Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Austinite 16-year-old takes on SXSW with pedal steel guitar

Manoo Sirivelu
Noah Faulkner, also known as Pedal Steel Noah, opens for the SXSW Music Opening Party on March 12, 2024. He performs with his father Jay Faulkner (left) and his brother Nate Faulkner (right).

Clad in a suave all black ensemble, cowboy hat and Crocs, Noah Faulkner took to the stage of Palm Door on Sixth on Tuesday. The twang of the pedal steel guitar floated through the air marking Noah’s first of three sets at SXSW.

Sixteen-year-old multi-instrumentalist and Austinite Noah Faulkner said playing music makes his life complete. Going by Pedal Steel Noah, the musician gained popularity on social media for his command of the pedal steel guitar, an upright steel guitar with levers and pedals that change the pitch of certain strings. When Noah was young, his mother Christine Faulkner discovered his ability to reproduce melodies on the piano just by listening to them. From then on, Christine said she knew Noah possessed something special.

Beginning with piano lessons from Terry Allen’s son, Bukka Allen, Noah soon moved onto other instruments. Noah said listening to George Strait’s song “God and Country Music” inspired him to learn how to add the pedal steel guitar to his repertoire.

“I like how sustaining his steel is and (how) ambient it is,” said Noah. “(It is a) little bit picky (and) a little bit vibrato. I like the gospel parts of it.”

Noah started posting videos on Youtube in 2020, he said, around six months after he began playing the pedal steel guitar. At first Noah played solo along to tracks, but eventually began playing with his 13-year-old brother Nate Faulkner, who plays bass, and father Jay Faulkner, who plays guitar off camera. 

“I love playing with Noah, it’s one of the best things in the world,” Nate said. “Every time I play with him (or) I practice with him (it) never fails to make me have fun and make me smile.”

In December 2023, Noah performed his first live gig with Austin songwriter Marshal Moon and has since played regularly around Austin. Christine said she and Jay have worked hard to find Noah mentors to guide him through his music journey.

“We got very lucky. (Noah’s mentors) have been so supportive,” Christine said. “There is one (mentor who has) played with everyone in the country music industry. He told us early on, ‘(Noah’s) got better ears than any of us.’ It gave us some hope and encouragement.”

On Tuesday, Noah announced his debut EP Texas Madness, including three covers and two original songs. The EP releases April 1 through Nashville indie record label Lightning Rod Records and features Noah, Nate and Jay as a family band. 

Christine said she feels happy that Noah found a way to share his talents with the world. She and Jay decided to set the EP’s release date as the start of Autism Awareness month.

“We wanted Noah to stand on his own,” Christine said. “We just wanted people to enjoy his music. But at the same time, he is on the autism spectrum, and we want to support our community. We also have gotten feedback that he’s very inspiring, so we certainly want to put that forth too.”

SXSW just marks the beginning of Noah’s upcoming live shows. According to his website, audiences can expect Noah’s pedal steel skills throughout Austin, Dallas and Houston in the coming weeks.

“It feels good to be at South by,” Noah said. “I’m really psyched. … It’s gonna be a lot of great music.”

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