Kiwi blues icon promises a few surprises

Blues enthusiasts will get a chance to hear a New Zealand legend perform when Midge Marsden takes to the stage at the New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival in Christchurch next month.

Marsden, New Zealand's pre-eminent rhythm and blues artist, is teaming up with local guitar hero Harry Harrison and the best of Christchurch's blues community to present Voices of the Blues on Saturday, April 18 in the James Hay Theatre of the Town Hall.

Voice of the Blues is a two part event. The first half of the show will see jazz/blues historian Neill Pickard take on the role of MC and host to a selection of Christchurch's finest blues singers and musicians, as they present a variety of blues music ranging from early Mississippi delta style to New Orleans, Texas, Chicago, country and jazz blends.

In the second part of the concert, Marsden, whose professional career spans almost 50 years, fires it up. He will be backed by Harrison and the 'Down Home Shakedown' band.

"People sometimes have fairly fixed views of their interpretation of blues. The idea of this concert is to show people there are a whole lot of different styles and variety within the rhythm and blues spectrum. Each song in my set will feature a different genre and present a different style, from jump swing, rural blues, post war electric and songs from my own catalogue, every song will tell a story, " says Marsden, who will be pulling out his trademark harmonica for part of the concert, including his rendition of Midnight Special.

"This is going to be a really entertaining but also informative concert - with lots of variety, " says Marsden, who is keeping a few surprises for the audience up his sleeve.

He has played thousands of concerts to thousands of fans and has performed with a list of artists that reads like a definitive whose who of NZ music luminaries, and says he very excited about playing at the jazz festival.

"It's a privilege to be involved in this festival" says Marsden. "I haven't played Christchurch for a while and I'm really looking forward to it.

"Harry and I have been working on this concert for several months now, and are both tired of the phone and emailing. We just want to hit the stage and play."

The 2009 New Zealand International Jazz and Blues Festival begins on April 13 and will see the Grammy award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama performing in New Zealand for the first time. Also performing are the Nairobi Trio, Peter Urlich and Band, Jennine Bailey, and Emma Pask, who has been described by legendary jazz musician James Morrison as 'the greatest gift to Australian jazz vocals in the last decade'.

"It's going to be a very memorable few days for jazz and blues lovers - they really are spoilt for choice, " says festival director Jodi Wright.

Midge Marsden and Harry Harrison are performing on Saturday April 18, 8pm, at the James Hay Theatre.

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