Dugan happy to tour Central

Country music group the NZ Highwaymen (clockwise, from  top left) Brendan Dugan, Gray Bartlett...
Country music group the NZ Highwaymen (clockwise, from  top left) Brendan Dugan, Gray Bartlett and Dennis Marsh  will be performing with Frankie Stevens (bottom left) in Wanaka and Alexandra  next month as part of a national tour. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
NZ Highwaymen member Brendon Dugan is looking forward to revisiting some of his favourite Central Otago haunts when he and his bandmates arrive in the district at the end of June.

The Tauranga-based country musician is touring with Gray Bartlett and Dennis Marsh, with Frankie Stevens stepping in at late notice for Eddie Low, who is recovering from cancer surgery.

Dugan said he spent many years in Queenstown as an entertainer.

While he was not primarily a songwriter, he wrote a ballad, Mackenzie and his Dog, based on a legend of James Mackenzie, the South Canterbury sheep rustler. 

He also wrote a song about the Waitaki River, he told the Wānaka Sun recently. 

"I was 18 months, on and off, in Queenstown with Trevor Gamble. I used to go down to the Shotover [Jet] and help them. It was in the ’70s, when things were fairly hard work and in those days we used to carry the fuel down to the bridge in just a couple of old jerry cans," he  said.

The Highwaymen were all good mates who had known each other for more than 50 years and had toured the United States together, he said.

"Although the older you get the more you want to be at home, once you get on stage, away you go," he said.

"We do the songs people want to hear. They are popular songs that people want to sing to. We have never had a problem getting people to sing along. People just love to sing. And if you are having an off night, they don’t notice that so much," he  said.

It would be the Highwaymen’s first time performing at the Lake Wānaka Centre, so Dugan was keen to see how the venue went off. 

Another thing Dugan is keen to do is to indulge his passion for race cars and spend some time at the Highland Speedway in Cromwell.

Eddie Low said he made the difficult decision to withdraw following gastric cancer and stomach surgery.

He  did not want to let people down and wanted the show to go on, he said.

"I truly hoped to be strong enough for the tour, but it's just not possible right now.

"Frankie is an entertainment veteran and I have full faith in his ability to deliver an incredible show," he said. 

Stevens said he regarded Low as a "great music taonga" and he would endeavour to make his friend proud. 


Tour details

  • WHAT: The NZ Highwaymen Tour 2024
  • WHERE/WHEN: June 29, 7pm, Lake Wānaka Centre; June 30, 2pm matinee, Alexandra Memorial Theatre
  • ABOUT: Veteran musicians Dennis Marsh, Brendon Dugan, Gray Bartlett are performing with Frankie Stevens. Eddie Low has withdrawn for health reasons.
  • MORE INFO: www.nzhighwaymen.com