We paid $36 each for tickets on the floor to the “award show gala”. According to the Metro Centre they were worth $45 but as an ECMA delegate, and after many complications, I got a discount. The seats sucked. We could see nothing but the heads in front of us, unless we actually stood up.
The show started at 7pm, we got there about 7:30 pm. The first two hours were the untelevised portion of the show. Our seats were so bad that we complained to the box office and they set us up with better ones – much better ones. Before long we were joined by others from terrible seats throughout the building.
Inside the arena, the show was great. Lennie Gallant with Mike Cowie’s horn blowin’, Johnny Favourite and his dancers and Sloan were great. Bruce Guthro’s performance of “Falling” with Symphony Nova Scotia got a standing ovation. The energy level in the arena was high but did it translate to a good television?
From our new seats we could see host Rick Mercer’s teleprompter. Being able to read the punchline and knowing when, where, and to what extent he was adlibbing was distracting. The pre-recorded bits with Rita MacNeil and Natalie MacMaster were extremely well-received by the crowd.
Between performances, they handed out the awards. The most interesting things about the awards won by Cape Bretoners this year isn’t how many were won. We didn’t clean up like other years, though Capers were nominated in a lot of categories. Cape Bretoners won in categories you might not expect if you believe all that stuff about Celtic/Ceilidh/Scottish/Fiddle music. Michelle Boudreau Samson from Petite de Gras won for Francophone Recording, Carol Kennedy won her award for Graphic Design of album artwork and photography. It shows there’s more to the music than it’s popularly given credit for.
Even J.P.Cormier’s award for Roots/Traditional-Vocal Artist of the Year reflects more his country music roots than anything else. It’s his playing that is most traditionally “Cape Breton” and his Cape Breton roots are in the Acadian community of Cheticamp on Cape Breton’s northwestern coast. J.P.’s songs speak of much more than a Celtic/Scottish ancestry and his music is the product of many influences including a number years as a session player in the land of American country music . . . maybe in some of the instrumental selections J.P. plays the stereotypical Celtic Cape Breton music emerges, but J.P. is anything but a stereotypical player.
And after the balloons were released it off to the “Post Gala Party”. What a bust. They announced last call just as we arrived. The band took that opportunity to play The Beatles “Revolution” but it couldn’t move us to action. The night was ending as was the weekend. And then Slainte Mhath got it going out in the lobby and we lasted until our cups were empty.