Big festival of music set to go live

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 26/04/2014

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Elvis is in the building, The Doobies rolled in yesterday, Pretties have sound-checked and the Seeds have taken temporary root.

That may not make much sense, unless you have a ticket to Queenstown's inaugural Blues and Roots Festival, which features Elvis Costello and the Imposters, The Doobie Brothers, Fly My Pretties and The Black Seeds as headliners.

The festival kicks off at 11am with a set from The Killer Seas, the Queenstown band that won the opening slot in a competition. Also featured are all-female Johnny Cash cover band The Johnny's and deep blues specialist King Leo.

Festival director Grant Hilton, who is a major player in Australia's long-running, internationally acclaimed Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, told The Southland Times he was looking forward to the moment the gig kicked off.

"It's all about the music and providing an atmosphere where people can enjoy themselves," he said.

"The forecast is for good weather, and it's rained hard enough to rain itself out so, hopefully, we'll see faces from all over the south and all over the country here enjoying themselves.

"If you're reading this and you're not here, get yourself here and we'll look after you."

After leaving Wellington as a youth and spending many decades immersed in the Australian music industry, first as personal protection for many stars, then a club owner and promoter, Hilton visited Invercargill in late 2012.

"My father was from there but I knew nothing about the place. I ended up spending a bit of time in Queenstown, met some really cool people then, next thing you know, there's a Blues and Roots festival happening here - it's just how it works sometimes."

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