Familiar face: Charlotte Graf played Janis Joplin in the first tribute night at The Blue Door on Friday


Twice-monthly ‘tribute nights’ featuring talented Whakatipu entertainers started at Arrowtown’s The Blue Door on Friday when local singer Charlotte Graf hit the stage.

The shows are being organised by Queenstown vocal coach and impresario Margaret O’Hanlon.

The format is entertainers — be they a singer, muso, poet or storyteller — perform two 55-minute shows — one at 6.30pm and another at 9pm — on the second and fourth Friday of every month.

‘‘I like getting people I know are talented, but have very few outlets, to think creatively and come up with something we haven’t seen before.

‘‘This is the way Bette Midler made her start, Loudon Wainwright III made his start, even Leonard Cohen made his.

‘‘That is how I made my start.’’

O’Hanlon says there’s not been a local showcase like this since, well, Showcase, in the 1990s, because there hasn’t been a venue.

The Blue Door, which seats 60, is ideal, she says, as it’s intimate and there’s no competing noise from non-show patrons.

‘‘This is really the first time I’ve worked with the management of a venue [since the ’90s] who is willing to come to terms with our terms.’’

Graf did a “retrospective on her life as an entertainer in Queenstown, going from the
bedroom, as she puts it, to the stage, and on her muse, Janis Joplin’’.

Graf won O’Hanlon’s Starry Eyed in 2000 as a Joplin look-alike, singing Piece Of My Heart, and reprised her in O’Hanlon’s 27 musical, in 2013.

The next tribute night, on July 23, features Pol Nichol son and Andy Bell performing Crowded House numbers under the Scottish-sounding title, ‘Crooded In The Hoose’.

Other performers lined up include veteran muso Noel Coutts, who’ll traverse his ‘‘life and times’’, and Tim Medland, whose tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel’s entitled ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road to The Blue Door’.

O’Hanlon’s committed to three months of tribute nights, but hopes they’ll become permanent.

Tickets for shows are $10 via Eventbrite.