Local teens ready to rock

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Young Queenstown musicians are following in the footsteps of idols by competing in the country’s top talent contest.

The Smokefree Rockquest regional finals, at Queenstown Memorial Centre tomorrow night, sees eight Wakatipu bands, duos and soloists out of 15 from Central Otago performing originals.

Turning 25, Smokefree Rock-quest has an unrivalled list of winners and entrants who’re now household names in Kiwi music.

Opshop, Kora, The Black Seeds, Evermore, Kimbra, Midnight Youth, Ladyhawke and Anika Moa all cut their teeth at Rockquest.

Ruby Bain, singer and guitarist for Queenstown band and contest entrant Euphoric Division, says: “It’s an awesome list.

“We’re a brand new band – we haven’t even names for our songs – but we’ve all been heavily involved in other bands before, we’re all musical, so to be given this opportunity in Queenstown is cool.”

The Wakatipu High student came second in the regional finals two years ago as a solo artist.

Bain, 17, is joined by guitarist Josh Mehrtens, also 17, drummer Bryce Baldey, 18, and bass guitarist Sam Maxwell, 18. The quartet played the RockFormation Stage at Queenstown Winter Festival’s Community Carnival.

“It was just me and my guitar a few years ago,” Bain say.

“But we wanted to do something different and it’s so much fun in a band, putting ideas forward, seeing what works and what doesn’t. We all come from different genres so we’ve incorporated different aspects. We’re not quite sure how it’ll go but should be good.”

Angus Reid, Lucy and Izzy, Violet and Jemima, Six Shooter, John Manulea, Bahip and Isabella D’Aiello are the other performers from Wakatipu High.

Youngsters from Wanaka’s Mt Aspiring College and Alexandra’s Dunstan High make up the bill. Winners and placings are announced on the night, along with other awards including musicianship, women’s musicianship, best song, best lyrics and people’s choice.

The top two bands and two solo/duos will submit videos to be considered for the national finals in Auckland in September.

The overall prize includes music gear worth $13,000, scholarships, radio and video play plus more.

Founded by music teachers Glen Common and Pete Rainey, Rockquest is the only nationwide, original music, youth event.

Common says: “Over the 25 years it’s been a positive influence on thousands of young people’s lives and created a way for kids to communicate with each other and with parents and teachers.

“We see grandparents and parents coming along to see their kids excel on stage, under lights in a real theatre – it’s a professional set-up and they respond.”

All you need to know

What: Rockquest regional finals

When: 7pm, tomorrow

Where: Queenstown Memorial Centre

Cost: $20 on the door