Bassist Noah Young is one of my New Orleans friends that I cannot remember meeting (you know, the New Orleans way). I do however, remember seeing him play with his band Naughty Professor countless times whilst shooting photos at whatever shows I could get my hands on. They were one of the first homegrown New Orleans bands that I actually understood as a jazz newbie and when I found out that Noah had begun to put a group of his own together (with some of the most talented musicians in town, might I add), I photographed their next three shows just to get in the room. Fast forward a year and Noah and I found ourselves on the road together where I got the chance to ask him more about his music and what’s to come.
KS: When did you start playing music?
NY: I started playing drums in middle school around the age of 10. When I was 12 I got my first bass.
KS: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in New Orleans?
NY: I grew up in rural Vermont in a town of about 1000 people. I moved to New Orleans to study music at Loyola University when I was 19. I only stayed at Loyola for a year and a half, but I’ve been in New Orleans for eight years and counting.
KS: Describe your music.
NY: I guess I would call it jazz/funk/fusion. I like to write songs based around a simple idea or bassline, and leave lots of room for the musicians in my band to put their own personality into the music. The current lineup for my band is trumpet, saxophone, keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. But I also play gigs as a trio with just keyboards, bass, and drums.
KS: What has been your favorite performance experience in New Orleans thus far?
NY: It’s hard to top playing at Jazz Fest. I’ve been fortunate enough to play there with two original groups I’m involved with: Naughty Professor and Mykia Jovan. I hope to bring my own band to Jazz Fest someday.
KS: Which New Orleans musicians most inspire you?
NY: There are so many! As far as bass players go I would have to say: Chris Severin, Donald Ramsey, James Singleton, DJ Raymond, and Pat Casey. I should really be taking lessons from all of those guys…
KS: Favorite place to catch live music in NOLA?
NY: For the last few years it’s been the Maple Leaf for me. I love going to see George Porter Jr. and his trio play there on Monday nights. I used to hang on Frenchmen a lot, but as it has gotten more touristy and I’ve gotten older I find myself doing so less and less.
KS: What do you love most about this city?
NY: The people, the food, the music. I particularly like how inclusive and non-competitive the music scene is. When I first started playing out around town most people I met were very supportive even though I was young and inexperienced.
KS: What is your favorite non-musical activity to do in New Orleans?
NY: I’ve always enjoyed riding my bike around the city. Also, in the last few years me and some of my friends have been playing tennis which is really fun.
KS: Favorite food to eat in NOLA?
NY: Banh Mi!! There are so many good spots to get them: Eat Well, Mint Modern, Pho Bistreaux, Lily’s Cafe, Namese, Papa Kitchen, even the Frenchmen Street Deli.
KS: When is your next performance in New Orleans?
NY: I’m playing Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11 p.m. at Les Bon Temps.
KS: Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself in regards to your music?
NY: Mostly I just want to keep doing more of the same: playing in New Orleans and growing my original projects. Eventually I’d like to do some traveling with my band and play jazz festivals in the United States and Europe. Also, I’d like to get a side-man gig with a big artist at some point to see what that would be like.