The hills around Queenstown are alive with the sound of music as summer’s festival season gets into full swing.
More than two dozen acts will have performed for thousands of music fans at open-air gigs in the resort by the end of this month.
Last Saturday’s sun-drenched Shotover Sunshine Festival was heralded a huge success by revellers and musicians alike – although it proved attracting top musicians can be easier than drawing a crowd to see them in a tourism-dominated town.
About 3000 people attended the biennial spectacular, fewer than in 2011 despite increased capacity – but they at least drank enough beer to ensure promoters weren’t left out of pocket.
Next is the annual Summer Winery Tour at new venue Waitiri Creek, on Tuesday, followed by Pat Benatar, Bachman & Turner and America all at Gibbston Valley Station in two Saturdays’ time.
The Summery Winery Tour boasts another impressive line-up of Kiwi musicians headlined by perennial Queenstown visitors Fat Freddy’s Drop, who played the inaugural Shotover Sunshine Festival.
Freddy’s trombonist Joe Lindsay is looking forward to the Queenstown leg of the 17-date tour. “We love playing down there,” Lindsay says.
“We’re actually really sad not be down this time for the Shotover Sunshine Festival because it was so great last time. I wish I was there, such a good time, the next day as well all hanging out but you can’t do everything.
Playing in the vineyards is also magic – the tour has been fantastic so far, like mini-festivals.”
The Wellington seven-piece will play established tracks and new songs from its third studio album Blackbird, which was due to be released before the tour but has been delayed until June.
“We’re road testing a couple of new ones and they’re sounding really good so we’re happy with that,” Lindsay says.
“We’ve finished tracking [for Blackbird] which is positive, so as soon as we get off this tour we’ll be into the studio to mix it and get all that side of things done. The meat and potatoes is pretty much done, it’s just finishing.
“We’re aiming our release for the European summer tours. Ideally it would be ready now but, you know, we take our time.”
The album sees New Zealand’s most successful band re-explore dub-laced electronica, harking back to its first jammed gigs in parties around Wellington almost 14 years ago.
“We’ve been reinvestigating our long-form jam roots but there’s also a lot of really nice, straight-up soul tunes which is great fun.
“One we’ve been doing called Bones is a straight up soul-slammer. And then there are other more techno-orientated dance tunes. You sort of play live samples with horns on dance tracks, incorporating elements of sample-based music – repetitive phrases, horn stabs, that kind of thing.”
It makes for an interesting mix for horns player Lindsay, who comes from a jazz background and loves his band’s jam-happy style.
“I just love getting surprised, love when it all goes haywire and crazy and we don’t know what’s going to happen next – that’s when it gets really exciting for me and the rest of the guys.
“But I also love just playing something really tight you know, really hard and tight and just playing the song really well. For me the more memorable gigs are when you do what you do well, jam well, tight well.”
More Kiwi talent playing at Gibbston’s winery gig
Anika, Boh & Hollie Kiwi songstresses Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith have enthralled audiences with a string of powerful live performances since joining together as a supergroup last year. The talented vocalists released their debut group album earlier this month.
The Adults Shihad frontman Jon Toogood drew on connections made during more than two decades in the industry to pull together The Adults in 2010. The self-titled June 2011 album features a series of artists that reads like a roll call of Kiwi music. Touring the album with Toogood are prominent Dimmer vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Shayne Carter and Fur Patrol’s Julia Deans.
Clara van Wel New Zealand’s Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel will be first on stage at Waitiri. The 15-year-old guitarist, singer and songwriter’s winning song Where Do You Find Love debuted at number three in the NZ Top 40 and was certified gold within two weeks. An album is due out next month.
All you need to know
What: The seventh annual Classic Hits Winery Tour
Who: Fat Freddy’s Drop, Anika, Boh & Hollie, The Adults and special guest Clara van Wel
Where: Waitiri Creek, Gibbston
When: Tuesday, gates open 5pm, show starts 5.30pm and concludes 10pm
Cost: Kids under 12 given free admittance with each adult ticket-holder. Adults from $78.75