If you live in Canada, chances are you probably have not seen Noah Engh perform live, since he was unceremoniously escorted out of the country and asked not to return after an ill-fated “international” tour several years ago. Fortunately, Noah, a.k.a. “The Kid Fantastic,” doesn’t give a simmering hot damn about what anyone—the Canadian government, or music fans in-general—think of him. As he closes in on the business end of 1,000 (domestic) performances in seven years, and nearly ten albums of varying musical styles (and volume levels), The Kid has more than proven himself to be anything but.
Originally hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Engh relocated to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue a life in music, when most of his peers were bounding off to college. What followed has been a half-lifetime of musical exploit cramped into little more than a half decade of opportunity. As a talented guitarist he has found himself playing in and with many great bands and artists, but despite a level of skill that could have translated into a comfortable life as a session player, Engh’s musical ability is trumped only by his defiant creativity—and wanderlust.
As a solo artist, Noah has already released eight albums. His two most recent releases, most notably, showcase The Kid’s extreme range of styles, and his own unique brand of sound. 2010’s Take Yer Pants Off and Dance is a brilliantly executed slice of Americana, conjuring the spirit of classic Delta blues, as much as the the Brit-pop bombast of early Rolling Stones. Never one to be pigeonholed, Engh follwed up with his most recent release, My Black Gunner (2011), a vicious attack of garage/punk/noise/one-man-band hysteria—with album art to match.
Of course, in this day of home studios anyone can “release” eight albums. The difference between those self-congratulatory weekend warriors and Noah—aside from most of his material being masterfully recorded at the all-analog Organic Audio Recorders with producer/engineer, Jason Achilles Mezilis—is the 700 to 800 shows he tucked into his belt during the same time period.
After a number of tours with early bands, including a 2007 stint in the punk/Americana “supergroup”, Suntrash (where he earned his moniker, “The Kid Fantastic”), as well as his deportation resulting tour of Canada, The Kid ventured out onto his own. Between May 2008 and January 2011 Noah Engh remained on the road non-stop, 365 days a year, with little more than a few days off at any one time. The tally during that time averaged out to around 220 shows annually—which is a lot for any band, except there was no band. Engh accomplished the feat entirely on his own: booking and promoting the shows on his own, and performing as a one-man-band—his rhythm section consisting of little more than a cleverly constructed, custom “electric shoe.”
His unique endeavor and lonesome existence in an unusual social vacuum was captured on film, with Noah as the subject of the 2011 film, My Caddy Won’t Let Me. Director, David Urbanic, traveled with Noah (and a distressed 1972 Cadillac Eldorado) on a west coast leg of his 2010 tour, presenting a candid conversation on the actual reality of life as a completely self-sufficient, DIY (“do it yourself”) touring musician. The film debuted in October 2011 as an official selection of the Tucson Film and Music Festival (Tucson, Arizona).
Engh currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he performs regularly and continues to record. His tour schedule has lightened significantly, for the time being—but then, that’s a relative term when describing someone whose norm hovered at over 200 for the past four years. [+]