On this week’s Celtic Fusion programme on Tuesday evening, 24 January, there is a very special interview with singer Rab Noakes to coincide with his Celtic Connections 2017 show at the Old Fruitmarket on 2 February and also the release of his EP-CD The Treatment Tapes.
Celtic Fusion programme contributor Danny Matheson caught up with Rab at his Glasgow home last week to chat about how life had treated him in recent years, and how he is looking forward to getting back on stage with live performance during Celtic Connections 2017.
Early in 2015, Rab Noakes was diagnosed with tonsillar cancer. From March to May 2015, the treatments took place including 30 early morning radiotherapy sessions and two chemotherapy overnights. It was rigorous stuff and rendered him inactive for a few months.
He wasn’t inactive for any longer than was necessary though, and was soon back in action.
The treatments’ rigours were alleviated by creating landmarks to reach such as the MU conference in July, followed by Roddy Hart’s Neil Young Tribute concert in September. The release of his I’m Walkin’ Here album was delayed from May and saw the light of day in October. November 2015 was devoted to touring in support of the release.
The songs on The Treatment Tapes EP-CD were written during the post-treatment period and were part of that process. They were recorded chronologically so their performances reflect that progress. There was one initial session in December 2015 followed by one in April 2016. There’s no self-pity though; here you’ll find defiance, resilience, love, support and wit.
Rab’s wife, Stephy Pordage, was an integral part of the process at every stage. She was part of the CD production team with John Cavanagh. Steph was a key part of the writing process, and contributed a significant part of the lyric of the song, ‘Mindful’.
He often prefaces any rendition by making a little light of it saying something like “When something like this happens to the likes of me at least I know I’ll probably get a couple of songs out of it”. He goes on to say: “It sounds a wee bit flippant and it does puncture the tension a bit. Truth is, though, it’s what we do creatively. We utilise experience and observation of, and response to, life’s ingredients, add a helping of imagination and deliver a work”.
Listen to Danny Matheson talking to Rab about his illness and how music helped him cope.
Celtic Fusion, Tuesday 24 January 8.00-10.00pm and Saturday 28 January 5.00-7.00pm and Catch Up anytime.