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Carolina Roots Rocker Bill Noonan Comes to Catawba College May 3rd

April 19, 2007

Category: Business & Economics, Events, Music


Area Leaders Join in to Discuss the Price of Progress

Bill Noonan has been an influential roots rock songwriter and performer since long before roots rock was cool. During the 1990s, he fronted the legendary Charlotte-based Americana group the Rank Outsiders. Noonan is now performing original songs with his own band in support of a rollicking new album, Catawba City. The CD takes a cold, hard look at the sacrifices being made in this part of North Carolina in the name of progress.

Bill Noonan brings his band and songs from Catawba City to Salisbury on Thursday, May 3rd for one show in Catawba College's Hedrick Little Theatre. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.  

As a bonus, Catawba College will host a special pre-show forum for all ticket-holders at 6:00 PM the same evening. Progress: What Price? will feature Noonan as well as Chairman of the Rowan County Commission Arnold Chamberlain, City of Salisbury Manager for Planning and Community Development Joe Morris. All are influential, longtime residents of the area who've closely observed this region's unprecedented growth. Each will share his thoughts on the subject during the informal, free-flowing session. Catawba College Associate Professor of History Dr. Gary Freeze and author of Catawbans: Pioneers in Progress will serve as moderator.

A recent review in Creative Loafing called Noonan's new CD, Catawba City, "a solid slab of new twang. Part Dwight Yoakum honky tonk, Townes Van Zandt narrative and countrified power pop ala Graham Parker, this 12-song set spans a good portion of the roots rock canon." The article acknowledges Noonan's status as the very roots of Carolina roots rock when it observes, "Noonan has become such a veteran of the Charlotte scene that other veterans of the Charlotte scene now name albums after his songs."

Noonan fills Catawba City with sentiments felt by many area residents, "I've spent most of my life in Catawba City. Watched it grow from a dirt-track town to a playground for the rich and pretty," he sings in the album's title track. This direct expression of the heart has led one reviewer to call the song, "amazing — Springsteen-esque, and better than anything Bruce has written to address the subject matter in his last decade of trying."

As Calvin Powers of Taproot Radio puts it,   "The Bill Noonan Band shows us all what is good about small town Americana, and his music makes you want to be one of the good ol' boys."

"It's not every day that we get to host a concert by an artist of Bill Noonan's caliber," observers Catawba College Associate Professor of Music David Lee Fish. Fish serves as faculty sponsor for the Catawba chapter of the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA), the group organizing Noonan's May 3rd appearance. "This is an honor for us, and we want to make the most of it. That's why we're putting together the pre-concert forum. It's an opportunity for those in Rowan County to come and chat about the price of progress. Even in the five years I've lived here, I've seen growth change the face of our city."

MEISA and Fish are getting some heavyweight help in organizing the Noonan concert. It comes in the form of Jeffrey Cheen, a 40-year veteran of the music industry who's worked with everybody from John Lennon and Tiny Tim to Rick James and Deep Purple.   In the process, he's headed up Mercury Records' Hollywood office and managed Capitol Records' Rock A&R Department.  

Cheen recently relocated from Los Angeles and now serves president as the Charlotte-based record label Succession Records. Soon after coming to North Carolina, he co-founded the Charlotte Music Awards. "Jeff's appearance in Charlotte is like manna from heaven for music business at Catawba," observes Fish.

According to Michael Evans, Noonan's manager and Cheen's partner in the Charlotte Music Awards, "The concert was Jeff's idea." Cheen has placed members of Catawba's MEISA  chapter in the roles of promoter, agent, publicist, stage manager, and like. The project gives the Catawba students real-world experience with putting on a live show. In the process, the music industry aspirants get to learn the ropes from an industry veteran who brings with him professional expectations.  

Cheen's interest in helping music business students at Catawba reflects his own experience as a communications student at Ithaca College. "It was a privilege as a student to have Rod Serling available to us to help better understand the real world of the business that I was about to enter. At least once a year during my four years at Ithaca College, we got to have one on ones with the legendary writer and producer."

General admission for the Noonan concert is $7, and a small number of Golden Seat tickets are also available for $20. Golden Seat ticket-holders each receive a signed copy of Bill Noonan's latest CD, Catawba City. They will also have an opportunity to meet with Noonan backstage before the show and enjoy the concert from reserved seats.  

Both general admission and Golden Seat tickets can be purchased by calling the Catawba College Music Department at (704) 637-4345. General admission tickets will also be available at the door the evening of the show.

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Contact: David Fish, (704) 637-4280 • dlfish@catawba.edu