terminology from Nic, who has some choral training and grew up playing all sorts of wind instruments. So on both guitar and harmonica my playing is I guess sort of raw, even sloppy, but Nic seems to think it’s a good thing that it comes from a place of just joy for music, rather than a more rigid, rules-based sort of place. Which sounds a lot better than saying I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m going with that.
Is your family musical? If so, describe their musical interests and abilities.
Nicole: I grew up in a house filled with music and musicians. My father was a jazz musician, and the guys would often come to our house to jam. My mother would sometimes take me to the club to hear him play. She would spend hours getting dressed and putting on her makeup, and I would get to dress up fancy too. We’d sweep out of the house in this cloud of Shalimar and then my mom’s high heels would click down the driveway. When we got to the club, my mom would order me a Shirley Temple, and I’d pretend I was one of the grown-ups for the evening, sticking my pinkie finger out while I sipped my soda. I loved the nightclubs. I loved the haze of smoke, the smell of gin and champagne, the low conversation, glasses clinking, laughter, applause. The whole thing. And best of all, my dad’s voice just dominating the room, all captivating and mysterious. He played piano and bass too, so sometimes he’d play solo piano gigs. Other times he’d play piano or bass with a trio. He was good at all of it, but his voice was really his greatest strength. Although he made his living as a musician his whole life, he never had any formal training and he couldn’t read music, like Chance. He played strictly by ear, which just blows my mind. And Chance coming from a family with no musicians in it, he sort of did the same, just discovering the instrument on his own.
When did you start singing and why?
Nicole: I never really thought of myself as a singer. My dad was a singer. I was an instrumentalist who sang a bit. After high school, I sang in college choirs since there weren’t as many opportunities to play. When I was about 19, I started singing with my dad. I was terrified at first, since I had only sung classical music. But my dad taught me how to interpret a song, and I learned to take liberties with rhythm and time and melody. Eventually, the metronome in my head quieted down. I sang in clubs for a while, but stopped when I started acting. Theater took over my life for several years until I went to law school, when I turned back to choral singing. After I graduated, my husband and I moved here from Boston and I didn’t sing at all for several years. Then I met Chance, who gave me my voice back. Actually, because of him, I found a voice I didn’t know I had.
What was the first tune you learned?
Chance: Well, I have two answers to this. The really truthful answer is embarrassing but I’ll tell you anyway. The first tune I learned was actually one I wrote when I was seven called “Shout it Out.” I wrote it using only the bottom string of my guitar and then sang it for my mother. It had to do with responding to the very serious life difficulties that seven-year-olds face in small town Arkansas. But then I got my hands on Bob Dylan’s early acoustic albums and listened to them so many times that I knew by heart the exact shape and feel of every blip of sound on those records. And since I knew them so well, eventually I figured out I could recreate them myself by putting the chords together one note at a time and then thinking about which finger it made sense to use for which string. So I sort of stumbled into it by accident just because I was so familiar with Dylan’s chording. But I just could not even believe that I could create the same sounds as the ones on those records. It was too much. And that was probably one of the greatest discoveries of my life, because after that I just learned everything I could and somewhere along the way became something approximating a musician. But the first real song I learned with that technique was, of course, Blowing in the Wind, which was substantially better than Shout It Out and way more fun to sing.
That concludes this evenings presentation of The Fireside Interviews with Nicole Noel and Chance Meyer, and we thank you for spending this time together. We hope you enjoyed tonight’s show and that you will join us again next week for The Fireside Interviews with Nicole Noel and Chance Meyer – Part 2 of 4.