By Arne Sjostedt
When Rock City Jester caught up with Katie Noonan to discuss her monthly online concert series Live from Zac Hurren's Rainbow Room, which opens this Friday 25 September, it had been nearly six months since she had played her last “proper gig”.
“That was a very scary time for everybody,” Noonan says of the period that COVID-19 restrictions first kicked in.
At the time she was three dates into a 25 date national tour.
Saying she has since been forced from being a human doer to more of a human being, despite the very real personal impact the pandemic has had on her and so many others, Noonan has been deliberate in her search for the positive.
“I really now have seen this as an incredible gift, this time. I have been able to be home for the first time in kind of ever, really. I’ve been able to be with my children a lot more, I’ve been able to be with my husband a lot more. I’ve been able to just take some more time to focus on gratitude.”
Also using the time to studiously apply for available grant funding, Noonan received an Australia Council Resilience Grant, which has allowed her and her musician husband Zac Hurren to adapt their bespoke studio for the world of online streaming.
“That’s the new normal,” she says. “It’s all new technology, so we’re learning as we go.”
For this series, Noonan will draw on some of her existing show formats and include a special one off concert revisiting her first band George with her brother Tyrone Noonan, in the 20th anniversary of their ARIA Number 1 album Polyserena.
“We’ve never played just the two of us, ever,” Noonan says. “So we’ll definitely go back and do a bunch of tunes from that record, and some other stuff from Unity and probably some of our solo stuff.”
Promising to keep it live and keep it real, Noonan says Live from Zac Hurren’s Rainbow Room will be all about getting great sounding musicians in a great sounding room.
A treat for the eyes and ears, the studio has been meticulously designed and built by Hurren to provide the very best sonic experience he can muster.
"It’s a beautiful big masterpiece that Zac has been working incredibly hard on," says Noonan.
“He basically has become an acoustic technician really, and made a beautiful space.”
With its walls designed around the golden ratio, “It’s an incredible sounding room, especially for chamber music,” Noonan says.
Which will suit the first concert in the series perfectly, as she says it is “basically piano, guitar, cello and voices.”
Inviting “lots of mates over to play and make sounds together,” the first first show will be a version of her Songs That Made Me format.
Joining her will be Queensland indie pop artist Sahara Beck, internationally renowned cellist Louise King, Fijian-Australian soul artist Andrea Kerwin, chamber folk artist Sarah King, and 11 year old Layla Barnett, who Noonan has lifted from her Eumundi School of Rock.
Later shows will see her team back up again with classical guitarist Karin Schaupp for their Songs from the Southern Skies material. She will also be taking the opportunity to perform with her sons Dexter and Jonah.
"My last gig on the 14th of March was with Dexter. He played drums with me. He’s one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard. And he’s 15. I know of course I am biased, but he really is a spectacular musician. And then Jonah, his little brother, has the most beautiful voice. So we thought we’d do a little family thing.”
For Noonan, this concert series is a chance to do something new and exciting, and connect with people all over the country and the world.
“I’m an improviser. I’ve studied jazz and I think COVID has been one big improvisation. You can’t really make massive long term plans. You kind of have to be in the moment more. That’s kind of the beautiful thing.”
To be part of the first concert live stream, subscribe at patreon.com/katienoonan
For further information visit www.katienoonan.com.au