Fifty years and still singing the Blues

Marking 50 years is no small thing for a rock and roller, and eminent bluesman Midge Marsden is doing it in style.

Headlining at the Raglan Club this Anniversary Weekend – Sunday, January 28, Midge recently released a two-CD box set to celebrate a half-century of recording.

Dubbed The MIDGE MARSDEN Collection, it’s an anthology of Midge’s musical history covering classic R&B roots, country-fused, big band and blues rock genres.

At 72, retirement from recording and live gigs is on the horizon and Midge says the CD, the Raglan gig and a nationwide tour starting in March may be his swansong to the entertainment industry.

“I really am going to pull the pin, if someone were to ring and say ‘hey we’ve got a gig for you how’s 10 grand sound’ of course I’m going to take it,” he laughs.

And he’s also not ruling out playing with Raglan band The Mudsharks who were legendary in the 80s with their Mudshark Monday gigs at the Harbour View Hotel.

Technically he’s got closer to 60 years in the music industry under his belt – joining 60s band Bari and the Breakaways at 16, followed by a radio stint with NZBC, time playing with Wellington cult band The Country Flyers in the 70s and several years in Australia with The Phil Manning Band.

He began a solo career forming The Midge Marsden Connection on his return to New Zealand in the mid-80s, which morphed into The Midge Marsden Band who went on to release gold album Burning Rain in 1990.

Any bluesman worth their salt needs to spend time in the United States and Midge spent several years touring the country with his band.

He became good friends with blues and rock legends Mississippi Willie Foster, Bobby Mack and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Midge would often stay at Stevie’s house and tour with him, playing harmonica.

A former Whaingaroa local for 33 years, Midge bought a home by the old cement silos for $12,500 in the 80s.

“I was almost a local,” he laughs.

Sadly, he says work commitments drove him back to Auckland and he sold the Rose Street house a couple of years ago.

Born in New Plymouth, Midge says he tried surfing in the famous Taranaki breaks back when the boards were big and cumbersome.

“Back then the boards were huge big battleships and we got these little trolleys on the end of our bikes and we used to puff and pant all the way down to the beach, puff and pant paddling out to the waves and puff and pant riding back again.”

“I had the fear factor thing – I was quite small and not very confident but I gave it a go.”

He also gave it another go in Raglan but says body surfing is more his style.

“I love to swim, body surf and walk the beaches – I gotta say I really miss it (Raglan).”

Midge Marsden Giveaway

The Raglan Chronicle has two double passes to the Raglan Club gig on Sunday, January 28 and two limited edition copies of The MIDGE MARSDEN Collection (2CD) which include a 12-page glossy booklet with track by track notes and accompanying photographs to giveaway. Email: info@raglanchronicle.co.nz with your name and contact number by Tuesday, January 23, to go in the draw.