An Incomplete History of How Noah Gundersen Became The Courage

From Counting Crows and dreads to Guitarville and Fearful Bones.

May 31, 1989 Noah Gundersen is born in Olympia. Growing up in Centralia, he is homeschooled by religious parents and takes piano lessons. The highlight of his young musical life is listening to Bob Dylan albums—but only Slow Train Coming and Saved, the two recorded after Dylan's proclaimed conversion to Christianity.

2002 Gundersen inherits his first guitar, an electric Epiphone, from his dad. "I played the shit out of it," he says. Three years later, his birthday gift is an acoustic guitar; he still performs with the same instrument today.

2005 "Sixteen was the big year for me," Gundersen says. "I was angsty." He sees Thursday—the poster band for post-hardcore—perform at Graceland (now El Corazon). Upon deciding that the crowd cared more about "what everyone was wearing" than the music, Gundersen quits the scene. After a friend plays Counting Crows' "Round Here" for him, Gundersen decides "this is the music I want to play."

2008 After a year of solo touring, 19-year-old Gundersen starts growing his trademark dreadlocks. He insists this hairstyle is not related to his enduring love of Counting Crows or of their white, dreadlocked frontman, Adam Duritz.

July 2009 Gundersen recruits a permanent backing band, including his then-16-year-old sister Abby on vocals and violin. Renamed "Noah Gundersen & The Courage," the band plays their first official show on July 25, the day of Michael Jackson's death. Gundersen regrets not learning to play "Dirty Diana" beforehand.

Oct. 12, 2009 Gundersen releases the stellar Saints and Liars EP, which lyrically deals with disappointment, death, and disillusionment with God. He and The Courage sell out the Q Cafe, a Christian-youth gathering place. Channeling Ryan Adams, he quiets the crowd during the pensive "Jesus, Jesus" but brings the packed room of showgoers to their feet during "Moss on a Rolling Stone."

November 2009 After two years of near-constant touring, Gundersen officially moves from Centralia to Seattle. For a few months, he couch-surfs and works at a tanning salon in Redmond until finding a house and a job at Guitarville in Shoreline. Aside from his younger sister, who just graduated from high school and still lives with their parents, his band moves to the city, too.

March 2010 Fearful Bones, Gundersen's first full-length, is recorded in a barn in Sisters, Oregon. With "Noah Gundersen" dropped from the name and songwriting duties shared by the bandmates, the less folky, more country-rock album will be released, under the moniker "The Courage," this month.

September 11, 2010 Officially rebranded, the band plays a CD release show at the Croc. It's the first show Gundersen has played there since turning 21; when he headlined the venue last February, he was too young to drink the Croc's beer and couldn't leave the green room unless he was heading to the stage.

music@seattleweekly.com

 
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