Stan surprise stuns southern singer

Invercargill Verdon College pupil Gabriel Lal  practises piano at school after placing in the top...
Invercargill Verdon College pupil Gabriel Lal practises piano at school after placing in the top 30 of the Smokefreerockquest finals, two weeks ago. Photo: Sharon Reece
A Southland singer-songwriter was "stunned" to find he would  be warming the stage for one of his music idols, Stan Walker, later this year.

When 17-year-old Verdon College pupil Gabriel Lal was told he would open  Walker’s New Takeover Tour show in Invercargill, he found it all a bit "unreal".

"That morning I mentioned to my mum that it would be cool if one day I could meet Stan Walker; he’s such an inspiration to me.

"I got the news later that night. I was ecstatic, over the moon, it was crazy," he said.

The chance to open for Walker came from his connections with people in the industry, Gabriel said. Despite only realising his musical abilities in the past two years, the pianist and singer has made waves in the Southland music scene. This year he won the Smoke- freerockquest Southland regional finals in the solo/duo category, as well as landing a top 30 spot in the overall competition. The chance to open for Walker could "open a lot of doors" in his music career, but Gabriel said he was staying level-headed.

"[Walker is] definitely an idol in the New Zealand music scene, and definitely an idol to me.

"I’m pretty chill about the whole thing, it’s awesome, but it’s just good to keep a clear head ... and don’t let it get overwhelming."

Gabriel will play a 20-minute set before Walker  at Tillermans Music Lounge on October 26.

- Sharon Reece

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