Former VISTA volunteer finds bliss on the road

Musician, singer and songwriter Haley Noel went on tour to entertain people – and found herself in the process

Haley Noel of Moab finds joy again while singing on the road.
Photo by Aidan McClean

Haley Noel, 25, is a bilingual solo singer and songwriter who also plays the banjo. She has been in the Moab community for the past two years, originally moving from Maryland to Moab to work as an Americorps VISTA at the Moab Arts and Recreational Center, a local non-profit.

While there, Noel met lots of people like herself in the community who loved the outdoors and music. She’s jammed with several local musicians, including the Fiery Furnace Marching Band, and while attending the Moab Grassroots Music Exchange. Last year was the first time she and three other musicians, Cali Bee, Grace LaFace, and Anni Gordon, had the opportunity to form a proper band, called the Plucky Vigors.

They are a queer folk band that performed multiple times in Moab over the second half of 2018.

Most recently, Noel completed the “Revel Deep” tour, alongside Moab musician Jenna Talbott, where they performed in bars throughout Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California. Before heading off on tour, Noel strongly felt that she needed a change.

“Cell by cell, the further I got out on the road, I knew this was the right choice. I’ve rediscovered joy and that’s a great feeling,” Noel said of being on the road.

On tour, she typically plays at bars, but she made a pit stop in Salt Lake City to perform at a friend’s house and was able to sing “Happy Birthday” to someone in attendance before singing a few of her own originals.

Noel is inspired by strong femme singers such as Kaia Kater, Janis Joplin and Eva Cassidy and was also raised on the sounds of the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night and the tight harmonies of Queen. She describes her own influence as Blues Folk with a Bluegrass influence.

Having made the commitment to get on the road a mere month and half ago, she’s happily surprised by the feedback she’s gotten so far.

“Kind people are excited to hear what we have to offer and often give words of praise after our shows,” Noel said of being on the road and hearing from new fans. “I know that my friends in Moab are going to support me whether I sound good or not, so it has been very affirming to know that we’re being well received.”

Noel does all of her own booking and outreach, making the tour very special to her. At the moment, she is going back and forth to Moab, doing odd jobs to earn a little bit of savings. She plans to reconnect with the Plucky Vigors mid-May for a short tour that will end at the Salt Lake City Pride festival.

Until then, she is staying sharp by performing gigs weekly and playing music with as many people as she can, picking their brains when she gets a chance. In doing so, she’s seen exponential growth in herself. Noel feels the love for herself and from other people and plans on continuing this unique journey and seeing where it takes her.