It was a modest showing for Cape Breton artists at last week’s East Coast Music Awards nomination press conference at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre. A respectable thirteen nominations in Rock, Pop, Trad, Hip Hop, and Video, Cape Breton’s ECMA 2010 slate is wonderfully diverse if nothing else—a welcome spin on the fiddle-centric expectations.
Two brazen upstarts in the rock world are elbowing their way to the front of the crowded Maritime radio rock crowd. Powered by an obnoxiously energetic live show and a textbook pop-rock record, Carleton Stone Drives the Big Wheel scored a nod for the coveted Rock Recording of the Year with their self-titled debut. Meanwhile, the Easy Bleeders, trailblazers of the new Dominion hillbilly rock revival, picked up a nomination for Alternative Recording of the Year following an impressively stubborn reign at the top of the East Coast Countdown.
Perhaps a sign of shifting tides in the Cape Breton music canon is a double nod in the Rap / Hip-Hop Single Track Recording of the Year for both Mista Mack and Mischeif. It’s been an undercurrent in Sydney for years, but now with these two nominations—firsts for both Mista Mack and Mischeif—Cape Breton hip hop is hitting the mainstream.
That said, Trad fans have nothing to worry about with four impressive nominations of their own. Musical pillar J.P. Cormier took a nomination for Folk Recording of the Year, avant-garde spectacle Gillian Boucher earned a nod for Roots/Trad solo recording, tunesmith Andrea Beaton dropped into the Instrumental category while the freakishly talented Borg-like duo Dawn and Margie Beaton grabbed a nod for Folk/Roots group recording.
Another big grab for the island comes on behalf of the biggest bru-ha-ha on the east coast, the Tom Fun Orchestra. With a nod for best video for “Throw Me To The Rats”–the follow up single on their debut full length, You Will Land With a Thud. Conceived and directed by Scottish cohorts Jock Mooney and Alasdair Brotherston, the cartoon cutout puppet show is as rollicking as the song itself, and takes its place among two other wildly acclaimed music videos (“Watchmaker”, “Bottom of the River”).
If you don’t recognize some of names the names above, it’s not that you’re getting old (though, what do I know, maybe you are) nor is it that the traditional world we’ve become so famous (notorious?) for is fleeting. Rather, this year—our homecoming year at the ECMAs—we’re looking at a page getting turned. Young and full of piss and vinegar, a new crop of artists rises to the occasion. The aforementioned artists are not to be missed.