While artists across the region are getting ready to take a trip to Cape Breton for next weekend’s East Coast Music Awards, Festival and Conference in Sydney, Dawn and Margie Beaton are taking the long way to the annual event. The duo from Mabou, whose debut album Taste of Gaelic is nominated for an East Coast Music Award in the Roots Traditional Group of the Year category, will be making their way to Sydney via China, where they are performing as part of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race.
Under the banner of Cape Breton Island, the Sydney Ports Authority has taken advantage of the significant international marketing opportunity that the Race offers and sponsored one of the nine yachts in the race this year. As the Cape Breton Clipper and its eight competitors make their way into port in China, Dawn and Margie Beaton will be flying into Qingdao to be a part of the festivities greeting them on March 2.
Participating in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race offers the opportunity for sponsors to organize and host events in key business and tourism ports, to participate in numerous networking situations, and to leverage the significant media exposure that the Clipper race generates throughout the world. The Beatons have a played a role in many of the port activities up to this point, including the kickoff to the race in Hull, England in September, and a visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in October.
“Each port of call brings new opportunities for Cape Breton businesses best aligned with the industries of each country,” says Dawn Beaton, who has seen first-hand how this works, having been involved in three of the eight port of call events. “It’s a chance to make new connections, and to present business strategies to an audience of local companies, as will be the case in Qingdao.”
The dinner on March 2 will feature lobster from Atlantic Canada and be capped off with music by the sisters from Mabou.
“The entire evening gives the locals a great sense of the people and culture that Cape Breton offers,” continues Beaton, “with a hope that new business links will be forged with economic benefit for Cape Breton businesses. It also provides a tourism opportunity to invite tourists to Cape Breton Island and see first hand, all that the music, people and landscape have to offer!”
“The weekend promises to be a well-packed one, but certainly attending the conferences as a self-managed artist will help us and bring new insight into our own genre of music,” says Dawn referring to the many music industry seminars, talks and conferences that go on in the daytime during ECMA.
And as helpful as these sessions will be for Dawn and Margie and their career in music, they have already shown a willingness to give back when they showcased this week at Rankin School in Iona, as part of the Soundwaves series, with opening act Maggie Beaton. The experience reminded Dawn of growing up in Mabou and the impact these kinds of performances can have.
“We had such an excited bunch of students in Iona with the Soundwaves stage, I think we got through to them,” Beaton says. “Having grown up with memories of visiting artists coming to Mabou Consolidated, I can see the impact they had on my childhood, and now fulfilling that role to this generation is humbling. We knew the culture was strong at Rankin School, and they only confirmed it for us with dedicated step dancers of all ages, and many students taking fiddle lessons from another local fiddler, Shelly Campbell, so it’s safe to say that something is working there and the preservation of the culture has a bright future. Reinforcing that with these in-house school concerts will only aid that and give direction for these kids.”
The full schedule for Dawn and Margie during ECMA weekend includes the CBMIC Presents Hometown Throwdown at Smooth Herman’s on Thursday (March 4), followed by a set at the Celtic Colours Festival Club stage in Membertou on Friday (March 5). On Saturday (March 6), they will be a part of the CBC Cape Breton radio broadcast Island Echoes taping and will later appear at the ECMA house party, Orain Taigh at 42 Amelia Street. The girls also have an official showcase on Sunday, March 7 on the RBC Discovery Stage at the Capri Club.
“We’re really looking forward to the Festival Club of Celtic Colours at Membertou. We always look forward to the impromptu jam sessions and great music and crew in October, so having it in abundance in March just adds to the anticipation of the weekend. We’re also playing at Orain Taigh which is an intimate concert set in a house. It’s a great fit with ECMA’s theme this year, and growing up in rural Cape Breton, this is what we thrive on, a good old fashioned house party!”
“It’s our first ECMAs as nominated artists, so the build up, and anticipation for us personally has been so riveting,” adds Beaton. “And then on top of that, to be experiencing China for the first time and returning to ECMA weekend with a showcase every night and having a successful showcase in Iona with the Soundwaves stage, well, it all feels like 20 years of enjoyable work is being rewarded!”