Local cabbie amped for Songstars

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Queenstown teacher-turned-taxi driver Marc Hamilton has found song-writing inspiration inside his cab. 

The Green Cabs driver, who quit teaching to give him more flexibility to perform live gigs, penned his entry for this year’s Songstars competition while on the job. 

“I started writing it in the cab – it was a quiet day. This melody came into my head and lyrics whilst in the taxi.” 

The end result is Hamilton’s song This time, which he calls a good old-fashioned rock number. 

Hamilton, one of 11 finalists in Queenstown’s original singer-songwriter contest Songstars, will perform it live over the three nights of the competition which leaves the audience to vote for the winner. 

Of his song, Hamilton says: “It’s about living in the moment. Often we get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s about enjoying the moment we’re in rather than worrying about tomorrow or dwelling on yesterday. 

“Songstars has been a good incentive to work towards because in Queenstown you just get caught up in the covers scene.” 

Brazilian-born Queenstowner Renata Rubni is among the finalists who’ve been polishing their original numbers in rehearsals during the past month. 

Rubni, the Hilton Queenstown housekeeping supervisor, says her song Wonderland is inspired by life in Queenstown.
“At the time of writing it I was reading Alice in Wonderland, and many things, whilst not the same, I could compare. 

It’s about living in Queenstown and enjoying the moments we have in this peculiar place.” 

Rubni, writing songs since she was a youngster, first started singing in church and can’t wait to put herself at the mercy of the Songstars audience. 

“It’s nice when you have the opportunity to show your own thing. Most of us play in town and play mostly covers so it’s nice to show what you can do.” 

First prize is $1000 and the chance to record their song. 

The performers will be supported by a polished backing band. 

They are keyboardist Nick Lynch, drummer Yuki Brown, bassist Thom Bentley, guitarist Pol Nicholson, trumpeter Martin Wightman, saxophonist Nigel Hirst and fiddler Natsuko Okazaki. Backing singers are Pearly McGrath, Ailsa Williamson and co-organiser Margaret O’Hanlon.

All you need to know
What: Songstars
When: Next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, June 7, 8 and 9
Where: Arrowtown Hall
Cost: $40 ($20 if 15 and under)