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Bernie Marsden Returns to India This Week

The rock and blues guitarist, known for his work with U.K.’s Whitesnake, has collaborated with rock band Terra Rosa Gypsies

Anurag Tagat Jan 18, 2019

Bernie Marsden (L) with Billy Gibbons from American rockers ZZ Top. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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It’s been four years to the week that British blues and rock guitarist Bernie Marsden last performed in India with former Indian Ocean guitarist Susmit Sen. But the former Whitesnake guitarist did make a trip down to Goa in 2014, when he collaborated with singer-composer Vineet Sharma and his rock band Terra Rosa Gypsies.

When asked about collaborations, he reminds us that he just performed with Irish rock legend Van Morrison and prog veterans Yes’ former keyboardist Rick Wakeman. “Every week is something different,” Marsden says over the phone from New Delhi. The guitarist will perform as part of multi-city music and dance concert tour Jamgarh, which kicked off in New Delhi on January 16th and runs on until January 24th in Goa.

Sharma and Marsden met at the Guitare en Scene Festival in the French town of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois in 2012. Sharma says, “Today I can say Bernie and I go a long way because we met at a guitar festival in 2012. We were backstage together, and there was a lot of one on one time.” The 10-day session in Goa, which Marsden recounts as “very enjoyable,” has led to collaborative material that Marsden and the Terra Rosa Gypsies recorded at Abbey Road Studios with engineer Rob Cass.

Terra Rosa Gypsies. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

In an interview ahead of the shows, Marsden and Sharma talk about their collaboration. Excerpts:

When you first met in Goa in 2014, were there no shows on the cards?

I never thought about it in that situation to play live. I thought it’d be nice to play some music and spend some time with an Indian musician and person In India. Took a little while, but good things take a little while, you know?

What are plans like to release this material?

Bernie Marsden: I think that’s kind of down to Vineet and what he wants to do. If I’m able to help, then great. It’s good to be over here and we’ll do some more things. We’ll create some new music as well. This is still new music.

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Vineet Sharma: Obviously the project came up with nine songs and out of that four were released by Zee Music and the balance music is going to be released one by one. I was committed to Bernie coming back. Jamgarh started out as a congregation of musicians in the mountains. It was a co-op project and this concept of jamming with Bernie is what I owe to him and the audience as well. It was very experimental. This also gives Bernie a venue like Siri Fort Auditorium. We definitely hope to make more.

Marsden: The whole Jamgarh thing has given us a good reason to perform live together.

What draw you to collaborations?

Only last Tuesday, I performed with Van Morrison and Rick Wakeman. Every week is something different. That’s the best part about it for me. It’s always interesting. I’ve been around the block a couple of times (laughs) and I like to do stuff that really interests me and travel a little bit and see countries. In the early days, I only ever saw airports and gigs.

How do you plan your set for a show like this, where there’s different genres of music involved?

I think we’ll try and keep it fairly loose, keep the vibe going. It’s all about playing from the heart. Having a structure to work around”¦. Every gig will be different. I don’t like being in a situation where you know”¦ you’re playing the same song at 10 past 9 every night. That doesn’t really work for me.

And I imagine that’s so because you’re a bluesman.

That’s right. I played with a guy who was 85 years old, his name is Bobby Rush, just before Christmas. He’s a real blues man and we were just following. He sings from the heart, so we just followed him and it sounded fantastic.

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You’re releasing your book, Tales of Tone and Volume. There’s probably a lot of stories in there, right, in addition to the guitars of course. Is there any you can share?

I did an interview with BBC last week and I said there, it’s like a visual diary. Every guitar has a story and when I took the guitars out of their cases, there were hotel envelopes, gig setlists that were 25-30 years old sometimes. There are different names on them and people I’ve forgotten about. I didn’t bring any books with me this time because they’re too damn heavy (laughs). It’s doing very well.

What are your plans in India outside of the shows? Buy any Indian guitars?

I’m always looking. I’m lucky that way, because people always bring me instruments and they come to me and I don’t have to go looking. I’ll be in a town somewhere in Bulgaria or Russia or Norway, even in India and someone will say, ”˜I wonder if you’re interested in this?’ and I’ll say, ”˜Yeah, I’ll check it out!’ There are beautiful instruments all over the world. You never really know until you open that case and know what’s inside.

What else is coming up through 2019?                 

Yeah there are a few things already in motion. I’ve got a few festivals booked in Europe, small rock and blues festivals, playing to around 2,000 to 3,000 people, where I can headline.

I’m playing with Ginger Baker in April. We’ve worked together before. I’ve just done a new album of old traditional blues stuff, which is going to be out in the spring. I’ve been busy, in and out of the studio a lot.

Tour dates:
January 18th -   WIC Club, Dehradun
January 19th – DLF City Club, Gurgaon
January 20th – Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon
January 23rd and 24th - Riva Beach Resort, Goa

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