Bring on the Sunshine
Superstar songstress Katie Noonan’s newest project will truly shine a light on the Sunshine Coast! Deb Caruso tunes in to find out more.
They say that the sun always shines after the storm, well for lucky Sunshine Coast locals, out of the ruin of COVID comes a very big ray of sunshine in the form of a two-day, world-class music festival in our own backyard.
The inaugural Sunshine Sounds Festival will be held at the Eumundi Showgrounds on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 May 2021 with a stellar line-up celebrating the power of music to connect the community.
The all-ages festival will feature performances by the likes of Kate Miller-Heidke, Busby Marou, Miiesha, Jack Carty, Asha Jefferies and a host of amazing Sunshine Coast artists including Sahara Beck, Andrea Kirwin and the Yama-Nui Social Club, The Dreggs, Band of Frequencies and more!
Sunshine Sounds Festival Artistic Director and Founder Katie Noonan will also be performing in a bevvy of brilliance that features 100% Queensland artists; 50% First Nations; 50% Sunshine Coast and 75% female performers; something that Katie says was accidental.
“I set out to pick the best peeps for this amazing event and it just so happened that there was a large proportion of local, First Nations and female performers,” she said. “The headline talent came first. I started by contacting the key people I wanted to perform; Kate Miller-Heidke said ‘yes’ immediately, as did everyone after that!”
“I am fiercely proud of our Queensland artists and believe we have world-class artists right here so it’s great to be able to celebrate and showcase their amazing talent in my town.
“Coming together to connect over music is so important for the soul, for community spirit and connection. And that all contributes to wellbeing and happiness – something we all deserve to feel in this topsy-turvy time.”
Katie said the event was also about performers having a chance to engage together again, earn some much-needed money and remember what it feels like to play live. She said 2020 was catastrophic for the industry.
“Our industry relies on performing in front of large gatherings of people; which came to a screeching halt last year,” she said. “We are a community of creatives so we were one of the worst hit by the pandemic. When the government launched a smart suite of grants to help the sector recover, it was a lifeline.”
While Katie was fortunate to secure some performances over the period, interstate travel saw her serve out three rounds of hotel quarantine. Fortunately for us and for her fellow artists, she used that time to write Arts Grant to secure funding for various initiatives.
“I have never received a grant in my life so that was a new process,” she said. “It feels like I spent 2020 putting in grant and job applications trying to survive.
“I had some shows at the Sydney Festival in January then thought ‘what next?’ The Open Air Grant from the Queensland Government came through and I’m really proud to say that 100% of the money will go to the artists.
“It’s going to be a kick-ass day put together by a band of amazing team of local women:
Katie Harvison; Betzi Rios, who has been amazing with the Eumundi School of Rock project; and fellow musician and arts worker Sarah King.
“They are a dream team, an all-lady team who are awesome to work with in the community – and people I know and love.
“This event is in my hometown celebrating homegrown talent of the Sunny Coast, our state and our community.
“From the producers to the crew, food trucks and providers, they are all local so the investment stays in the community.”
Local food vendors will cater to all flavours and dietary requirements with Imperial Hotel keeping the drinks flowing, including Eumundi Lager and the newly-released Folktale Gin.
Katie said holding the event over two days was necessary to allow for the plethora of talent.
“Gates open at 10am and we will start off with a welcome to country at 11am through to 10pm.
“There will be solo artists, duos, trios and then building up to bigger bands as the day progresses.
“It is two days, 100% Australian artists and an earful of fun!”
Katie, who was recently appointed as Artistic Director of The National Folk Festival; is a five-time ARIA award winning artist with two decades of experience as a musician, producer and record label owner. She was the Artistic Director at the Queensland Music Festival for four years and is widely-recognised as a mentor and supporter for many young artists and women in the arts, something that was recognised in 2019 when she was awarded the Australian Women in Music Creative Leadership award and the prestigious APRA AMCOS State Arts Luminary Award.
Katie is no stranger to launching projects that benefit the community and the Sunshine Sounds Festival will have a decidedly local flavour. After moving to Eumundi nine years ago, she regularly put on concerts to raise money for the Eumundi Hall and six years ago she founded the Eumundi School of Rock.
“I just thought, this town needs a band and the kids need the chance to learn how to rock ‘n roll so the School of Rock was born,” she said. “Based on the movie of the same name, we offer all kids the chance to learn how to rock out with great local mentors and a whole load of fun!”
Graduates from the Eumundi School of Rock have formed their own band, called The Feral Cats of Tokyo, and they will be performing with Katie for the Sunshine Sounds Festival. Amongst them is Katie’s 15-year-old son Dexter on drums.
“I’ve set them a challenge to have their own original pieces ready to be performed at the Festival as well so that will be something to look forward to.
“The rhythm section from The Feral Cats will also be playing with Jack Carty, who was one of the first guest performers at a School of Rock graduation concert.
For Sunshine Song Festival Katie will be performing with the newly-formed Katie Noonan Trio featuring Steele Chabau on bass and her son Dexter.
While the numbers are still limited due to restrictions, Katie and the team have worked hard to keep it affordable with ticket prices starting at $80 for adults and $40 for kids.
“Given the talent that will be on offer, this is incredible value for money,” Katie said. “The money will totally go to the artists and to building the Festival for many years to come.
“We will open each day with a Welcome to Country and the final act will be the Sunshine Sounds Festival Community Choir who have just started rehearsing a very special Australian song, Sounds of Then (This is Australia) by GANGgajang,” she said. “The Choir will be led by some of the School of Rock graduates including the truly amazing 11-year-old First Nations artist Layla Barnett; Germaine and my 11-year-old son Jonah.
“I’m a strong believer that anyone who can talk, can sing; so the Choir will have the chance to prove that!”
For Katie, the highlight of the Festival will be seeing locals performing alongside some of Queensland’s most beloved and accomplished musical acts.
That and playing her fourth gig with her new band, including her son, on her birthday.
Sunshine Sounds Festival: 1-2 May; 11am-10pm (gates open 10am)
Tickets: $80 adults, $40 under 18 years; family passes and weekend passes also available.
Join the Choir!
All ages and abilities are encouraged to join The Community Choir who will perform the closing song on Sunday 2 May at 9pm. As Katie says ‘if you can talk, you can sing!’ Rehearsals are being held every fortnight from 7.30-9pm from Thursday 18 March until Thursday 29 April at the CWA Hall in Eumundi. Simply purchase a ticket for the Festival on that day and email Sarah on [email protected] to register.
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