Noah Walker is a guitar player and teacher from Vancouver, Canada. He has played music all over the world, from Turkey to Tokyo and Dawson City to New York City. He is a longtime collaborator with underground legend C.R. Avery, fronts his own rock n' roll project The Broken Mirrors, and is a busy sideman/secret weapon of countless other bands.
THE LONG STORY ...
I was born on the islands of Haida Gwaii in Northern BC. My parents were folk singers and multi-instrumentalists. We lived in a cabin that was a seven mile hike down the beach and across two rivers to the nearest road.
I know every musician's bio says they started at a young age, but I was actually on stage the night before I was born. My mom and dad were performing at the Queen Charlotte Hall, where one year later I would return for my first gig. I won the Queen Charlotte baby contest by being the only 1 year old who could play harmonica.
There were always instruments around, but when I was 9 years old and living in Victoria my neighbour Chris Flintoff taught me how to play Crazy Train. That's when the dominoes started to fall. After that I grew my hair long, got a leather jacket and started secretly praying to the ghost of Randy Rhoads. Some kids from elementary school say they still remember my performance at the grade 7 Halloween dance where I played Master of Puppets dressed as Batman.
In Jr. High and High School I got really into blues music and surf guitar. At that time I think I could play every single Jimi Hendrix song. Grunge was also big then. Kurt Cobain was my cousin so I felt extra-connected to his music. All the kids who used to make fun of my mack-jacket and long hair were now wearing plaid and dressing like I did in grade 6. Assholes.
After high school I tried to become a baker but discovered that I'm allergic to flour and despise getting up early. It was becoming clear that I was failing at my chosen career and was about to be fired. In a moment of desperation I enrolled in music school.
It turned out I was really good at being a music student. At VCC I was on the dean's list, won a scholarship award, and came in first place in their contemporary music competition. At Capilano College I won the guitar chair in the “A” Band and got to play with jazz legend Ed Thigpen. I went to college for 5 years and practiced for so many thousands of hours Malcolm Gladwell should write a book about it.
I was on my way to being a “hip” jazz guitar player but then something happened ... C.R. Avery.
If you don't know who C.R. Avery is, just go to a show. I have been playing with him for fifteen years now and I still haven't found the words to describe what he does. All I can say is that he's the real deal.
Anyways, I became entwined in C.R. Avery's band. We toured across Canada many times and played in England, France, and the West Coast of the States. I would go away with him on weekends and play these wild shows where we'd be rolling around on the ground, crowd surfing, having harmonica-guitar duels on top of tables, etc. and then come back to Vancouver for my regular Monday night jazz gig. It didn't take long before my guitar style started to change. I began incorporating all of the old school blues and surf guitar sounds that I grew up listening to and my playing became grittier and more honest. My jazz band ¡Queso Blanco! became more and more intense and I started singing. Eventually our sound had changed so much we changed our name to The Broken Mirrors.
I have always been into playing different styles of music: blues, jazz, rockabilly, old school country, old time rock n' roll, folk, punk, hip hop, soul, gospel, latin, western swing, gypsy jazz, Atkins/Travis picking, indie rock, etc etc. Working as a professional guitar player I have been able to play in some really great bands all over the genre map. At the end of 2014 I counted how many different bands I played with in the previous year – Twenty-five! That's a lot of songs. You can see a list of performing highlights if you click here.
In January of 2013 I produced a show called Beckstravaganza where myself and forty-seven of my favourite Vancouver musicians debuted the music from Beck's sheet music only album Song Reader. The Rio Theatre was packed to the brim. It was a hell of a night, and probably my favourite gig to date.
Music takes you some pretty crazy places. I've played coast to coast across Canada from the Yukon to P.E.I. I've played music in Istanbul, Tokyo, Korea, NYC, London, Paris, LA, Texas and a whole lot of places in between. I've played rock festivals to 20,000 people and I've played cafes for audiences of two (my mom and dad). It's been quite a varied musical career. Check out my demo reel for a glimpse.
So that's it for now.
If you are looking for a guitar player or a guitar teacher please drop me a line. Come see a show and don't be afraid to say hi. Thanks so much for reading.
- Noah Walker