Sunshine Sounds Festival: Katie Noonan's New Music Showcase Celebrates Queensland's Cultural Identity

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  • Wednesday, 07 April 2021 15:53
2021 Sunshine Sounds Festival takes place at Eumundi Showgrounds 1-2 May. 2021 Sunshine Sounds Festival takes place at Eumundi Showgrounds 1-2 May.

It'll be an all-Queensland affair when freshly-minted live music event, Sunshine Sounds Festival takes over Eumundi with a 100 per cent home-grown artist line-up.

Sunshine Sounds has been put together by Australian music icon Katie Noonan and her production company Kin Music, with some help from the Queensland State Government.

"I've always been a fiercely proud Queensland artist," Katie says, "and being able to be the Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival for four years, I really made it my priority to programme [a] majority [of] home-grown talent.

"I'm very proud that statistically, 83 per cent of our artists were from Queensland in my tenure, and they were the most successful festivals on record in terms of commercial success as well.

"So, it proves that if you programme carefully and get amazing people who do also happen to be from here, you can make things that are culturally successful and really celebrate our cultural identity, but also put bums on seats and make commercial sense."

"We're using all local suppliers, all local vendors, all local crew, all local designers – so 100 per cent of the investment stays in the community." - Katie Noonan

Like many artists suddenly deprived of work and income from the loss of touring, Katie spent much of the downturn last year reassessing her options and looking for new creative avenues. "I basically went for every grant possible," Katie explains.

"My full-time job was writing grants and job applications because I really didn't know. . . I was realistic about how long [COVID] is going to affect the industry.

"Fifty three per cent of arts orgs were shutdown within a month of COVID hitting, and these are long-established, well-supported, well-respected and well-loved arts orgs. Some of them won't ever come back, that's the reality of the situation."

The past year has been devastating for the Australian music industry right across the board, from touring artists for whom border access and international travel is essential to make a living, right through to the technical production personnel and the myriad suppliers who depend on live music for theirs.

The Queensland Government has offered support to the local music industry via what Katie calls "a smart and savvy suite of grants" by Minister For The Arts Leeanne Enoch. "Then I went for an Open Air grant, which is exactly what has enabled the Sunshine Sounds Festival dream to come into fruition," Katie says.

To take place at Eumundi Showgrounds over the Labour Day weekend (1-2 May), Sunshine Sounds will help reinvigorate the local economy as it welcomes visitors and tourists back to its tight-knit community.

"When I put together the Sunshine Sounds grant, I thought, 'I'm going to make it 100 per cent Queensland and 50 per cent Sunshine Coast [artists]'," Katie says.

"Because this area, the Fairfax electorate where I live, was the worst-affected electorate in Queensland in terms of economic loss from COVID. Probably because there are a lot of artistic people here, I don't know, but that was a statistic I read.

"We're using all local suppliers, all local vendors, all local crew, all local designers, poster printers, wristband makers, everything is local so 100 per cent of the investment stays in the community."

Katie has resided in Eumundi (on Gubbi Gubbi country) for nine years, raising her family and integrating herself into the living heart of the town and surrounding region.

Six years ago she started the Eumundi School Of Rock, with the Sunshine Sounds line-up also featuring a handful of her students alongside some of Queensland and Australia's top talent.

"Thankfully, the amazing Kate Miller-Heidke who is a Queenslander but has been living in Melbourne for a while, is based in Brisbane for this year," Katie enthuses.

"From there, I put together my dream line-up of people that I love and admire and that I thought would be a great all-ages, family-friendly festival.

"Everyone said yes, not one person said no. People were just excited to be back doing a festival at home, and also getting paid well."



On top of being all-Queensland talent, the Sunshine Sounds line-up will be highly representative of female and Indigenous artists.

"When I did some stats further, I found [the line-up] was 50 per cent First Nations and about 75 per cent female, which was not a planned thing," Katie says.

"The only definite thing was all-Queensland and lots of locals, that was my main thing. I never programme via quotas, that was just a happy accident.

"The number-one deciding factor has to be your unique point-of-view as an artist, and what you're saying and what you're about."

With Queensland 'good to go' and its denizens encouraged to explore the boundless beauty of our own expansive backyard, Sunshine Sounds Festival presents an ideal opportunity to not only see some home-grown live music but also support a small town in picturesque surrounds and enjoy the hospitality of its community.

When Katie found herself in Eumundi for the first time on a tour so many years ago, she recalls a town that was warm and welcoming, inhabited by people more than willing to offer her and her band accommodation on a night when there was no room left at the inn. Seriously, the pub was full.

It's that spirit of open-armed community that Katie fell in love with, and what she hopes will bring people to Eumundi for Sunshine Sounds. With the backing of the Queensland Government, the regional tourism board and local businesses, Katie has high hopes for Sunshine Sounds in its inaugural year.



"We've had amazing support from the Eumundi District Community Association and Experience Eumundi, and also the local pub who has put their money where their mouth is in support of the festival to help us do well in our first year because they want to see it succeed and continue for many years to come.

"It's been a truckload of work, but I think it's going to be a super special event and I'd love it to live on for many years.”

Sunshine Sounds Festival takes place at Eumundi Showgrounds 1-2 May (Labour Day weekend).

Sunshine Sounds 2021 Line-up

Kate Miller-Heidke
Busby Marou
Miiesha
Katie Noonan
Asha Jefferies
Jack Carty
Sahara Beck
Andrea Kirwin And The Yama Nui Social Club
Pink Matter
The Dreggs
LT (Leanne Tennant)
Band Of Frequencies
Cigany Weaver
Lydia Fairhall
Deline Briscoe
The Dawn Light
Georgia Corowa
Cello Dreaming
Mark Moroney
Sarah King
The Feral Cats Of Tokyo

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