Music bouncing off the mountains

Music lovers will be spoilt for choice in the Queenstown Lakes district this summer, with an abundance of festivals on the calendar. ODT staff reporters explain who is appearing at no fewer than six big musical events.

Leading the way in the Queenstown-Lakes summer of music will be one of the bigger events and the only two-day music festival in the South Island: Rhythm and Alps on December 30 and 31.

The festival is expected to be a sell-out.

Featuring a huge line-up of New Zealand and international DJs and other musical acts, the annual festival will, for the first time, draw up to 9500 people - including as many as 5000 campers - to Robrosa Station, in the Cardrona Valley.

A 15-year consent for Rhythm and Alps was issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council earlier this year, after organisers sought to relocate the festival from Methven, in Canterbury.

The long list of performers includes Rudimental, Shapeshifter and P-Money on day one, and the Veils, Tahuna Breaks and DJ Zinc on day two.

New Year's Eve at the Lake Hawea Hotel will have a country vibe this year with new event The Branding, featuring New Zealand country rock/pop artists Jody Direen, Kaylee Bell, the Heartleys, Cam Scott, Aaron Jury, Maggie Ruddenklau and Bex Murray.

The name of the 1100-capacity event came about partly because it is a ''branding exercise'' for its organiser, the growing online Rural TV channel, executive producer Sarah Perriam said.

''And the connotations with mustering like-minded people to have a great night for New Year which I say [has been] lacking for that genre for a long time in the Wanaka/Hawea area.''

She hoped The Branding would help boost people's respect for the modern country music industry in New Zealand.

On January 2, the Lake Hawea Hotel hosts the second Summerlands festival, featuring Hollie Smith, Ahori Buzz, Alix Perez, Dub FX and more than 20 other acts.

Summerlands co-organiser Leon Eru said the event was originally planned to take place over four days, starting on December 30. However, the announcement Rhythm and Alps was coming to town on clashing dates called for a reschedule.

''It was a business decision for us obviously [to change dates] ... we just had to suck it up basically, but now that we've got through that, I think if we can both run a sell-out festival over that time period, I think it's great for everyone,'' Mr Eru said.

''Rhythm and Alps is bringing a lot more people to town ... a huge amount of people that weren't in the area last year.''

Summerlands - which would be ''more boutique, more intimate'' than Rhythm and Alps - was already shaping up to sell all 1200 tickets again, he said.

Next on the summer calendar is Wanaka's hugely popular Rippon Festival, which returns to Rippon Vineyard on February 1 for the 10th time.

The festival, which promotes solely New Zealand music, will feature musical genres from soul to punk to electro, including Fat Freddy's Drop, the Phoenix Foundation, Ladi6 and Die! Die! Die!.

Rippon is held every two years and organised by Lake Wanaka SouNZ, which puts all profits back into future events and the Wanaka community. Since the first festival in 1998, more than $80,000 has been donated to supporting music, youth, and the environment within the region.

Rippon will cater for about 4500 festival-goers.

Classic United States rock idols Lynyrd Skynyrd and Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas, join forces with hit British group 10cc for the Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert, near Queenstown, on February 15.

Lynyrd Skynyrd shot to fame in the 1970s as a result of its driving live performances and signature tunes such as the rock anthems Sweet Home Alabama and Saturday Night Special.

Mickey Thomas, the voice behind Starship, recorded a string of hits including No Way Out and We Built This City and the No 1 Oscar-nominated hit Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now from the movie Mannequin.

English art rock group 10cc is responsible for some of the most lyrically dextrous and musically varied songs of the 1970s and 1980s, including Dreadlock Holiday and Donna.

Gibbston Valley Winery chief executive Greg Hunt said the three previous successful concerts had resulted in the Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert establishing itself on New Zealand's entertainment calendar.

''Our Queenstown venue is in a stunning setting with a natural amphitheatre and an iconic Central Otago backdrop and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with their southern rock, will feel right at home,'' Mr Hunt said.

The eighth annual Classic Hits Winery Tour is on in Gibbston for the second consecutive year on February 21, at Waitiri Creek.

The winery will host New Zealand music greats the Exponents, Australian Idol winner turned transtasman pop superstar Stan Walker and a resurgent Breaks Co-Op, returning to the New Zealand stage for the first time since its award-winning track The Otherside in 2005.

Walker said a Kiwi summer on the Winery Tour was something he had been dreaming of for years.

''Sharing the stage with New Zealand music royalty in the most beautiful outdoor settings that Aotearoa has to offer? What an absolute blessing.''


Summer of music
• December 30 and 31, Rhythm and Alps, Robrosa Station, Cardrona Valley, featuring Rudimental, Shapeshifter, P-Money and more.

• New Year's Eve, Lake Hawea Hotel, The Branding, featuring country artists Jody Direen, Kaylee Bell and more.

• January 2, Lake Hawea Hotel, Summerlands festival, featuring Hollie Smith, Ahori Buzz, Alix Perez, Dub FX and more.

• February 1, Rippon Festival, Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka, featuring Fat Freddy's Drop, the Phoenix Foundation, Ladi6, Die! Die! Die! and more.

• February 15, Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert, near Queenstown, featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd, Starship and 10cc

• February 21, Classic Hits Winery Tour, Waitiri Creek, Gibbston, featuring the Exponents, Stan Walker and Breaks Co-Op.