Busker finalists battle to open Blues & Roots


Six Queenstown bands and soloists are left gunning for a coveted spot to open for Elvis Costello and The Doobie Brothers.

The final of the Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival busking competition is this Saturday.

Whoever wins will open the one-day outdoor music festival the following Saturday, April 26, at Queenstown’s Events Centre in Frankton.

They’ll share a bill with world-class acts Elvis Costello & The Imposters and The Doobie Brothers along with Kiwi favourites The Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties.

The six finalists are new band The Killer Seas, established duo Freefall, former high school rockers The Fletchers and soloists Dafny, Peti Crime and Wolfman Campbell.

“There’s a really good blues and roots feel to all the music they’re delivering,” festival director Grant Hilton says.

“We’re looking for someone with an interesting sound, original music and a great range.

“All the contestants fit those criteria so finals night should be one to remember.”

The finalists – selected from 13 in heats over the past fortnight – will battle it out at Ballarat Street pub Pig & Whistle from 7pm Saturday.

The competition will be judged by two expert mystery judges, with the overall winner announced on the night.

“We’re encouraging locals to come along and support the event, which is free entry, and help decide who gets to perform on the big day,” Hilton says.

The winning act will get to perform on the festival main stage at 11am on Saturday, April 26 – with 15,000 people expected to attend throughout the day. Gates open from 10.30am.

Dunedin’s King Leo Blues Band and Nelson all-girl Johnny Cash tribute band The Johnnys complete the all-day festival line-up.

See tonight’s Mountain Scene for a full guide to the Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival. Catch the busking competition finals at Pig & Whistle, this Saturday, 7pm