The King is coming to Arrowtown

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By LUCY WORMALD

Five-piece band Ginger & Tonic will be delivering Elvis Presley’s biggest hits at four Blue and Suede Shoes tiny concerts at Arrowtown’s The Blue Door in May.

Vocalist Charlotte Graf promises the show – originally scheduled this past weekend – will be no carbon copy of Presley’s, and instead is a ‘‘post-modern jukebox’’ take on the classics.

‘‘It’s for those who love Presley music, but even if they don’t, it’s got a jazz and blues twist with it,’’ Graf says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger & Tonic formed last year after double bassist Martin Rylev spied Graf at an open mic and invited her for a jam.

She says it turned into something they really enjoyed and when the opportunity arose, they pulled the right people together.

Rylev and Graf were joined last year by guitarist Alex Pyle, drummer Martin Guy, and saxophonist/keyboardist Nigel Hirst, “all professional musos”, and the band became a unit.

‘‘We’ve all been working together here and there through different shows and band formulations over the years.

“We’re one big family, really.’’

After a successful string of shows last year, titled Ex’s and Oh’s, where the band belted out jazzy renditions of hook-up and break-up songs, Graf was eager to perform Presley with a similar twist.

‘‘I’ve always had this idea to do a bit of an Elvis tribute, and it slots in really well with this format.

‘‘The boys were really keen because the music is so phenomenal and so well known.’’

Graf, who has been involved with rock and roll musicals and musical platforms in the Basin for over 23 years, says Presley’s influence on her music has been there from the start.

‘‘It turns out that my very first song that I sang back in 1987 at my girls’ high talent quest variety show was one of the first recordings Elvis did.

‘‘When I saw that, I thought that’ll have to go on the show.’’

And the Elvis experience won’t stop there.

‘‘What I’ve been doing is reading about him — I’ve been given a couple of biographies and it’s quite fascinating … I’ve made some notes that intrigue me to sprinkle throughout the set.’’

Of particular amusement to Graf is the debauchery synonymous with Presley.

‘‘Back in ’56 his movements were regarded as so vulgar and rude he had police attending shows to make sure he didn’t wiggle around too much, so he would wiggle his pinky finger instead and the crowd would go wild.’’

Laughing, Graf says she’s interested if such a move at her show will garner the same reaction.

The fun nature of the show will be enhanced by the intimacy of The Blue Door venue, she says.

‘‘Musicians love putting on shows [here], it’s such a treat … it’s a little more specialised because you’ve got the audience’s attention, they can listen and be entertained.

‘‘This venue and this formula for tiny room concerts is wonderful and gives us musicians something to dream up … what do we think people might enjoy as a night out?’’

Ginger & Tonic, The Blue Door Bar, May 6 and 7

lucy.wormald@scene.co.nz