Nova Scotia

Matt Minglewood still rockin' at 75

Minglewood says the key to his career has been staying true to himself, while finding new ways to connect with fans. 

'You still have to get out there and do it,' says the Cape Breton musician

Matt Minglewood is seen in this 2015 photo. A Matt Minglewood Band 75th birthday celebration at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax originally scheduled for next month has been postponed until June due to public measures related to the pandemic. (Matt Minglewood/Facebook)

Cape Breton musician Matt Minglewood says age is just a number.

Minglewood is celebrating his 75th birthday on Monday. And if it weren't for the pandemic, he'd be performing at venues across Canada, entertaining fans with a mix of blues, country and rock.

"I'm older now, so I don't really want to get in the van and drive across the country like I used to," Minglewood said.

"It's changed in that aspect, but you still have to get out there and do it." 

Minglewood has been a professional musician for nearly six decades and was inducted into the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame in 2020.

Minglewood is a guitarist, singer and songwriter who's been performing professionally for nearly 6 decades. (Joe Sampson/Rockpixels)

"I always appreciated the blues guys and country guys that just kept doing it," Minglewood said.

"I saw B.B. King when he was older … I was bemoaning the fact that I was 30 years old and only had my first record. He said, 'Oh man, you're a puppy.'

"I've always aspired to be like those guys."

By the mid-1970s, Minglewood and The Minglewood Band would record their first album. A contract with RCA Records soon followed. 

Back then, a great deal of the band's time was spent driving across the country and performing in bars and taverns.

Bob Mersereau, a Fredericton-based music writer, said Minglewood not only helped shaped Canadian rock music ⁠— he put the Maritimes on the map.

And he said that when people from the East Coast began to migrate to the West, so too did Minglewood's music. 

The Matt Minglewood Band joined the Eagles, Blue Rodeo, the Tragically Hip, and Johnny Reid at the 2013 Exploits Valley Salmon Festival concert in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., in 2013. (CBC)

"Those nights in the taverns, especially when Matt was really cooking, were just amazing," Mersereau said. "You know, he'd be up on the tables, walking across, draft glasses would be flying."

Asked about the highlights of his career, Minglewood cited holding his first record in his hand and late nights performing for crowds big and small. 

Another fond memory is riding a rearing horse to a concert at Citadel Hill in Halifax and performing alongside ZZ Top and The Beach Boys.

In 2008, he played for troops in Afghanistan and was later rushed off stage because of a Taliban rocket attack. 

Minglewood said the key to his career has been staying true to himself, while finding new ways to connect with fans. 

"Like most careers, you have your highs and lows," said Minglewood. "And I've gone through them. I think I've done, well, at least four comebacks."

The Matt Minglewood Band has been described as 'having one foot steeped in the musical roots of blues and country and the other knee-deep in rock.' (Erin Pottie/CBC)

North River-based singer-songwriter Angelo Spinazzola said he remembers sneaking into bars to see Minglewood when he was only a teenager.

Despite his young age at the time, Spinazzola was invited to perform alongside Minglewood and other musicians. 

"He had this big 'stache and long, long hair and his great hat," said Spinazzola. "He knew I played harmonica, so he gave me a chance. All of that stuff just really shaped and formed me. And I think that Matt was highly influential and highly instrumental in the path that I took."

Minglewood said he'll eventually stop playing, but not any time soon. He's now planning several concerts throughout the Maritimes to celebrate his recent milestone. 

"When I can't perform right, that's when I'll hang it up," Minglewood said. "As long as I can sing and play, I'm going to do it."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Pottie

Reporter

Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at erin.pottie@cbc.ca.

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