Sit across from Leann Noack for an hour, and you’ll hear about her recent hang-time with the Goo Goo Dolls, the years she spent as a school principal and the time she was on TV. She’ll probably also mention what her daughter likes to do on the weekends, the business she recently started and those long, 12-hour days she spends on work trips.
And then she’ll talk about her favorite thing to do: Bartending.
“All I want to do is get behind the bar most nights,” said Noack, who is 37 and has had a bartending gig on the side since she was 18. “It’s my happy place.”
Well, Noack has lots of happy places. But yes, behind the bar at Pub 1848 in Moline tops the list.
“I like it, because it gives me an excuse to talk to people. I love hearing their stories,” she said. “I really don’t care about the weather, so I don’t bother with the small-talk. I want to know everything else.”
She also has some pretty good stories to tell. On paper, Noack seems straightforward: She's a Davenport native, wife and a mother of two. She studied to be a schoolteacher and spent more than a decade teaching at-risk students in the Pleasant Valley Community School District.
But then, something happened. She knew she could keep teaching for the next few decades — probably the rest of her life — but she had other dreams to take a crack at.
“I just knew I had more I wanted to do, and I thought, ‘Why do the same thing over and over every single day,’” she said. “I just can’t do that."
So, she made a "huge decision" to find a spot in the music industry. Ideally, she would like to be a tour manager. She sent out at least 200 resumes to different bands and brands, telling her story and pitching her skills.
“I just wouldn’t take no as an answer a lot of the times,” she said. “It’s all about the people you know, so I just kept trying to meet people in different fields. I didn’t want the fact that I lived in the Quad-Cities to stop me.”
And it didn’t.
Now, Noack has a list of jobs that might you give you whiplash. Event coordinator at Rockers Against Bullying. Brand ambassador and model for AXE and Specter, an electric bass and guitar company. Production assistant for the Goo Goo Dolls. Owner of an entertainment company.
“In five years, I don’t where I’ll be, because I think I would’ve already done those things I want to do right now,” she said. “I’ll have brand new dreams by then.”
Admittedly, she has a busy, almost overwhelming, schedule most weeks. She can’t remember the last time she watched TV or lounged around in her sweatpants. But she doesn’t crave that kind of down time. She craves Thursday and Friday nights at the pub, where she’s usually working until 3 a.m. or so.
“My chill looks different than a lot of other people’s chill,” she said. “I feel like I get paid to do all of my favorite hobbies, so it never seems like a chore.”
On this Thursday night, Noack is certainly in her chill zone. She’s behind the bar, and her best friend of more than 30 years is only a few feet away.
A few customers can’t decide between the selections of brews at Pub 1848, so Noack tells them to try something called the Fresh Squeezed IPA by Deschutes Brewery. It’s her go-to suggestion. And then, she tells them to sit down and hang out. Noack has never met a stranger she didn’t want to see smile and share a beer with.
“When people sit down, I want to know them. I want to know their secrets and those things they want to do in their craziest dreams but haven’t done yet,” she said. And, then, she wants to ask them a question.
"What's stopping you?"