Eastlink East Coast Music Week (ECMW), March 6-10 in Halifax, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the East Coast Music Awards and the showing of Cape Breton talent throughout the weekend reveals what a great year it’s been for many local musicians and industry professionals.
There will be a litany of shows populated with “must-see” bands during ECMW, but the one not to miss is the Cape Breton Embassy stage March 7th and 8th at the Marquee Ballroom. Presented by the Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative, the Embassy will showcase a line up of outstanding Cape Breton talent.
From Slowcoaster and Matt Minglewood to Carleton Stone and Jason MacDonald, Inverness natives the Town Heroes, to local favorites Heartwood Slacks, there will be no shortage of great music Thursday night. Friday night is an all-star lineup of traditional players including Ashley MacIsaac, the Beaton Sisters Band, J.P. Cormier, Chrissy Crowley, Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year nominees Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac, and Sprag Session, who are nominated for Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year. Sprag Session fiddler Colin Grant says the nomination of his band’s first album reflects the success of their live performance.
“We’re pretty proud to have a nomination,” says Grant, “especially for this record, our band’s debut effort. We feel lucky that folks from all over have responded so positively, as we feel that the album well-represents the dynamics of our live show.”
The poster promoting the Cape Breton Embassy stage claims that the Island is the “music capital” of the East Coast. After reviewing the list of ECMA performances and nominees, it would be difficult to argue that claim. Since 1989, Cape Breton musicians and industry professionals have won more than 190 awards and among the top ten ECMA winners, six are Cape Breton artists whose combined wins total 65.
Nominated for awards this year are Breagh Mackinnon for her album Where the Days Went in the Rising Star category; Matt MacDougall for Jazz Recording of the Year; Mischif‘s album Supernova is nominated for Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year; Madison Violet‘s fourth album, The Good in Goodbye is in the running for Group Recording of the Year; and Scott Macmillan was recognized in the Classical Composition of the Year category. The Barra MacNeils are up for Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year against fellow Cape Bretoners Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac who are nominated for their first album Seinn, and Bruce Guthro is nominated in two categories: Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.
The Industry Awards are also well-stocked with Cape Breton visionaries: Jamie Foulds and his recording studio Soundpark Studios are nominated for Studio Engineer of the Year and also Studio of the Year, alongside Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd and Lakewind Sound Studios. Sydney resident Darcy Campbell is nominated for Graphic/Media Artist of the Year, and Marcato Digital Solutions’ great strides in 2012 have been acknowledged with a nomination in the Music Merchant of the Year category. Three Cape Breton radio stations will be competing for Media Outlet of the Year: Meet The Music With Jason MacDonald on The Coast 87.9, The Hawk 101.5, and the syndicated East Coast Countdown, hosted by Glace Bay native Jimmie Inch. Inch is also nominated for Media Person of the Year, a category which includes Sydney Mines native Blaine Morrison who hosts the radio program The Blues Own, broadcast on K-Rock 89.3 in the Valley. Cape Breton native Ian McKinnon’s company Groundswell Records is nominated for Management / Manager of the Year and the Red Shoe Pub is nominated for Venue of the Year.
Raylene Rankin’s album All the Diamonds has been nominated for Solo Recording of the Year, and her remarkable career is being recognized with the Directors’ Special Achievement Award. Rear Boisdale native Joe Peter MacLean’s life in music will also be celebrated with the Stompin’ Tom Award in honour of his contribution and dedication to Cape Breton’s traditional music.
Sunday night’s Awards Gala will feature Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, the Barra MacNeils, Mary Jane Lamond and Jimmy Rankin and it’s easier to find shows in the schedule that don’t have Cape Breton content than to list the ones that do. Other Cape Breton artists scheduled to play during East Coast Music Week include Dwayne Côté, Norma MacDonald, Carmel Mikol, The Tom Fun Orchestra, Dylan Guthro, Forever, Crowdis Bridge, Scientists of Sound, Carmen Townsend, John Gracie, Rita MacNeil, Ian McKinnon, Steven MacDougall, John Campbelljohn, and Jay Smith.
If you can’t make it to Halifax for this exciting weekend, don’t fret! You can tune in to listen on Radio ECMA, which will be broadcasting from the Delta in Halifax 24-hours a day all weekend long. Eastlink will also be providing coverage live in HD, OnDemand and on Eastlink’s new TV anywhere platform Eastlink To Go. Eastlink’s coverage will include the Gala Awards Show, the Red Carpet event, and daily shows, produced live from Eastlink’s Spring Garden Road retail store, showcasing interviews with musicians, highlights from the week-long events and local concerts, and a sneak peek behind the scenes.