Khe Sanh, Saturday Night, Cheap Wine – these classic hits by iconic Australian rock band Cold Chisel formed the soundtrack to many Aussie lives over the past 40 years. These songs make up a soundtrack we wouldn’t have without the creative genius of Don Walker, one of Australia’s greatest musical legends.
After a sellout premiere at this year’s Sydney Festival, Songs Of Don will be performed here in Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Musically directed by the phenomenal Katie Noonan, Songs Of Don will be performed by some of this country’s top musicians – Clare Bowditch, Emma Donovan and Sarah McLeod.
Sarah McLeod rose to fame for her notable work with the rock band The Superjesus, before taking on a solo career. I recently caught up with Sarah to discuss both this show and her history in the music industry.
“I actually fell into the music industry – it wasn’t intentional at all. I was planning on becoming a stock broker and I got dragged up on stage once while I was holidaying in Bali to sing a couple of songs with a local band. I had a huge wave of euphoria and everyone was buying me drinks. Then I got asked to play in the bar every night for the next two weeks and I asked myself, “Where have I been?! This is amazing!” Then when I returned to Australia, I quit university and started a band. It definitely wasn’t part of my plan. It just kept going and growing from there. I never thought it would last more than a couple of years, but here we are.“
For someone who has forged such a strong path in the music industry, I was also keen to find out if music has always been part of Sarah’s life.
“It’s been part of my life, but more as an observer. I never played an instrument growing up. When I was young, I was always singing along to the radio or records; usually people would turn the radio off or tell me to stop singing. “Don’t sing now, we have people over!” I always looked at it as being bad-arse, something I shouldn’t do.”
Songs of Don celebrates the music of Australian music legend, Don Walker. But what is it about his music that led to the creation of this show?
“He just wrote timeless songs. Timeless songs are such an intelligent craft. When you find a writer that can do it consistently, like Don, you just have to celebrate it. His songs sound so beautiful, no matter who is singing them. When you are used to hearing them come out of the mouths of Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes, they are beautiful because that’s what you are used to. But then you hear the same songs being delivered by female voices and it really transcends the whole emotion. They cut deep because they are very well crafted. The songs have all been reimagined to suit the singers…but you’ll have to come along to hear how we will be presenting them.”
The evening will be musically directed by another icon of the Australian music industry, Katie Noonan, whom Sarah is very excited to be working with.
“I’m really looking forward to this. To be directed by Katie Noonan will be a real buzz. I’m a little bit nervous to be working with her because she is so brilliant. I recently went to see a show she did up in QLD at QPAC. She did an a cappella show, and it just blew me away. She is just out of this world! I will be walking into this show with my eyes and ears open, ready to learn from the master.”
Songs Of Don will be part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival for one night only. Friday June 18 at 7.30pm on the Festival Theatre stage. Tickets can be purchased through bass or the Cabaret Festival website: https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/songs-of-don/
Interview by Ben Stefanoff