Singer Matt Minglewood’s music has been described as a hybrid with one foot steeped in blues and country and the other knee-deep in rock.
The gifted artist performs Oct. 18th at the Elks Lodge in a show presented by the Central Music Festival Society. Fans can expect cuts from his incredibly diverse repertoire, and of course gems from his latest disc Fly Like Desperados.
“I wanted to work with this band that I have now,” he said, noting a few new members have joined the ranks as of late. Among them are some pretty gifted singers, too, and Minglewood knew he wanted those strengths to be showcased throughout the CD as well.
“They are such nice people to work with, and they are so giving of their time and their talents,” he said. “They wanted this record to be as good as it could be, and they worked hard on it, too,” he said. “I’m really proud of how they’ve played on it, so that’s one of the highlights (of this project) to me.
“We tried to do our best, and I think the best came out on that record,” he said.
Minglewood has a long musical history in Canada. Hailing from Cape Breton, he is, for starters, a natural born musician.
“Nobody in my family really played, except for my grandpa who was a fiddler,” he said, adding that Celtic-oriented tunes were a consistent favourite in family circles. “They were friends with Buddy McMaster (uncle of fiddling star Natalie McMaster). “Natalie’s father said the first person who ever drove him to a gig was my father,” he explained. “He had a big black car,” he added with a laugh. “So we were entrenched in that, and I grew up in it.”
But Minglewood also was listening to radio tunes that brought in a stream of other genres as well.
“The local radio station played country music in the morning and in the afternoon and the evening there were the top 10 hits which were probably pop songs.
“And so I had a whole blend of Celtic music, country music, pop songs of the day. And living here in Cape Breton we are literally only about 300 miles north of New York, so at night we could get stations from New York City and hear R&B and folk and everything else.”
After the fiddle, Minglewood dabbled in piano and then along came acoustic guitar and that was the start of something particularly new.
“I also started singing when I was about four,” he said, adding that his first public performance featured Gaelic songs his grandfather had taught him.
“So I sang at a little community hall and I was scared to death. But I always sang – hits of the day that were on the radio like Marty Robbins. My parents would go to parties and drag us kids around. They’d visit and music would be playing and then they’d get ‘the kid’ to sing Marty Robbins songs. So I always sang – I considered myself a singer who played guitar or the keyboards. I honestly considered myself a singer first.”
Indeed. It isn’t difficult to hear the influences of legendary artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Hank Williams but Minglewood infuses his blues sense with the country and a Celtic element that is in his bones.
By the mid-60s he landed in the band scene and the eventual release of his first album The Red Album in 1976 put him on the map. Those early days were indeed memorable. “We left town and like everyone else, we ran out of gas in Fredericton and found an agent,” he laughed.
“I still love playing music. The hardest part of it is getting there, but the doing it is the fun part. Here I am 71, and still doing it. I had someone tell me once, ‘If you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life’.”
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.