When my friend Kandy Kiser Howlett and I saw Noah Spencer as part of the Holiday Showcase at The Paramount before Christmas, I was impressed with the young man. So impressed that I’ve been looking for opportunities to catch him doing his own gig ever since. I thought I was going to get to see him last month at The Martha Washington Inn, but questionable weather intervened. Then I saw on Facebook about a week ago that he was scheduled to play a free gig at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Bristol on February 15. If you know me at all, you know my motto – “If it’s free, it’s for me!”


I went a little early, of course, because I needed to get my “Buffalo” fix while I was out there. I hadn’t been to play the slots since my birthday, when I walked out with $50 that I didn’t go in with. I didn’t do quite as well this time but leaving with $25 more than I went in with is still a win, as far as I’m concerned. Plus, I had fun. I just love it when those buffalo line up for me! I’m the world’s worst with bonus spins, though. I was racking up the spins – I think I had a total of about 86 bonus spins at one point – and only won like $25 out of all those spins. I have no luck with the bonus spins, plain and simple. Had that been Russ, he would have walked out with $500, I have no doubt! 


But back to seeing Noah Spencer… The show started at 7:00. I’d spent a little too much time playing with the Buffalo, so I didn’t get a seat. I did find a tall round table in the back to lean on, though, which was better than nothing. My friend Becky Smith Rangel had to work until a little after 7, but she came to hang out with me once she finished. It turns out, Thursday nights are Ladies Night. Which explains in part the really loud, obnoxious girls beside me, I guess, who did nothing but talk and laugh and exist in their own beer-laced bubble for 95% of the evening. The other 5% was spent thinking they were back-up singers placed in the back of the bar, which was equally disturbing. 


Noah, on the other hand, did not disappoint. The emcee introduced him, and the audience gave him a warm welcome. It was the first night Noah could come inside the casino, as he had just turned 21 the night before (yep, a Valentine’s baby). His musical versatility still impresses me. He does solid pop and rock covers from at least five generations, plus gospel, country, and bluegrass standards with his own twists on them. In this particular show, he sang an Elvis tune for his grandmother, two BeeGees hits (even hopping up into a fantastic falsetto), a kick-butt cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” two Eagles smashes, two Fleetwood Mac chart-toppers, The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” “Under The Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer’s “No Such Thing,” “Russell County Line” by 49 Winchester, and so many other greats. An impressive set list, to be sure. Plus, he sang several of his own songs, including the final song of the evening, the one he wrote for his girlfriend of 7+ years (seriously), who couldn’t be there (because she isn’t twenty-one yet), “Queen of Middle Creek,” which everyone really enjoyed. Then the emcee had the crowd sing “Happy Birthday” to Noah, which was a nice way to end the show. 


He continues to impress me. His talent is obvious, but he seems like a truly nice guy, too. I never saw him on The Voice because I just don’t get into shows like that, but I really get into seeing him live and appreciate him more each time I have the opportunity to do so. As someone from Tazewell, I know it’s ingrained in me to automatically dislike Richlands, but it’s also ingrained in me to love and support my neighbor. It’s been a long, long time since I lived in Tazewell, but it will always be my hometown, and this guy’s from the next hometown over – we’re from the same county and that makes me proud. I love seeing him ignite energy in a crowd. I love hearing him do covers, but am especially fond of hearing him deliver his own beautiful work, too. I’ll keep checking him out every chance I get. And if I get to play a little Buffalo on the side, I’m okay with that, too.