Josh Esterline has parlayed success with his one-man band, Acousta Noir, into a lengthy summer tour of the U.S. and Europe.
Story by Nate Hansen, Photos by Thomas Boyd and Tim Stephanos
Josh Esterline is a musician of many talents and, if you attend one of his gigs, you’re likely to see most of them on display during a single song.
After years of playing with various regional bands, the Roseburg resident has found success with his solo project Acousta Noir — solo being the operative word here. A true one-man band, Acousta Noir is all Esterline — singing, playing guitar and keeping a drum beat with his feet.
But those interested in catching one of the multi-talented musician’s shows will have to wait until he returns from an extended tour of the U.S. and Europe this summer.
Esterline spent five years in Portland, playing with the band Blackout Radio, before returning to Roseburg in 2010 and performing with the folk-rock trio ChampionSHIP. That’s when he began playing drums with his feet, a tricky feat he kept in his act when he became Acousta Noir.
Esterline guesses his first Acousta Noir show was in August 2013 at Draper’s Draft House in downtown Roseburg. “I played there a few times in place of ChampionSHIP, to a good response. The name came from a buddy of mine saying my music sounded dark, like noir. So I ran with it.”
Acousta Noir found success quickly. Esterline embarked on his first national tour in October 2013, and since then has spent a lot of time on the road. Acousta Noir has made three U.S. tours in addition to three previous European trips.
Esterline’s travels abroad sound like something out of a rock ‘n’ roll storybook. “Every musician dreams of touring in another country,” he says. “You always hear success stories about acts getting huge in Europe.”
How Esterline found his way to Europe in the first place is pretty fantastical as well.
“In 2014, two couples from France were traveling the United States when their RV broke down in Roseburg,” he says. “They wandered into Draper’s while I was playing a set and we all hit it off. They told me I should come to Europe sometime. A few months later I contacted them about doing a tour, and almost a year to the day after I first met them I landed in France.”
Before returning to Europe this summer, Esterline will be touring the U.S. with the punk-bluegrass band Larry and his Flask. He also plans to release a new Acousta Noir album, which he describes as “darker and heavier” than its predecessors.
Despite Acousta Noir’s long and at times exotic travel schedule, Esterline says there’s no chance he’ll lose touch with his hometown. He has a special affinity for the people who live in the area, including the business owners who give him a chance to play as well as those who have given him temporary jobs when he’s not touring.
“I’ve been a lot of places, and there’s a reason I still call Roseburg home,” he says. “This area is full of good people, and I’d really like to thank the small-business owners. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”